The first day Eren was kicked out by his parents, he had never been so determined in his life. He was going to get a job and become more successful than his parents ever were. He figured that Denver was a heavily populated city, and that there would be enough job opportunities.
After six failed job interviews, Eren wasn't feeling so great on the fourth day. Nevertheless he was still determined to prove to himself that he didn't need those assholes.
After the tenth day of homelessness, he was starting to become discouraged. Sleeping on park benches and underneath store overhangs was starting to get old.
The thirtieth day, Eren found himself on a street corner holding a sign. He honestly didn't know what street he was on, or when his last shower was. He hugged his knees to his chest and began to worry. Soon it would start to get cold, and he wasn't sure if his windbreaker would last.
The forty-fifth day was the beginning of autumn. The temperatures were starting to plummet and… Eren had found a homeless shelter. The wait to get in was insanely long. So, he took the food and left. There were too many old people that needed shelter more than he did.
He walked all the way to a park, hands in his pockets. He found a tree that looked comfortable enough, and slept there until an official kicked him out.
He made it to an empty street corner, where he cried for the first time in forty-six days.
I shouldn't have ever come out to my parents. Eren angrily wiped at his eyes. I want to go home. The sun was starting to come up, which meant he would need to find cardboard and a marker to make a new sign. (He had given his to a homeless mother).
Eren just didn't have the strength anymore. He slid down against the side of a store building and sat with his head in his hands.
I miss my sister. Eren rubbed his eyes again, trying to tell himself to man-up. He wasn't sure how long he sat there, just watching people drive and walk by.
At one point, he noticed a well-dressed man come by and stand relatively near to him. Eren watched him wearily out of the corner of his eye.
Oh, just a smoke break. Eren took a sigh of relief. He had to constantly be aware of drunken assholes who wanted to fight. He looked away, but glanced back once more at the man. He looked to be a bit shorter than Eren, but was very lean. He had a dangerous expression on his face. He looked somewhat familiar, but Eren didn't take too much interest. He just leaned back and rested his head against the wall. Maybe ten, fifteen minutes later, the man got up and walked away.
As he rounded the corner, Eren looked to the ground to see that he had dropped something. Another glance told him that it was the man's wallet. Eren scurried forward, grabbed it, and hopped to his feet. Geez, just by holding it, I can tell this guy's loaded.
The urge to keep it was there, but Eren ignored it. He jogged around the corner, and spotted the man walking to his car.
"U-uh, excuse me sir!" Eren called. He was a bit disgusted by how his own voice sounded gross from misuse. The stranger turned around and watched Eren speed walk up to him. Eren shakily held out the wallet. "Um…you…you dropped this."
The man looked somewhat surprised, and hesitated a moment before grabbing it. His dark features lightened slightly as he replied, "Thank you."
"You're uh…you're welcome." Eren felt uncomfortable and dirty next to the stranger. The man then turned on his heel, and went on his way. Eren rubbed the back of his neck and sighed. He wasn't expecting a reward…he just wished that he could have at least gotten his name. He was pretty good looking. Eren shrugged and walked back over to his spot by the wall.
Not even ten minutes later, a pair of feet had stopped directly in front of him. Eren's head snapped upwards, to see a woman with an insanely goofy grin on her face. She was dressed in just simple jeans, but still looked nice.
"Well hello there!"
Eren's eyes went wide. He wasn't quite sure what to think. "Uh…hi?"
"Can I sit with you?" Her eyes smiled behind her glasses.
"U-uh.." Eren looked at the curb he was sitting on. "If you want to get dirty? I guess."
"Oh, I don't mind." The happy woman took a seat next to Eren and hugged her knees. She faced him and smiled. "What's your name?"
"Eren…" He answered cautiously.
She shifted, still grinning. "Well, Eren. I have a proposition for ya'."
"Okay…" Who the heck is this chick?
"My boss wants you to work for him." She clapped her hands excitedly.
"W-wait what?" Eren rubbed at his ear. "I'm just a-"
"As a maid." She continued. "We just fired one today, and he's in need of a new one. Oh, the catch is that you have to live with us. But we totally pay for it! All you gotta' do is clean stuff and we'll-"
"Woah woah woah, hold up crazy lady." Eren held up his hands, "I don't even know your name, and you're telling me that you want me to come live with your boss? In case you haven't noticed, I'm a dirty ass hobo kid with no work experience. And who on Earth is your boss?" Eren's voice was annoyed, but the lady only laughed.
"First of all, my name is Hanji, it's very lovely to meet you- second, that guy with the wallet? That was the boss." She grinned. "We came down here for the political slash business meetings- boring as hell. Don't ever sign up to be a prince's secretary-"
"Hold up, what?" Eren got to his feet. "Look, I really appreciate your job offer but-"
Hanji sighed. "Just get in the car with me and I'll explain everything." She wrinkled her nose as she stood up also. "And we'll get you a shower, goodness gracious boy."
