Like You Did Before

12: I Wish I Could Believe That

For a moment, after the front door had closed, Matilda didn’t quite know what to do. She knew that she had to talk to Iker and his storming back into her apartment had instinctively drawn her to follow after him, but when the door had closed behind her, part of her had wanted to swing it back open again, knowing that she and Arthur needed to talk too. She hadn’t seen it. Despite the amount of times Iker had pointed it out to her, she hadn’t seen that Arthur had feelings for her, and she knew that that was something which was going to take a little time to get her head around.

Glancing over her shoulder, she stared at the closed door, wondering if Arthur was still stood outside, before a sound in the living room caught her ears. Taking a deep breath, she let it out slowly before she stepped towards the other room, stopping in the doorway.

Iker, who’d been hurrying to pull his shoes back onto his feet, caught the movement out of the corner of his eye. “I thought you’d still be outside” he muttered, his attention fixed on tying his laces.

“It wasn’t…”

“What it looked like?” Iker cut in as he whipped his head up, his eyes narrowing slightly “You’re better at making excuses than that, Mattie. Try to be a little original” he added.

Matilda shook her head. “Are you actually going to let me say anything?” she asked.

Iker’s expression twitched, but he nodded his head.

Matilda stared at him for a moment, trying to sort out her thoughts, before she pushed a hand back through her hair. “It wasn’t what you’re thinking” she spoke slowly, each word careful and deliberate “I told you that I would tell you if there was something to tell, and there isn’t. I know what you saw, and I am just as surprised by it as you are. I didn’t do that on purpose, Iker, I’d never do something like that to hurt you” she added, her voice soft and insistent.

She knew that assumption that he had made. When he had pulled the door open and seen her and Arthur, she knew that he would assume that she had lied to him when she had told him that, as far as a new relationship went, she didn’t have anything to tell, and she wanted to try and convince him otherwise. She’d been caught off guard. The idea of Arthur kissing her was something which hadn’t even crossed her mind, and so when it had happened, it’d taken her a beat too long to get over the surprise before she’d pulled away.

Iker shook his head, dropping his stare to his feet. “That was what I was dreading for two years” he muttered “Seeing you two…” he trailed off with a grimace.

Matilda took a tentative step forwards, only to feel her stomach twist when Iker took a matching step back. “Iker” she protested softly.

“Are you guys going to give it a shot?” Iker asked “You and Arthur?” he added.

Matilda shook her head. “It’s not like that” she insisted.

“You were kissing him, Mattie!” Iker shot back, his voice a little louder than he wanted it to be “I opened that door and you were there and he was…he was kissing you, Mattie. How’d you expect me to believe that it’s not like that?” he added, his voice softening.

Matilda opened and closed her mouth, trying and failing to find something to say to him.

Iker shook his head before he moved to pull his jacket around his shoulders.

“Why do you care?” Matilda’s voice was small and quiet, but it was still enough to stop Iker as he tried to walk towards the front door.

“What?” Iker asked.

Matilda took a pace towards him, her eyes fixed on his. “Why do you care?” she repeated “I asked you, point blank, if you still loved me and you didn’t say anything. So, if you don’t, why the heck does it bother you if I move on with anyone?” she prodded.

Iker’s eyes searched her face before he shook his head, stepping back to put more distance between the two of them. “You can do what you want” he muttered.

“Why can’t you just talk to me?” Matilda yelped in exasperation.

“What is it that you want me to say exactly?” Iker shot back “That I am still in love with you? That if you gave me even the slightest indication that you wanted to try and figure this out, I’d be there in a heartbeat?” he added.

Matilda’s eyes widened.

Iker fell quiet, allowing the words to hang in the air around the two of them for a few long moments, before he let out a soft sigh. “I wish…I wish this was less of a mess” his voice was softer when he spoke, more tired and sad “I wish we could go back and figure things out before they ended up like…like this” he added, gesturing between the two of them.

Matilda stepped towards him, her hand hovering over his for a beat before she tentatively touched it. “We can still figure it out” she said quietly.

Iker’s smile was rueful as he shook his head. “I don’t think your new boyfriend would appreciate that” he murmured.

“I was just surprised” Matilda protested softly “He kissed me and it surprised me and it took me a moment to get through the surprise and pull away. It wasn’t more than what you saw” she added.

Iker’s stare drifted towards his feet for a moment before he looked back up at her face, his eyes soft and sad. “How could I ever compete with him, Mattie?” he asked “Now that you know that…that he’s an option, now that there can’t be any doubt about what it is he feels for you, how could I ever compete with him? You’ve been friends since you were in nappies. He’s always there, and you…you trust him so completely. How could it ever be me?” he added.

Matilda’s hand untangled from his, moving up to cup his cheek softly. “It’s always going to be you” she whispered.

Iker turned, pressing a soft kiss to her palm, before he gently pried her hand away, lowering it back to her side. “I wish I could believe that” he whispered before he stepped past her, ducking out of the apartment.

Matilda didn’t move until the door closed. On shaky legs, she shuffled towards the couch before she fell back onto it, pulling her knees to her chest before she dropped her head forwards, crying quietly to herself.
♠ ♠ ♠
Thanks to Jayme112234 for the comment :)