It’s the third time the lady behind him has tutted in just as many minutes, and Levi is on his last thread of self control. He turns to her slowly.
“There’s no changing table in the men’s,” he grinds out.
She hums at him in distaste and Levi turns back around, his grip on Eren tightening a little.
It’s not like he wants to go in there. Listening to people pee as he changes a shitty diaper is not exactly his idea of a good time. Besides, public restrooms are gross, and the changing tables in them, he’s found, are not any better off.
He’s changed Eren on the sink before because the table was so disgusting. He got disapproving looks then, too, but they were as unwarranted as the ones he was getting from this lady. It’s not like anyone was eating off of the sink - some of the fuckers that gave him the stink eye didn’t even wash their damn hands - and he was closer to hot water and soap to clean up that way.
The woman sighs deeply and tuts again, and Levi is this close to decking her when someone else clears their throat and a deeper voice says
Levi turns his head and looks up at a tall, blond man.
“Hello. I’m sorry for coming up to you out of the blue, but I couldn’t help but notice you are having some trouble,” he says, eyes flicking furtively to the lady behind Levi. “Might I offer you the use of our changing table?”
He gestures over to another, taller blond man who cradles a baby in one arm and lifts what looks like a laptop carrying bag towards Levi.
“That’s…a changing table?”
“It folds out.”
“I didn’t know they made those,” Levi says as he follows the man.
Levi is woefully unprepared for taking care of a kid. He’s just been using - and rebuying once he runs out - whatever Izzy and Farlan had.
“My name’s Erwin,” the man says once they’ve joined the other. “This is my partner, Mike, and this little fellow is our son, Armin.”
Armin makes a noise that is a cross between a sneeze and a hiccup, and Levi’s heart twinges because that is damn near the most painfully cute thing he’s ever heard. The most endearing thing Eren has done so far is a fart that sounded like a whistle.
“He says hi,” Mike translates and Levi’s mouth twitches briefly into a smile.
They go into the men’s bathroom, Levi giving the woman still waiting in line a surreptitious middle finger as they do, and Erwin unfolds the contraption - which is clean, thank fuck - on the far end of the sink.
“Need me one of these,” Levi marvels.
“Yes, they’re very handy.”
He takes a step back when he’s done and Levi comes forward.
“What’s his name?” Erwin asks as Levi begins to change Eren’s diaper.
“He must look a great deal like his mother.”
“Sort of,” Levi answers. “He’s kind of a combination, really.”
Erwin and Mike tilt their heads in consideration.
“I’m not the dad,” Levi says.
“Ah,” they both breathe.
“Are you babysitting?” Erwin asks.
“For another seventeen and a half years, yeah.”
“Oh…I’m so sorry.”
Levi shrugs. “I was planning on being the cool uncle, but I guess that went up in smoke.”
It’s a joke that’s in poor taste, but that’s how Levi deals with it. It’s a trait that’s pretty off putting, and probably why he doesn’t have any friends. He imagines these two are regretting helping him now, and will take their leave as quickly as they can.
“You’ll just have to practice your dad jokes instead,” Erwin says.
Levi looks up at him in surprise. “…I guess so.”
Levi’s done changing Eren at this point, so he lifts him in order for Erwin to take away and refold the changing table, and then puts Eren’s blanket down so he can begin wrapping Eren’s squirmy little ass back up. He starts by lifting the left end of the blanket, pauses, rethinks it, lifts the right end, and pauses again.
“Hey,” Mike says, “give me your phone.”
Levi raises an eyebrow at him.
“No offense, but you look like you don’t know what you’re doing.”
“What? Like you don’t agree.”
“You could have said it more kindly.”
“It’s fine. I am clueless.”
Mike gives Erwin a triumphant smile and takes the phone that Levi hands him, tapping a number in quickly before handing it back.
“So, you want a demonstration?” Mike asks then, nodding at Eren.
“Yes or I’ll be here all day,” Levi sighs.
Mike hands Armin off to Erwin and stands next to Levi.