Eren felt the need to get defensive, but his brain told him otherwise. A job opportunity…with a place to stay? What if she's just fucking with me? Hanji walked forward a few steps before turning back and beckoning him to come along. Well…I guess I don't have anything else to do.
Eren wearily followed behind her.
Eren felt very out of place in the nice black car. It looked like one of those fancy vehicles the FBI drive in movies; with tinted windows and fancy leather seats. He eyed the driver wearing sunglasses.
"So uh… a maid?"
"Yeah, yeah. He's a total neat freak so we have to keep a lot of staff on campus." She shrugged.
"And uh...where is said, 'campus'?" Eren tugged on the sleeves of his jacket nervously.
"Northern California." Hanji replied in a matter-of-fact tone.
"California." Eren blinked. "But we're in friggin' Devner Hanji."
"Yeah, we're actually on our way to catch a plane back right now." She looked at her watch and nodded. "Levi has to stay for another meeting. He'll just catch the next one." The next private jet?!
"Okay, another question then." Eren asked, annoyed. "You called this guy a prince. America doesn't have princes. What the hell kind of drug are you on?"
"I didn't' say he was American!" Hanji grinned and held up a finger. "The prince of Stohess. Ever been? Beautiful place. Too bad Levi hates it."
Eren swallowed, "Wait, you're not kidding. Why…why aren't you kidding?"
Hanji clasped him on the shoulder and relaxed back onto the seat, "Just sleep little man. I'll explain more later."
Eren didn't sleep. Why am I trusting this person? What the hell am I thinking? Eren thought back to the smoker who dropped his wallet. That guy was a prince? Fuck no. I won't believe it. I've never heard of 'Stohess'. I'm just going to take this job, get a bit of money, and leave wherever the hell they're taking me.
During the car ride Eren had so many questions; he needed Hanji to talk.
During the plane ride he couldn't get Hanji to stop.
The private jet was so insanely fancy that he was actually able to shower and change. When he got out of the shower, he almost didn't recognize himself. He needed a haircut really bad. They at least gave him a razor so he could look like a normal nineteen year old kid, and not some dirty hobo with a beard. He was given just a normal pair of black jeans and a flannel button up. (He promised to pay them back, but Hanji waved him off and called him an idiot.).
Hanji told him all about this place apparently called Stohess. Some island by Norway? All Eren could understand was that it was beautiful and also fucking freezing. He honestly didn't care too much for all the royalty lessons Hanji was filling him in on. He just wanted to do his job.
"So this prince guy. He just goes around hiring homeless people?" Eren plucked off a grape from the fruit platter they had given him. He resisted the urge to down the entire thing.
"Not really," Hanji shrugged. "You gotta understand Eren," She shifted in her seat. "He fired the last girl because she only took the job to get close to him. Levi doesn't trust anybody. Maybe he hired you because he knew you would do the job without being some paparazzi freak or a bubbling fangirl."
Eren didn't reply to that. The only thought he had was, How lonely…
Apparently the thought escaped him, because Hanji replied, "Yeah, he is."
It was silent after that.
They flew into Oakland and drove outside the city by a couple miles. Eren just stared out the window and secretly marveled at the scenery. It was really green, and had lots of mountains, kinda like Denver. They drove on a seemingly abandoned road for a while, until they came across a beautiful open area of land. There was nice landscaping with well-trimmed trees and bushes. There was also a small fountain that was in the front yard along with flower beds.
The house wasn't a house.
It was a mansion.
Eren had never seen anything so enormous in his life. I have to fucking clean this?!
That thought also escaped, apparently, because Hanji laughed. "No, you're not the only maid. There's plenty more." The car pulled up into a beautiful driveway, and Eren had to remind himself to shut his jaw. Hanji kept talking, "Most of it is rooms for guests and the staff. You know, business partners, senators, all those important but shitty people."
He heard Hanji sigh as they stepped out of the car, "Home sweet home!" Eren could only look up and gape at the house. It had big double doors and he could see a railing where there was a second floor. From where he was standing, he could see a stable in the back.
"Hey, wake up Eren." Hanji snapped in front of his face, and he jumped. She laughed, "I have to give you the grand tour! Come on stop staring," Hanji grabbed his wrist and pulled him through the doors.
She stepped inside and yelled, "I'm back!"
It seemed to echo off of the marble floors and the tall ceilings. He heard someone call from the other room, "Hanji? Is that you?" The voice was calm, and a bit timid.
"Yeah Armin, come meet your new roommate," She yelled back. He noticed the driver hauling in all of Hanji's bags behind them.
A short boy with blonde hair jogged into the room. He was wearing normal dark jeans with a button up shirt. He had a uniform vest over it; otherwise he looked pretty casual. He walked up them and asked Hanji, "Is the boss here?"
