Like You Did Before

13: Of Course You Would

Gently rubbing circles into Lola’s back, Matilda glanced at the clock on the nightstand, a soft sigh falling out of her mouth. She hadn’t been surprised. The time that Iker usually arrived to see Lola in the morning had been and gone, and Matilda wasn’t surprised that there’d been no knock at the door, but it didn’t mean that she wasn’t disappointed. She had expected it. What had had happened the night before wasn’t something that was going to be gotten over in a matter of hours, but still a tiny part of her had hoped that he’d show up regardless. She could have handled awkward silences, she could have dealt with him trying to keep his distance in the small apartment, but she would have been comforted by something as simple as him being there.

There had been a lot for her to digest. The conversation with Iker had been complicated. They’d moved from talking about her kiss with Arthur to talking about their own relationship and Matilda wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. She had been expecting him to be upset. When she had seen in the doorway, she had expected to find herself yelling at him and having him yell at her, but the tone had changed quickly. Whilst he had been upset, and Matilda had seen it, he’d been more resigned to the inevitability of losing her to Arthur, something which had made her heart ache.

Hearing Lola let out a little yawn, Matilda gently repositioned her, watching her for a few moments before a tentative knocking filled the apartment. Trying to ignore the hopefulness that rose in her chest, she lifted Lola up and slowly wandered across the apartment, pulling the door open.

Arthur, who was stood in the hall, glanced up at the sound of the door opening.

Matilda held his stare for a few long seconds before she walked away from the door, leaving it open behind her. “I need to put her down for her nap” she mumbled “I’ll be back in a few minutes” she added.

Arthur didn’t say anything. He watched her walk away before he stepped over the threshold, closing the door behind him with a gentle thump. Shrugging out of his jacket, he hung it up on the hook beside the door before he slowly walked through to the living room. He sat down on the couch, his stare fixed on his feet until he heard the bedroom door close softly. Looking up, he took in a deep breath before he sighed. “Mattie…”

“Why are you here?” Matilda cut him off.

Arthur swallowed, his stare dropping back towards the floor. “I thought we needed to talk” he murmured “Last night was…I shouldn’t have…I’m sorry” he spluttered out, not quite able to finish one thought before he started another.

“Sorry?” Matilda’s voice was quiet “You’re sorry? Do you know what damage you’ve done, Art?” she added.

Arthur shook his head. “You’ve been broken up for almost a year” he countered “And in all the conversations we’ve had since you broke up, since you found out that you were pregnant with Lola, you’ve never said that you actually wanted to be back with him, so don’t act like I’ve ruined everything. That’s not fair, Mattie” he added.

Matilda glared at him, but Arthur shrugged it off, pushing himself up to his feet. “I don’t want to fight with you” he said “I just…I wanted to try and explain last night. Can I do that without you trying to bite my head off?” he asked.

Matilda’s expression softened. “OK” she murmured.

Arthur nodded, taking a moment to think, before he quirked a sad smile. “I’m crazy about you” he admitted quietly “I…uh…I have been since we were teenagers and we went to that Christmas party that Naomi’s parents were hosting. You had your first kiss then, and you always thought it was with Marcos, but it wasn’t. I just…I didn’t want to make things weird, so I let him take it. I didn’t exactly think that through, and then the two of you got together and I knew it was too late to say anything. I watched you date my cousin, and then you and Simon got together and then Iker…I didn’t know what to do” he explained.


“And then there was last night” Arthur cut Matilda off. He knew that if he didn’t get through it all in one go, then he wouldn’t get through it at all. “I’ve watched for the last year as you tried to get over Iker, and I wanted to…to show you that he’s not the only option. I thought if I showed you that then you might not waste more time on him. I thought you’d finally see me” he admitted, his face lighting with a small, hopeful smile.

Matilda blinked, trying, and failing, to get rid of the tears that had filled her blue eyes. “Arthur” she whispered softly “You’re…You’re my friend” she added.

Arthur flinched. “Mattie…”

“I love you as my friend” Matilda cut him off “I love that I can talk to you about anything and everything. I love that there’s never been anything complicated between us, but I…I don’t feel that way about you. I am so sorry, Art” she whispered, sniffling a little.

Arthur blinked, his expression going blank.

“I’ve never meant to hurt you” Matilda chose to keep speaking, not sure that she could bear the silence which would settle between them if she stopped “I know that that is a cop out, but I really haven’t. I know it’s going to make me sound so…so oblivious and naïve, but I didn’t see it and if I had…I’d have told you this so long ago. You’re amazing, Art, and you know that you’re one of my favourite people, but it isn’t like that, not for me” she added.

Arthur’s movements were slow and shaky as he backed towards the front door.


“Stop” Arthur’s voice was almost a shout, but he controlled it, not wanting to wake Lola up “Just stop talking, Mattie. Saying more isn’t going to make this better” he added.

Matilda stopped in her tracks and nodded.

Arthur was quiet for a moment, trying to compose himself, before he looked back over at her. “I…I fucked things up, didn’t I?” he asked.

Matilda shook her head. “Art…”

“I’ve made things weird between us” Arthur spoke over her “We’re never going to…to go back to what we were. Iker…shit, I fucked that up for you too? He’s always been weird about me and he saw us…Mattie, I’m sorry” he spluttered.


“I need to go” Arthur cut her off again “I can’t stay here. I shouldn’t have…I should’ve thought it through. Of course you’d still love him, of course you’d want him over me. You’ve had years to choose me and you never did” he babbled before he pulled the front door open, pulling it closed with a thump before Matilda even had half a chance to stop him.

Matilda stared at the closed door before she let her head fall against it, the tears she’d been trying to stifle finally falling down her face. She was hurting, but she knew that it was worse for Arthur and Iker and that made the tears come more and more. She thought, for the first time, that she had probably lost her relationships with the two people she cared about most and she had no idea how to go about trying to fix them. Arthur wouldn’t want to just be her friend again, it clearly wasn’t enough for him anymore, and Iker wouldn’t want to try to put things back together again, not when, as far as he was concerned, the thing he’d always dreaded had finally happened.
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Thanks to Jayme112234 for the comment :)