Like You Did Before

28: I Am More Aware

“Are you sure that you don’t want me to head over to your place and pick you up a change of clothes?”

Matilda, who’d been washing her dirty mug in the sink, smiled a little as Iker’s voice filled the room, causing her to spare a look back at him over her shoulder. The tension had ebbed away slightly. After their confrontation in Iker’s bedroom, it felt as though they’d both gotten a few more of their concerns off of their chests, and whilst it hadn’t cleared the air entirely, it had allowed them both to relax a little, more certain of where they stood than they had been before. It was something that was only going to improve with time. Things between them were tentative, and it was going to take them a while to see if things actually were different than they had been the first time around.

“Don’t you think that that would be a waste of time?” Matilda prodded “Driving there, to drive back here, only to drive me and Lola back there again?” she asked, offering him a playful smirk.

Iker, who’d been settling Lola into her seat, shrugged before he looked up at her with a small smile. “I don’t mind” he mused “I just thought you’d be a little more comfortable in something that wasn’t the dress you showed up here in” he added, stooping to drop a kiss on the top of Lola’s head before he progressed towards the fridge, retrieving a bottle of milk that Matilda had left inside.

“Thank you” Matilda said “But I think I will manage. Besides, it’s a really wonderful dress” she added impishly.

“I noticed” Iker mused.

“You did?” Matilda prodded “I thought you were distracted by me trying to fall out of my own shoes” she added, letting a slightly timid laugh.

Iker shrugged as he settled into the seat beside Lola, testing the warmth of her bottle on his arm. “I can multi-task” he mused “And you’d mentioned the dress before. I knew you were excited about it, so I made sure to take notice. You looked wonderful, Mattie” he added warmly.

Matilda’s already slightly pink cheeks flushed a shade darker before she shook her head, smiling goofily down at her feet. “Thank you” she mumbled “I mean, I knew that, but I…I like hearing you say it. It beats hearing it from Art or Naomi” she added.

Iker’s warm grin faltered slightly as he started to feed Lola, something Matilda noticed with a soft sigh. She knew what she had said wrong almost as soon as she’d said it. “Iker” she protested softly “It was nothing. He said it about all of the bridesmaids. He spent most of the night trying to get one of Naomi’s work friends’ phone number” she added.

Iker shrugged, trying, and failing, to fix his smile. “Did he get it?” he prodded.

Matilda plopped into the seat opposite him, offering him a soft smile. “Do you really care?” she countered.

Iker breathed out a bashful laugh, shrugging. “A little” he quipped “I mean, at least if he’s seeing her…”

“He’s not the type to cause problems, Iker” Matilda interrupted softly “You know that. I know I misread him before, and I didn’t see something that…that you always did, but he never tried to come between us like that and I don’t believe he would now” she added.

Iker kept his stare on Lola as he let out a soft sigh. “I know that” he mused “I’m just going to have to get used to him again and that’s going to take a little while” he added.

Matilda stared at him for a second before she leant across the table, her hand gently rubbing at his arm. “It’s not going to be like it was before” she said gently “My friendship with Art…it’s different now and I am more aware of you and the things I did before that hurt you. I hope it will be better than it was before” she admitted.

She knew that she couldn’t make him not worry. He had always been wary of Arthur, and was bound to be more so now that they all knew how Arthur felt about her, but she wanted him to know that she knew where they’d gone wrong before and that she hoped she could avoid making the same mistakes the second time around.

Iker watched her hand for a second before his eyes trailed up towards her face, a faint smile kicking up the corner of his mouth. “I hope so, too” he mused.

Matilda smiled back at him warmly before she gently pushed her chair back. Leaning across the table, she pecked his lips a couple of times before she gently smoothed out Lola’s sweater. “Do you mind if I go and take a shower before we go?” she asked.

“Of course I don’t” Iker replied “You’ll have to use my shampoo and body wash, though. I stopped stocking that fruity stuff of yours” he added, his voice caught somewhere between teasing and soft. He remembered how quickly he’d gotten rid of any trace of her in his home when they’d broken up.

Matilda scoffed playfully, determined to keep the conversation light. “I distinctly remember you loving that stuff” she mused “You used it more than I did” she added.

Iker shook his head, smiling gently down at Lola. “I might have finished the bottle you left behind” he admitted softly.

Matilda heard the ruefulness in his voice before she leant over again, touching her lips to his carefully. “I’ll buy you some more” she whispered softly.

Iker couldn’t stop the soft laugh that bubbled out of him, something which made Matilda smile gently before she padded out of the room, making her way towards his bathroom.

They had both acknowledged it before. Before they’d decided to try things out again, they’d both sat back and analysed where things had gone wrong the first time, but they hadn’t talked about the actual break up itself, and the pain it’d caused them both, something which had been made apparent by Iker’s reaction to something as simple as her soap.

They hadn’t spent long apart. It’d only been a handful of weeks before Matilda had reappeared at Iker’s home with the news that she was expecting their baby, but she didn’t know how he’d spent those few weeks. She knew that he’d tried to eradicate her traces from his home. There were no pictures of them, her stuff had arrived, neatly packed up, less than a week after they’d ended things, and Matilda had sent his things back to him only slightly slower, but they hadn’t talked about it. For months, it’d been about her pregnancy, and then it’d been about Lola, and now that they were moving to focus on them, neither one of them seemed entirely sure of where it was they stood.