Like You Did Before

32: You Never Seem Scared

Dropping her damp towel into the hamper, Matilda plopped down onto the end of her bed, her eyes glancing out of the crack in the door which allowed her to look out into the living room to see if she could catch sight of Iker. She knew that he hadn’t gone anywhere. Aside from the fact that she knew he wouldn’t leave Lola, she’d heard his footsteps trailing back and forth across the apartment whilst she’d been in the shower, but whilst she knew that he wouldn’t go anywhere until she’d ventured out of her room, she couldn’t quite find the nerve to head back out. It’d escalated quickly again. A moment of hesitation from her had been greeted by a slightly bitter smile from Iker, and what had started out as a conversation had gotten out of hand again, leaving her feeling as though she ought not have told him what her parents had said.

Closing her eyes, she exhaled a slightly shaky sigh before she felt something touch her knee, causing her to blink her eyes open again. Lifting her head slightly, she met Iker’s eyes, coaxing a soft smile from him before he leant up, touching a gentle kiss against her forehead. “I’m sorry” he whispered “It got away from us again, didn’t it?” he asked.

Matilda nodded her head wordlessly, her fingers fiddling with the damp ends of her hair.

Iker watched her for a moment, thinking about what it was that he wanted to say, before he gently wrapped his hand around hers, stopping her fidgeting. “I wish I knew what to say to you at times like this” he said softly “I wish I could offer you something tangible, something that could prove that what I feel for you isn’t dependent on our situation, that it’s unconditional and real, but there isn’t. I want you to feel like you can believe in this, Mattie, but I have no idea how to convince you of that and that frustrates me” he explained.

Matilda’s eyes didn’t stray from the hand of hers that he held. “I know it does” she replied.

Iker stared at her, waiting for her to say something else, but she didn’t. Instead, a silence lingered between them until he tipped his head slightly, touching a light kiss against the back of her hand. “I hate that our history, sometimes” he admitted quietly.

Matilda’s head snapped up, but before she had a chance to say anything, Iker offered her a comforting smile, wordlessly asking her to hear him out before she reacted. Deflating slightly, she nodded, agreeing to let him talk. “The good parts were amazing” he mused “And Lola...I love her more than I can put into words, but I hate that everyone else saw the worst parts and that’s all they still see. They don’t trust it because the parts of us they saw before, they weren’t good and them being wary is going to make you wary too. I hate that what has happened between us before isn’t just wiped away” he explained carefully.

“I shouldn’t be swayed by what other people think” Matilda replied “This is our relationship” she added.

“It is” Iker agreed “But your parents, your friends, mine too, they’re trying to look out for us and it’s only natural to listen to their opinions. We just have to try and not let those opinions get the better of us. They don’t know what it’s like when it’s just you and me” he added.

Matilda’s eyes met his tentatively. “You make it sound easy” she murmured.

Iker smiled at her. “I know it’s not” he mused “That’s why we’re hiding in your bedroom” he added, gesturing to the room around them.

Matilda’s lips quirked into a reluctant smile, something which made Iker’s smile widen a fraction. He couldn’t quite express how relieved he’d been when her expression had brightened. “I snapped, I shouldn’t have done” he said “I do want you to talk to me about these sorts of things, Mattie” he added.

Matilda nodded her head slowly. “Do you really think this is just teething problems?” she asked after a moment of quiet “These disagreements, the same disagreement we keep having, do you think that it’s going to go away on its own?” she added.

“I think we made a pretty big mess before” Iker replied after a moment “And I think we spent almost a year dancing around it, not really confronting what happened or what we wanted to happen next. I think it’s going to take time. We need to untangle what happened before from what’s happening now, and that’s easier said than done, but I think it is doable. I wouldn’t be here, saying this, if I didn’t think that it was” he added.

“Do you worry like I do?” Matilda prodded.

“No one worries like you do, Mattie” Iker retorted with a slightly playful grin.

Matilda offered him a pointed look, causing Iker to breathe out a little laugh before he nodded. “I worry” he confirmed “I feel like, sometimes, I am making the same mistakes, picking the same fights for the same, non-existent reasons. Do you want me to be honest with you about something?” he asked.

“Of course” Matilda replied, her voice slightly hesitant and unsure.

“I think that a lot of this, the picking fights and trying to find reasons not to be happy together, is because we’re scared” Iker said “I think we both know that, if we let it, this could be really serious. I’m talking buying a house together, married with children kind of serious and I think that we both get overwhelmed by that. I know I do. I see my future with you, Mattie, and whilst that’s wonderful and amazing, it’s pretty terrifying too” he added.

He’d seen it early on. After only a handful of months together, he’d been able to easily envisage his and Matilda’s future together, and whilst it was ultimately what he wanted, the idea of it was still overwhelming. He wanted to make her happy, he wanted to get to where he’d imagined them getting, but the idea of it was still scary and he thought that it was that fear of being so important to someone else that caused a lot of their problems. They both got overwhelmed, they both got scared, and they both looked for reasons to pull away, starting the same fight over and over until Matilda had ultimately pulled away from him completely.

For a moment, Matilda didn’t quite know what to say. It wasn’t the first time Iker had suggested that he wanted to make more of their relationship. He had talked about them getting married frequently towards the end of their original relationship, but the way he’d said it, and the admission that he was scared of that, had knocked her for six. He hadn’t seemed scared when he’d asked her if she wanted to marry him. “You’re scared too?” she asked quietly.

Iker’s smile was soft as he nodded. “Terrified” he confirmed.

“You never seem terrified” Matilda replied “I do, a lot, but you...” she trailed off.

“Maybe I should admit it more” Iker mused “If it would help to make you feel more comfortable” he added.

“It might” Matilda replied, a tremulous smile on her face.

Iker smiled back at her softly before he leant up, touching another soft kiss to her forehead. “I love you” he whispered tenderly “That doesn’t scare me. Trying too hard, not trying enough, just letting this fade, that does, but not loving you” he mumbled between kisses to her nose and lips.

Matilda held onto him, mumbling similar words back to him between gentle kisses.
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Thanks to Jayme112234 for the comment :)