Like You Did Before

02: Me And Her

“Where’ve you put her clothes?”

Matilda slowly lifted her head, glancing across her living room towards Iker who stood in her bedroom doorframe, his hand rubbing his jaw in frustration. They hadn’t been alone for long. After they’d gotten out of the hospital, Iker had left Matilda and the baby in her apartment with her parents for most of the day, but he hadn’t been able to stay away for long. He’d wanted to spend the whole day there. He’d wanted to waste hours just marvelling at the baby, but he knew that he couldn’t, even if he and Matilda had tried to push the awkwardness between them to one side. As much as he knew she understood his wanting to be around, he understood that, as her ex-boyfriend, lingering in her apartment for too long would be too uncomfortable for them both.

“What?” Matilda asked.

“Her clothes” Iker repeated “Where are they? I need a new onesie for her to go to sleep in” he added.

“Bottom drawer of the dresser” Matilda answered “But, if you’re just looking for a onesie, there’s a few out here in a gift bag. My mama bought them with her” she added, tipping her head towards a gift bag which was perched on the coffee table.

“Can you bring me one?” Iker prodded.

Matilda leant forwards, selecting a piece of clothing from the bag, before she crossed the room, gently depositing it into Iker’s hand. Flashing him a brief smile, she stepped around him and crossed to the floor where the baby laid on her changing mat. Without hesitation, she knelt down and touched a light kiss to the baby’s forehead, a more genuine smile brightening her features. “You nearly ready to go to sleep, sweetheart?” she whispered softly.

Iker hung back for a moment, watching the two of them, before he shuffled forwards, awkwardly holding the onesie out towards Matilda. When it entered her vision, Matilda blinked a couple of times, but she took it out of his hand and quickly dressed the baby in it before she lifted her up. “Do you want to settle her?” she asked.

Iker’s lips quirked upwards slightly, but he stifled the teasing answer he wanted to give, instead just offering Matilda a short nod of his head. Matilda smiled back at him before she gently settled the baby in his arms. “I’m going to make tea” she said softly “I’ll bring you a cup” she added.

Iker’s stare was fixed on the baby, but he nodded to let her know that he’d heard her.

Matilda couldn’t resist leaning forwards and fussing over the baby’s onesie before she shuffled out of the room, something which made Iker smile fondly before he shuffled around the bed. Taking a seat on the edge of it, he carefully lowered the baby down into her crib, something which made her fuss quietly before she yawned gently. Slowly and carefully withdrawing his hands, he smoothed her hair and kissed her forehead before he settled back down on the edge of the bed, simply watching her quietly until he felt the bed dip.

Matilda didn’t say anything, she just handed him a mug before they both turned back towards the crib. They didn’t speak for a long time. The silence was punctuated by them sipping at their drinks and occasional noise that the baby made, but eventually Iker shook his head, the same rueful smile pulling at the corner of his mouth. “Tell me you think this will get less weird” he said quietly.

Matilda shook her head, smiling sadly into her mug. “I won’t make a promise that I don’t know I can keep” she replied.

Iker nodded his head thoughtfully. “I want to be here as much as I can be” he announced after another period of quiet “And I know that that is going to be…”

“You can be here any time you want to be” Matilda interrupted “Weird or not. I can see how excited you are about her. I am not going to try and keep you apart” she added, finally turning to look up at him.

Iker’s eyes traced her features before he offered her a small smile, turning back to watch the baby sleep. “She’s even more wonderful than I thought she would be” he said tenderly “I thought…well, I thought we’d have a boy, but I was expecting someone amazing and she is…she’s lovelier than I pictured” he added.

Matilda watched him, admiring the way his face had lit up, before she turned back to the baby. “Have you thought about what you want to call her?” she asked.

Iker’s laugh was soft, embarrassed. “I thought we were having a boy” he repeated “I knew we should have found out at that scan” he added.

“I don’t regret not finding out” Matilda mused “Your face when the midwife told you she was a girl was…it was amazing” she added. He’d lit up without hesitation, his entire figure had brightened, and for one moment in a day that had been surrounded by awkwardness and unfamiliarity, she’d seen a glimpse of the man she’d fallen for.

Iker let out another laugh which slowly faded away, leaving a slightly suffocating silence in its wake. Matilda and Iker sat in it for a while, neither one sure of what to say to break it, but when Matilda let out a soft yawn, Iker quirked a sad smile. “You should be asleep too” he mused “Isn’t there some saying about how when the baby’s sleeping, the mama ought to be too?” he asked.

Matilda shrugged, trying, and failing, to hide another yawn behind her hand.

Iker leant over, placing his mug down onto the end table, before he pushed himself up to his feet. “I should leave you to sleep” he mused “I mean, she’ll probably be up again before you know it and you should get some rest in before that. I’ll see myself out” he added, shuffling awkwardly past Matilda and towards the bedroom doorway.

Matilda just watched him, feeling a dull ache form in the pit of her stomach.

“I’ll give some thought to names” Iker kept talking, hoping to avoid the awkward silence seeping back in again “We need one now that she’s actually here” he added, making his way quickly through the living room and towards the front door.

Matilda followed him, smiling weakly at the little joke he’d made.

Iker pulled the door open and shuffled out of it before he turned around, offering her a tired smile. “I’ll see you in the morning?” he asked.

“We’ll be here” Matilda replied “Me and her” she added.

Iker nodded stiffly, ignoring the urge he had to lean over and press a kiss against her cheek, and offered her an awkward wave before he made his way down the corridor. Matilda watched him until he reached the elevator before she ducked back inside, pushing the front door closed before she tipped her head against it with a soft thump.