Like You Did Before

05: Like Always

Leaning his head against the doorframe, Iker let out a soft sigh, trying in vain to stifle the butterflies in the pit of his stomach. He knew that he didn’t have anything to be worried about. Every night since she’d been born, Iker had been in Matilda’s apartment when Lola had gone to sleep, and he knew that he’d be fine when Matilda left him and Lola alone, but still he was nervous. They’d agreed to wait a while. He and Matilda had wanted Lola to settle a little before she started spending nights at Iker’s home, and whilst he’d had Lola’s bedtime routine memorized for weeks, he worried what the night would be like. When she was asleep, he left. Every night for six weeks, he’d settled her or watched Matilda do it before he’d left, and he didn’t know what to expect after that. Matilda had assured him that Lola was a good sleeper. She’d told him that she very rarely woke up more than twice a night, but her assurances hadn’t done much to soothe the nerves in his stomach.

Scanning the bedroom, he wordlessly checked things over again before he heard the doorbell ring. Letting out a soft sigh, he smoothed his shirt out before he moved to jog down the stairs, pulling the door open to Matilda before he swooped in, excitedly taking Lola out of her arms.

Matilda couldn’t have stopped herself from smiling even if she had wanted to. She adored how Iker lit up when Lola was around. “Hello to you, too, Iker” she quipped.

Iker lifted his head briefly, flashing Matilda a sheepish smile, before he turned back to Lola.

Matilda rolled her eyes gently before she stepped through the door. Pushing it closed, she stopped to shrug off her coat, before she picked Lola’s bags back up again, trailing after Iker who’d wandered through towards his living room. Sparing a look towards the sofa, she watched Iker fuss over Lola for a few moments, before she gently settled the bags down.

Iker heard the soft sound of the bags landing on the floor before he looked up, his eyes widening slightly as he stared at Matilda. “Wow” he spluttered.

Matilda, who’d been checking something in one of the bags, glanced over at him, her lips curved up into a slightly uncertain smile. “What was that?” she asked.

Iker floundered for a moment before he cleared his throat, tipping his head towards the bags. “That’s a lot of stuff” he noted. It wasn’t what he’d wanted to say. Matilda had already told him that she had plans that night with a few of her friends, and he’d expected her to dress up for it, but when he’d looked at her, he’d been rendered speechless. She was beautiful, she always had been, but something about her, in that moment, had overwhelmed him.

Matilda’s shaky smile faltered, though she tried to hide it, nodding as she looked back at Lola’s bags. “The little one is bottles of milk for her” she mused “And the bigger one is stuff she likes when she’s at home. I thought it might help her to settle if she’s a little fussy. I figured you’d have everything else covered. You’ve always been more organized than me” she added.

Iker smiled at her before he turned back to Lola, allowing Matilda to slip out of the room and place the bottles in the fridge before she made her way back.

Hearing her footsteps, Iker watched her into the room before he breathed out a shy laugh. “I meant to tell you that you looked nice” he mused “That’s why I said ‘wow’ before. You…you look really nice, Mattie” he added.

Matilda looked down at herself, trying, and failing, to hide the blush which had spread across her cheeks. “You think so?” she asked.

“Yes, I do” Iker confirmed “What’s your plan for your first night off?” he prodded.

“Dinner” Matilda replied “My friends wanted to do something more, but I’m not quite ready for that. We’re going to dinner, and then I am going to get a goodnight’s sleep, something I’ve not had since this little one made her appearance” she added, leaning over to touch a kiss to the top of Lola’s head.

Iker watched them with a small smile. As weird as things between him and Matilda still were, he couldn’t help but marvel at how she was with Lola.

Matilda straightened up, her eyes catching Iker’s, before she took a little step back, her cheeks flaming pink again. “You still have my number, don’t you?” she asked, her voice light and playful.

Iker laughed, nodding his head. “I believe I do” he mused.

“Good” Matilda replied “I mean, I’m certain that you won’t need it, but if you need me for anything…”

“I’ll call you” Iker finished for her “Though, I think you’re right. Me and Lola will be fine” he added.

“I know you will be” Matilda said warmly “But I am still going to call later. I don’t know I will be able to sleep until I know she’s asleep” she added.

Iker smiled softly, allowing a moment of quiet to pass between the two them, before Matilda’s phone beeped, causing her to offer him a slightly apologetic smile. “Is it Ok if I get going?” she asked.

Iker nodded. “You don’t have to ask” he answered.

Matilda smiled shyly, tucking a piece of her hair off of her face. “You really think I look OK?” she asked “I mean, it’s not like it’s a secret that I had a baby six weeks ago, but…”

“You look beautiful, Mattie” Iker interrupted “Just like always” he added, his voice slightly wistful.

Matilda heard the tone of his voice, but didn’t do anything to acknowledge it. She didn’t know what she could do or say without making things worse between the two of them. Smoothing out her dress, she kept her eyes on the floor for a beat before she lifted her eyes to meet Iker’s which had been watching her intently. “I’ll speak to you later” she said quietly “And I’ll be back first thing in the morning to pick her up. I’ll text when I leave my place?” she asked.

Iker nodded his head, but didn’t say anything, something Matilda took as her cue to get moving. Stepping towards him, she gently plucked Lola out of his arms before she lifted her up, pressing a soft kiss to her cheek and forehead. “Mama loves you, sweetheart” she said tenderly “And you’re going to have the best time staying with your Papa. Try not to be too hard on him, eh?” she teased gently.

Iker just watched quietly until Matilda leant back towards him, carefully lowering Lola into his arms. “Goodnight, Iker” she said softly.

“Have a good night, Mattie” Iker replied.

Matilda offered him an awkward little wave before she stepped out of the room. Iker sat and listened to her footsteps, and then the front door, before he let out a soft sigh, shaking his head ruefully as he looked down at Lola. “What am I supposed to do about your mama, eh?” he prodded “I mean, it’s been a very long time since we…and we’re still not getting better, and that’s no good for you” he added, smoothing Lola’s dark hair.

Lola wriggled, her big blue eyes staring up at him until he tipped forwards, kissing her forehead gently. “We’ll figure it out” he whispered.
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Thanks to Jayme112234 for the comments :)