The kid was silent.
He sat in the passenger seat of his own car, small and munching worriedly on bickies that one of the blond men had gotten him, once he had stopped crying. He hadn't spoken a word since he had changed, according to Erwin at least. It had taken a lot of convincing to get permission from the commander to take Levi home with him.
He's a lot different now, you have to be careful.
He didn't know how many times Erwin had said that, but it had been a lot, too many to count. He had been pulled away, which had been a drama in itself. The child had cried out at his disappearance, not wanting to be left alone, in such a strange place.
I know you don't know much about Levi's past, and… neither do I really, but he's in a bad way at the moment, you have to be careful with him.
What do you mean? What do I need to know? He's just a kid version of Levi.
His name isn't even Levi, that's just what he calls himself. His name is Rivialle, he lived in France, I don't even think he speaks english.
Wrong point, there was a time before I knew him, or even before Hange knew him. He… he had some trouble at home. Real trouble… his dad…
Oh, god, what did he do?
I don't know. Levi never told me, I know it was bad.
Eren slid a pair of green eyes over to the kid. His still only wore Levi's dress shirt, and even that was beginning to slip down thin shoulders. Eren wondered if his old clothes from when he was a kid would fit him, he would have to call Mikasa.
"Hey, kid, Rivaille, do you want some dinner?" The child looked at him in confusion, not having the faintest idea what this person was talking about. He began making strange gestures with his hands that might of resembled someone eating an invisible hamburger. Rivaille really did think that the man should of been paying attention to the road, but he had learnt to keep his mouth shut. If you spoke daddy got angry, and when he got angry it hurt. Rivaille shook his head. If you asked for food daddy got angry, even if he had offered if. The man looked at him surprised and refocused his eyes back on the road. He was frowning, and that worried the child. He didn't know where he was, everyone was speaking a language he didn't understand and was tired. It all just felt so strange, so… foreign.
"Well, I'm hungry, so we'll stop for take out" Eren realised that he was essentially talking to himself, but it felt good to just say it. He knew the kid was hungry and yet the child refused to admit it. He knew was that bickies did not suffice for a meal. He had from an expert source that when he was the kid's age all he wanted to do was eat.
He's in a bad way.
Yeah, well not shit, Erwin. Thanks a lot.
He clenched the steering wheel, new information, new drastic, deathly information, jarring his brain. He went through the drive through and brought the food and soon they were on their way again. He had gotten enough food to feed a small army, somehow he knew that the kid would want some when they got home. But… it wasn't really his home any more was it? That apartment belonged to the older Levi, the strong Levi, the capable Levi, the Levi that had seen too much and laughed too little. Somewhere between the take out place and the apartment, Rivaille fell asleep. His head resting on the door, his mouth open a little way.
Eren smiled as he watched. There was a similarity, one to add to the pile. So it seemed this Levi can fall asleep in any situation anywhere just like the older one. Eren carried the child in his arms up the stairs while the child drooled quietly into his shoulder. Eren was swift and somewhat decisive. This kid was his responsibility. Levi had looked after him when he was vulnerable and here was him, repaying that debt, like only he could. Because you protect the people you love… always.
Eren placed the take out on the counter and gently laid the child down on the sofa. He placed a soft kiss on the child's forehead, pushing black hair back with his hand. French, huh? he thought as he ventured deeper into his cold home, turning on lights and searching for something to keep the kid warm. He would need a bath before bed, so Eren also turned on the bath, hot water gushing out of the tap.
After a little while Rivaille awoke, finding himself in a living room, a living room he didn't know. He could hear a bath being run and the heavy patter of footsteps. He quietly and stealthily crept off the sofa. Hungry, he thought. A bag of food was on the counter, and the smell of sweetened bread was hanging dankly in the air. He wondered if the man was would notice if he took some, he didn't think so. By the time the man came back he was in the cabinet under the sink snacking on the food he had foraged for himself.
"Lee! Where did you go?! Levi! Wait, no… Rivaille!" While the kid didn't know what the man was saying he could recognise his own name. He quietly crawled out of the cabinet, sure that there were no crumbs around his mouth. The man stood in the middle of the kitchen and looked at him in surprise, before scooping him up. "Lee! You really scared me! What were you doing under the sink anyway?" The child only squealed, pushing away from him in fright. "Oh, sorry Lee. I'm just glad you're okay" he held the child to his shoulder and patter his back to sooth him. He eventually calmed down and Eren carried him to the bathroom for his bath.