“The key is to pretend you’re making a burrito. You don’t want the good bits spilling out.”
Levi snorts and Erwin sighs.
“What have I told you about comparing children to food?”
“That I need to stop because it makes you weirdly and unexplainably hungry?”
Levi snorts again. “You guys are nuts.”
“Don’t mention those or he’ll want pad thai.”
“They do have a Thai restaurant in the food court…” Erwin muses.
“Give me more baby tips and it’s my treat,” Levi says. These guys are nuts, but knowledgeable. Mike already has Eren swaddled, and Levi swears it was by magic.
“Come,” Erwin says, hand on Levi’s shoulder, “we have much to discuss.”
It was never truly his, the life he was born into. He’d known it from childhood, born with memories of monsters, of a war with no end. Erwin Smith was born with the memories of cable wires shooting out with the pull of a trigger, sending an army through the air, of blades and blood that evaporates, of blood that stays. He was born with the memories of a man who had lived two decades before he saw the sun, of fierce gray eyes and a sharp tongue, a man who was small and beautiful and meant to fly. His little bird. He was born with the memories of a broken promise and the knowledge that he is meant to find this man, this little bird, a knowledge that he keeps private, learning early on that others will not take kindly to these strange memories. A vivid imagination in childhood turns into a concerning quirk verging on madness as an adult and he quiets himself. His bird is in his dreams, in the shadows in his waking life, waiting. This life was never truly his, but he will live it if only so that he can prove to himself that this man exists, that somewhere he is looking for him too.
This is the first time, and perhaps it is due to his own naivety that he accepts without question the idea that he is fated to live again, to spend his life dedicated to a man he has yet to meet– maybe never will meet. He does not question the absurdity of it all, the guilt that consumes him for deaths he, now, has never seen, the desperate need for the man in his dreams, the name he finds himself whispering like a prayer as he lies in bed at night, eyes fixed towards the heavens: Levi, Levi, Levi. He questions nothing, fixated, obsessed, but somewhere someone was waiting for him, and in the end it’s all that matters.
Levi, Levi, Levi.
It happens at last during the winter of 1901, and Erwin is on the train, alone with a first class ticket in a quiet, comfortable car, off to visit a friend of the family (by obligation rather than by his own desire, but he’s resolved to be nothing but pleasant– he always is, when he can help it, after all). He is reading the paper when a silent stranger shuffles in, sliding into the seat directly across, a simple bag tossed beside him. Queen Victoria is dead. The stranger lights a cigarette, slumps against the window with a sigh. At half a glance it’s a man, a boy perhaps, small and dark and unremarkable in every way save for his stature and his unusually sharp angles. He is drowning in worn and ill fitting but well-kept clothes. It’s a wonder what a man like that is doing in a first class car. Erwin has no intention to gaze fully but there’s a nagging at his chest, a flash from a dream, from a memory, a whisper. A name. Blue eyes flicker up, the train is moving– he meets half-lidded gray, head against a curled fist, cigarette dangling between thin lips. Gray eyes meet his, cool impassivity turning to shock, head lifting. The cigarette is crushed against the sill of the window by a slow, hesitant hand.
And then there’s a weight against his chest, coming at him so fast it knocks him back into his seat and he almost forgets to wind his arms around the smaller body, to cradle him like something precious, something sacred. There’s a muffled choked out sob, “Oh fuck,” into Erwin’s shirt, drenched in relief, and Erwin wonders how long Levi’s gone thinking he was simply insane. He’s beautiful, he always has been but especially now, real and whole and his, and Erwin thanks every god he can think of for this second chance– for that’s what this must be, a blessing, a way to make amends for the lives he’s taken, the men and women and children he once sent off to die. A miracle.
no but imagine if erwin decided that to gain money for the survey corps they made a calendar like fireman style theyre all half naked doing suggestive things youve got erwin shirtless riding a horse and mike is wearing noting but his white pant and 3DMG lifting weights and then you have levi in uniform wet and bent of ver a carriage he’s washing by the end of the week all the noble men feel very uncomfortable and all their wives have at least two copies in the house