Like You Did Before

07: I Wanted To Be That

“Do you remember where everything is?” Matilda asked as she padded into the living room, her eyes settling on her parents who were sat on the couch, talking amongst themselves. She knew that they were excited about babysitting. When she had called them to ask if they’d mind watching Lola for a couple of hours, they’d jumped at the chance, but still she remained a little nervous. In seven weeks, Lola had spent all of her time with either Matilda or Iker around, and whilst she knew her parents would be fine with her, the prospect of leaving still made her nervous. It was an out of the blue invitation. After their conversation about the state of things between them, they’d only grown cooler with one another, and so when he’d stopped by the front door the night previous and asked if she was free that night, she’d hesitated before she’d accepted the invitation.

He’d been right. They did have a lot to talk about, but Matilda knew that if they pushed things too hard, too fast, they’d only end up fighting again, something which would put pressure of the tentative truce that existed between one another. They’d learned to be pleasant. Even if they were a little cold towards one another, when they were around Lola, they were Ok, but Matilda knew it couldn’t continue like that forever. Eventually, the way they were was going to cause them problems and affect Lola who they both wanted to be as happy as she could be.

Bracing a hand on the door frame, she adjusted her shoe, before she cleared her throat. “Mama, papa?” she prodded.

Adrienne and Luis looked up at her. “Hm?” her mother prodded.

“You remember where I told you everything was, right?” Matilda asked “Her clothes, the nappies?” she added.

Adrienne nodded. “The clothes are in the top of your wardrobe” she answered “And the nappies are in the bathroom. You’ve already given us the full rundown” she added, smiling teasingly.

Matilda rolled her eyes, moving to collect her coat.

Luis and Adrienne shared a look before Luis sighed. “Sweetheart, what is tonight about?” he asked gently.

Matilda gently pulled her hair out from beneath her collar before she shrugged, running her fingers through it. “It’s dinner” she replied vaguely.

“With your ex-boyfriend” Adrienne contributed “I think what your father was trying to ask is why you’d be going out to dinner with him” she added.

Matilda fiddled with the ends of her hair for a moment longer before she shook her head, diverting her stare down towards her feet. “We need to learn to coexist” she said quietly “For Lola’s sake, obviously, but for our own sakes too, and I think this is him trying to make the effort. I don’t know how successful it’ll be, but he’s made the first move, and I’ve got to try and meet him half way. I don’t want us to end up hating each other, mama” she added.

She didn’t know how it would go. When they spoke about anything other than Lola, they tended to find a way to upset one another, but if Iker was willing to try and make things between them easier, Matilda wanted to go along with him. They weren’t going to make things easier for anyone if they were always at one another’s throat, least of all Lola, and they both had to be prepared to make the effort. They were both responsible for the way things were and they both had to be responsible for trying to improve them.

Adrienne’s expression softened before she nodded her head. “I hope it works out” she mused.

Matilda’s answering laugh was slightly sad. “You and me both” she mused “If you two need me for anything…”

“We’ll call” Luis finished for her “Good luck” he added.

Matilda flashed him a brief smile before she leant over, pressing a soft kiss to Lola’s head. Mumbling a quiet goodnight, she offered her parents a little wave before she progressed towards the door, hoping that that night went better than ones that had preceded it.

“Who’s watching Lola?”

Matilda, who’d been quietly perusing the menu, looked up from it, biting back a sigh when she saw that Iker’s face was still hidden behind his. Shaking her head, she looked back at the menu before she answered. “My parents” she said.

Iker nodded stiffly, allowing the silence to creep back over the two of them.

Matilda peeked over the top of her menu before she gently laid it down. “I thought you invited me out because you wanted to talk, Iker” she said gently “If we’re just going to sit here in silence, I might as well go” she added.

Iker hesitated before he slowly laid his menu down, his dark eyes mirroring hers. “I thought a lot about what you said last time” he said, each word careful and deliberate “I thought about all of it, of course, but the part where you said I didn’t trust you…that stuck out. I need you to try and put yourself in my shoes for a moment. I’d fallen in love with an amazing woman, but we had a habit of getting into stupid fights, and every time we did, she ran off to another man…”

“Iker” Matilda protested gently “It wasn’t…”

“You went to Arthur” Iker cut her off “Because he’s your best friend, Mattie, but it always made me uncomfortable. I know you don’t think that there’s anything between the two of you, but I do. Maybe not on your part, but Art? He looks at you like I looked at you. So imagine that for me. My girlfriend runs away to her best friend and tells him everything that’s wrong with our relationship. You were never as open with me as you are with him and that bothered me. I wanted to be the one you told everything to, but I could never compete with Art and I knew it” he added, his voice softening a little.

Arthur had always been there. When Iker and Matilda had first gotten together, the first person that Matilda had introduce him to had been Arthur, and it’d unsettled Iker. Arthur was the person that Matilda would go to when things went wrong, and Iker had always thought that the other man harboured some sort of feeling for Matilda, something which had caused his dislike of the other man to grow. Arthur was Matilda’s confidant, he knew things that Iker didn’t, and he hated that Matilda would always feel more comfortable running off to Arthur than staying and trying to talk to him. When they were in a room together, he always felt like he was the only one missing out on some kind of inside knowledge.

Matilda stared down at the table, thinking over what he had said, before she let out a quiet sigh. “He’s been my friend since we were kids” she murmured.

“I never asked for you to stop having him as a friend” Iker replied “I just…I just wish that you hadn’t kept sticking him between us. I know I used him too often in our fights, and I shouldn’t have kept making comments about your feelings for him, but I just wish he’d known less. I hated feeling like I was the only one in the room who didn’t really know what was going on” he added.

“I never wanted you to feel like that” Matilda protested gently “It’s just easier for me to talk to him. He’s seen all the bad bits, the good ones, and I know I don’t have to hide anything from him. I worried that letting you see the worst parts would…”

“I want to see the bad parts, Mattie” Iker cut her off.

“Want to?” Matilda prodded, noticing that he’d slipped out of the past tense. She tried her hardest to keep the hopefulness out of her voice.

“Wanted to” Iker corrected himself, his cheeks pink “I wanted every part, Mattie and I felt like I didn’t get that, but Art did. Can you honestly blame me for thinking that there could be something in that? You went to him so often, he always looked like he knew more than I did…can you blame me for being a little insecure about my position as your boyfriend?” he asked.

Matilda had to hide her flinch at his firm correction, but she still answered his question, shaking her head slightly. “No” she murmured.

“I just wanted to be that person, Mattie” Iker said gently “The person you needed and wanted most, and I didn’t feel like that then” he added.

Matilda nodded her head slowly before she lifted her head, meeting his eyes. “I’m sorry for that” she replied “I should have made you feel like that. You were the person I wanted, Iker, and I am so sorry that I didn’t show it. I’m sorry that I hurt you” she added quietly.

Iker’s answering smile was small, but genuine. It felt like they’d made some kind of progress.
♠ ♠ ♠
Thanks to Jayme112234 for the comment :)