He wasn't shy about tiny Levi being naked around him. This Levi was a totally different person, they just looked vaguely similar. No, it wasn't the nakedness that got to him. What got to him was that he could count the boy's ribs, what got to him was the bruises, what got to him was the scars. The scars that weren't meant to be on the body of a three year old child. Of course he had seen Levi's scars before, but he had been older and he had figured that Levi had gotten them doing military... suff, never would he had guessed that the scars had come from a time when he was so young. Eren held the child by the wrists, staring at the white matter skin raised like a tunnel on his pale completion. They were horrid. Scary. The older Levi's scars were faded and he should of known.
"Bastard" he whispered as he saw tears blurring his vision. "That bastard. How could he do this to just a little kid?" A tear fell from his eyelashes and landed with a small sound. Eren sniffed as he forced himself to think of how he must of gotten them. A sharp stick? A whip? Or maybe a simple knife being dragged slowly across skin. Eren rested his forehead on the boy's chest, and cried angry tears. How could someone do this to a kid? Just a little kid. He hadn't known there was that sort of evil in the world. It scared him. It scared him, how strong Levi was. He had never even thought of how Levi had gotten so strong, why he had had to be so resilient. He pulled back, cupping the boy's cheeks. He had only taken one semester of French and he could barely remember any of it, but after listening to Jean's foreign mumbles for as long as he had, you catch on a little.
"Je suis désolé, je suis tellement, tellement désolé. Je suis désolé que tu sois si peu. Mon amour, je suis tellement désolé" I'm sorry, I'm so, so sorry. I'm sorry you're so little. My love, I am so sorry. The man was still crying. Tears streaming down his face from his green eyes. Rivaille could only figure out half of what he was saying. His accent was terrible and mispronounced a good three quarters of all the words, but he got the idea. What was he apologising for? What was there to be so sorry about? This was just his body, what was wrong with him? Confused and startled he began to cry as well. He was hugged to a warm body and he wept into a soft teeshirt until he got to cold.
The bath was enjoyable for the most part. The man washed his hair and his body and made him all shiny and clean, he decided he liked the man. He just did. When he was done the man went and got him some more clothes. The clothes were smaller than the first shirt, but not by much. It was a big soft jumper. He sniffed at one of the sleeves while he sat in the lap of the man as he dried his hair with a towel. It smelt like flowers and he wondered how that had happened. He wasn't yet too tired to care.
Eren's eyes sprung open, silence echoing through his head. The sound of soft footsteps stepping quickly over the floorboards. Eren was out of bed in a second, his own footsteps near silence. It was a trick living with Levi had taught him, you wake up Levi you wake up the devil. He poked his head out of his bedroom and immediately spotted a small lump of toddler moving across the floor. Rivaille was obviously making an effort to be quite and he was doing a pretty good job. Eren was suddenly thankful that he was was a light sleeper.
In the dim he could barely see anything, but he could see Rivaille and his adventure across the apartment.
He was just reaching for the doorknob when Eren decided to put a stop to his excursion. He came up behind the child and scooped him up,
"And where do you think your going?" He said scathingly, the boy squealed in fright, but calmed once he realised that it was only him. If only it was this easy to gain the trust of the older Levi. He sighed. "Come on kid. That enough midnight adventures for now" the boy nestled into his arms after giving the door one last longing glance, like a prisoner to the prison door. He muttered something inaudible and Eren smiled, another thing that the older Levi did.
Eren had already decided that the kid would sleep in his room with him. He couldn't have him sneaking off again, even he could see that that would be a bad move. He'd probably get kidnapped or something. He shivered at the thought and hugged the boy a little closer to his chest.
He lay the boy down on the mattress and pulled the covers up to his chin. The child blinked sleepily at him and Eren smiled.
"Go to sleep, Lee" he said softly, getting in to bed beside the child.
"Hmm" hummed the boy in response. Eren stared up at the celling with his arm unconsciously wrapped around Rivaille.
What did he know about that name? It was so familiar. Rivaille. It was French. He would have to ask Jean if he knew anything about the name.
Oh well, he would find out later.
The child buried his nose in his side and Eren smiled. All would be well in the end.