Like You Did Before

46: I Didn’t Want This

Pushing the front door closed behind himself, Iker leant down to pick up the bag he’d put on the floor before he ambled towards the kitchen in search of Matilda. He had been itching to get back there. When he’d left the previous night, it had been reluctant, but with his meeting out of the way, he had wasted as little time as he could getting back to Matilda and Lola, stopping only to pick up a bag of clean clothes from his home before he’d made his way to theirs. He liked being there. Matilda’s new home wasn’t tainted by bad memories like her apartment had been. It was devoid of memories of fights and things that Iker didn’t want to remember, and it meant that he wanted to spend as much time there as he could. Whilst they both agreed that they needed more time, he could easily picture her new house becoming the first home they shared officially.

Adjusting the strap of his bag on his shoulder, he stopped in doorway, tapping his hand against it gently.

Matilda, who’d been staring down at her phone, lifted her head. “Iker” she breathed.

Whatever trace of a smile Iker had had faltered immediately as he spotted how red Matilda’s eyes were. Dropping the bag with a thump, he moved towards her quickly, his hands gently guiding her face up to look at him. Matilda tried to pull away, to duck her head and hide the tears which still itched to fill her eyes, but Iker’s gentle touch kept her in place. “I didn’t think you’d be here so soon” she said quietly.


“Lola’s with my mother” Matilda spoke over Iker, like she hadn’t heard him “I would have had her bring her back earlier if I knew you were going to come over so soon. I just needed some quiet after last night” she added, touching her forehead to indicate a headache as she tried, and failed, to force a wobbly smile.

Iker’s thumb traced along her cheekbone, his forehead creasing in concern. “You didn’t drink that much” he said gently “You had a couple of glasses, but you were being careful because of Lola” he added.

Matilda’s sigh was soft, resigned.

“Matilda, what’s going on?” Iker asked “You’ve been crying” he added.

Matilda sniffed, trying to hold the tears back, before she closed her eyes, ducking her head away from him “Art and I talked last night” she whispered shakily “I...I had noticed that he’d been weird and I knew that we needed to talk. He was so quiet and distant and...”

“Mattie” Iker cut in gently, stopping her babbling “What happened?” he asked.

Matilda took in a deep breath, letting it out slowly before she looked up at him. “He made me choose” she said “He told me that I couldn’t have both of you, not with how he...he feels about me” she added.

Iker opened his mouth, but Matilda cut him off before he could say anything. “It was always you” she insisted “I didn’t want to choose. I know it’s selfish, but I wanted you, my boyfriend, and him, my best friend, but when he pushed, it was always you. Even when he kissed me...” she trailed off as Iker took a step away from her, his hand rubbing his jaw frustratedly.

Closing her mouth, she watched him without making a sound, knowing that if she kept talking before he was ready, they’d end up in a fight. She knew that he’d be upset. Even though things had gone in his favour, and Matilda had sacrificed her friendship with Arthur in favour of her relationship with Iker, she knew that the scenario was one he’d been dreading since they’d gotten together, and she wanted to allow him as much time as he needed to get his head around it. She had no intention of playing down what had happened or dismissing it like she had done too many times in the past.

Iker took a few moments to compose himself before he looked back over at her. “He kissed you?” he prodded.

Matilda’s nod was firm despite the little sniff that escaped her. “He did” she confirmed “I didn’t reciprocate it” she added.

Iker nodded his head slowly, his eyes on his feet. “I have a hard time accepting that” he said “I mean, this isn’t just some guy, Mattie. It’s Art” he added.

Matilda shook her head, tearfully glaring up at him. “You don’t think I know that?” she muttered “You don’t think I know why you dislike him? I can’t help how he feels about me, OK? I didn’t make him fall in love with me, I didn’t decide to not reciprocate his feelings. I know that it’s uncomfortable for you, but I didn’t make this mess. I never did anything to lead him on. I was his friend, Iker, his best friend, and I can’t change that he wanted it to be more than that. I didn’t kiss him. I can’t prove that to you, but I didn’t, and it’s up to you whether you want to take my word for it or not” she added.

“Do you wish you did feel the same way about him?” Iker asked coldly.

Matilda shook her head without hesitation. “I’m selfish” she murmured “I wanted him to be the friend he’d always been to me whilst I was trying to make this work with you. I’ve had him in my life for so long that it is hard to contemplate not having him around, but I have never wanted to change what we are to one another. You know that” she added.

“Do I?” Iker shot back “Because when I left here last night, you guys were fine, and now you’re standing here, telling me that he made a move, again, and you shot him down. How did you get from the party I was present for to him trying to convince you to leave me for him?” he pressed.

“I didn’t want to keep hurting him” Matilda replied “No one else sees it, but when I am with you and Art’s around, he gets this look on his face and I didn’t want to keep doing that to him. You know that I care about him” she added.

“Then why not run off with him?” Iker shot back.

“Because I love you!” Matilda shouted.

Iker blinked, any trace of anger disappearing at those four words.

“I didn’t want this” Matilda continued, her voice growing softer “I didn’t want my best friend to want more of me than I could give him. I didn’t want my being happy with the man I love to hurt him. I didn’t choose this, Iker, and you need to stop acting like I did. Arthur’s feelings are his, I didn’t make them the way they are and I can’t make them disappear just because it makes you uncomfortable” she added.

Iker rubbed his jaw again, trying, and failing, to come up with something to say.

Matilda watched his movements for a moment before she slid out of her seat, trudging towards the doorway.

“I’m sorry” Iker’s voice was soft.

Matilda stopped walking before she turned around.

“I...I know how much he means to you” Iker stumbled out.

Matilda smiled sadly. “Doesn’t that show you how much you mean to me?” she asked.

Iker’s smile was rueful, something which made Matilda shake her head, wiping at her eyes again. “I asked too much” she said “I...I pushed the two of you together, trying to keep something together that never could have worked. He was going to hate whoever I was with, and whoever I was with was going to hate him too. I was selfish, and I am sorry for that” she said.

Iker shook his head as he walked over to her and wrapped his arms around her, allowing her to turn and cry softly into his chest. Keeping her close, he smoothed her hair with one hand before he took a pace back, lifting her head so that she looked at him. Brushing the tears off of her cheeks, he offered her a soft smile before he leant forwards, kissing her gently. Matilda sighed into the kiss, her hand gently gripping his t-shirt, before he pulled back, touching his forehead to hers. Iker didn’t know what to say to her. He couldn’t apologise for the choice that she had had to make, it’d been inevitable. He couldn’t say that he was sorry for assuming that she would choose Arthur, he’d always thought that she would. But he could let her know that he was still there and that he wasn’t going anywhere.
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Thanks to Twisted;;Symphony and Jayme112234 for the comments :)