Like You Did Before

15: You Wouldn’t Be Unhappy Together

Bringing Lola’s pushchair to stop, Iker stared up at Matilda’s closed door, trying to find the nerve to reach out and knock on it. He hadn’t called Matilda. After he’d taken some time to think over what Naomi had said to him, he’d chosen to call her and insist that he’d be the one who took Lola home in the morning, but it meant that Matilda had no idea that he was coming, something which made him unsure of what awaited him. It was unavoidable. He and Matilda needed to talk, for Lola’s sake if nothing else, but whilst Iker knew that, he couldn’t stop himself from dreading it, worried that what awaited him on the other side of Matilda’s front door would spell the end of any chance of the two of them figuring things out.

It was what he wanted. He knew that had been too cagey about it for months, that he’d avoided the topic whenever he and Matilda had tried to talk, and he knew that that probably hadn’t helped things between them, but neither of them had been straightforward with the other, something he knew that they needed to stop if they were ever going to have any kind of relationship moving forwards.

Glancing into the pushchair, he watched Lola for a couple of seconds before he nodded to himself, leaning over to tap his hand against the door. Straightening up, he gripped onto the handle of pram, watching the door until it swung open, revealing Matilda who blinked up at him sleepily. Iker smiled at the sight of her, but he was quick to hide it, glancing down at his feet. “I…I thought you’d be up” he stumbled out “I was going to ask if you wanted to come for a walk with the two of us” he added.

Matilda’s stare had bounced between Iker and Lola a couple of times as he spoke, something which caused Iker to shake his head slightly. “You don’t have to” he continued “I just…I just thought we could talk. We need to and I don’t really want to do it here” he admitted gently. Just standing in the hall where he’d seen her and Arthur was harder for him than he wanted to admit.

Matilda reached up, nervously pushing her hair back off of her face. “I need a few minutes to get dressed” she said quietly “Do you want to…?” she trailed off, tipping her head towards her open front door.

Iker wanted to shake his head, but before he had the chance to, Lola let out a cry. Quirking a reluctant smile, he picked her up and wrinkled his nose, something which made Matilda smile at him softly. “You know where the nappies are” she mused before she wandered back into the apartment.

Iker hesitated for a beat, his eyes lingering on the door, before he trailed after her.

“Is she going to be warm enough?”

Matilda, who was slowly pushing Lola’s pushchair, smiled a little at the concern in Iker’s voice before she nodded, reaching out to adjust the hat which sat on their daughter’s head. It was the first thing he’d said in a while. After Matilda had gotten dressed and Iker had changed Lola’s nappy, they walked out of her apartment to the park which sat a little way away, but since they’d gotten there, neither of them had spoken much. Matilda didn’t want to say the wrong thing. From the moment that she had pulled the door open to find Iker standing there instead of Naomi, she had been deliberate and careful about what she had said, but she knew that eventually one of them had to say something. Things weren’t just going to get better on their own.

“She’s fine” Matilda said softly.

“You’re sure?” Iker asked “We can go somewhere warmer. There’s got to be a café or something around here” he added, trying to rush ahead.

Matilda stopped him, gently taking his hand in hers. “Iker, she’s fine” she repeated “It’s not that cold out, and she’s got a coat and a hat and I’ve got a blanket in case she needs it. She’s Ok” she insisted, offering him a comforting smile.

Iker grinned sheepishly. “Sorry” he said “I just…”

“You’re her papa” Matilda interrupted “You’re allowed to worry” she added.

Iker offered her another awkward little smile, allowing the silence to creep back over them as they slowly walked. Gently, Iker untangled their fingers, slipping his hands into his pocket before he blew out a gentle sigh. “Naomi said that you and Arthur talked” he said.

Matilda’s steps stuttered slightly. She hadn’t expected him to be so blunt. “We…We did” she confirmed “He came over the morning after and we…we got a lot of stuff out in the open. He told me how he felt, I told him how I felt and I haven’t spoken to him since” she added.

Iker didn’t look at her, keeping his eyes on the pavement as they walked. “Why?” he asked.

Matilda shook her head, a little sad laugh falling out of her mouth. “Why do you think?” she asked “He told me that…that you’d been right about him, that he had all of these feelings for me, and I told that I didn’t have them for him. I told him that I loved him as my best friend, but that I didn’t see him as more and now, he wants nothing to do with me. Would you?” she prodded.

Iker was quiet for a moment, letting the question linger between them, before he shook his head. “Why wouldn’t you try with him?” he asked “I mean, I’ve seen the two of you together. You wouldn’t be unhappy together” he added.

Matilda stopped walking, causing Iker to slow and stop before he turned and looked at her. “What?” he asked.

Matilda shook her head, her eyes wide in disbelief. “You want to know why I am not going to get with Arthur?” she asked “I mean, aside from the fact that I don’t love him like that, and that I’d only hurt him and myself by trying to make myself feel like that about him? You. You’re the reason why, and if you still don’t get that, then we’re never going to get anywhere. I am not interested in anyone else, I haven’t been in years, because I am in love with you. You, Iker, not my best friend, not some other guy, you, and sometimes I get the idea that you might feel the same away about me, but then there are moments like this where it feels like…like…”

“Like what?” Iker’s question was quiet.

“Like you want to push me away” Matilda answered “That you’d be happier if I was with someone else. That you don’t want me like I want you” she added.

Iker stood still for a moment before he slowly shook his head. His next movements were quicker. He closed the little distance that he’d kept between them before he pushed a hand into her hair, reaching the back of her head so that he could pull her forwards, guiding her into a kiss.