"Nah, not until tomorrow," Hanji wrapped her arm around Eren's shoulders, and he tensed. "This is Eren! Your new cleaning buddy."
The blonde laughed, "Wow, that was fast. Analie was just fired yesterday." He turned and smiled towards him. "Eren," The blonde held out his hand, "Nice to meet you, I'm Armin. Analie was my roommate, so I guess you'll be with me now."
Eren shook his hand and nodded, "Yeah okay."
Armin chuckled, "He looks a little shell shocked."
"Moved him all the way from Denver," Hanji jokingly elbowed Eren. "It'll take some time, but soon you'll love it here."
"Yeah, okay." Eren repeated. He couldn't stop looking around at the giant rooms. Hanji smiled,
"Well Armin, how about you give him a tour? I gotta go run some numbers that I promised Levi I would have done like, yesterday." She grinned sheepishly.
Armin agreed, "Sure thing." He turned on his heel and nodded towards him, "Follow me."
Yeah, Eren was a little shocked. Just a day ago he was pretty sure he was going to die cold and hungry underneath a 7/11, and now he was being given a tour through a prince's mansion. He tried to remember everything Armin told him; like where they keep the cleaning supplies and what to touch and not to touch. He had to admit that Armin was really nice. He tried to go slow, and repeated things twice. He was walked around to the guest wing, and the staff wing, and the dining room. They stopped at the door of the kitchen, where two people could be heard arguing very loudly.
"Connie? Sasha?" Armin peaked around the corner. He called back to Eren, "Sorry, excuse me for one second." He walked into the kitchen, and Eren stood back quietly. He gazed at the insanely big dining room. There were multiple tables in a room adjacent, almost like a cafeteria. He looked up at the chandelier, and ignored the hushed yelling in the kitchen.
Suddenly Armin came back dragging two people, one in each hand. He sighed, "These are our cooks." Eren turned to acknowledge them, and almost burst out laughing. The two cooks were covered from head to toe in flour.
Eren giggled into his hand, and tried to introduce himself, "I-I'm ahah, I'm Eren." He offered out his hand.
"Hi!" A woman grabbed his hand excitedly, "I'm Sasha!"
"And I'm Connie." A young man with a shaved head bumped her out of the way and shook Eren's hand instead.
She cried "Connie!"
"Sasha!" He yelled back in a mocking voice.
"Also," Armin reached up and grabbed their ears. They instantly yielded, shouting in pain. "I may be a maid but I am not cleaning that up. Neither is Ymir or Christa or Eren so you two better get to work, friends."
"Fine fine fine," Sasha was almost on her knees, "We'll clean it up!"
"Good!" Armin smiled warmly, and let go. The two cooks rubbed their red ears and retreated back into the kitchen. Sasha peeped back around the corner and waved,
"Welcome to the family Eren!"
He just stared, and waved back halfheartedly. Armin breathed out a big sigh, and looked up at Eren with tired eyes. He gave a small smile, "They're really talented, believe it or not."
Eren gave a small laugh, which urged Armin to laugh with him.
Eren was led through the rest of the house. There was a beautiful study with books piled up to the ceiling. They also walked past Levi's bedroom, and he was introduced to all twelve bathrooms that would need cleaning. As he walked around, he found that the house wasn't as big as he thought it was. This place is fucking huge but…I can do this. From what Armin's told me…the pay is pretty good. It's going to be hard work but, I can do this.
Eren found himself being led out a back door. He stepped out into the fresh air and noticed the barn he saw earlier.
"So this dude has horses? Wow." Eren followed Eren along the outside path.
"Yeah, he is a prince after all." Armin shrugged. He suddenly stood up straight, like he had just remembered something. "Also," He spun around; Eren almost ran into him. "Don't call him prince."
"Uh…" Eren looked down at the blonde, "Okay…why?"
"He doesn't like it." Armin turned back around and began walking.
Eren rolled his eyes, "That's dumb."
"Not really," Armin shrugged. "This is his home. He doesn't want to have to deal with all the formalities. That's kinda the reason he left the king and all ."
"You know a lot about this guy." Eren tried to keep up with Armin's quick pace.
He smiled, "I've worked for him for a long time." Eren didn't reply. Armin knocked on the barn door, and stepped inside. "Hey, you guys in here?"
"Armin!" A head of brown hair popped up from behind a horse. "How are you?"
Another head popped up behind a horse across the room, "Who's that?"
"This," Armin tugged him forward, "is Eren. My new cleaning buddy."
The two people stepped out from behind the horses and began to walk forward. One marveled, "Wow, and he just fired Analie yesterday."
The other one replied, "The boss works fast. You know how that clean freak is. Can't go two days without having four maids on hand." The brown haired man elbowed him and turned to Eren with a smile.
"Hi! I'm Marco." He looks friendly enough. Marco elbowed the guy next to him, who only folded his arms and stared at Eren. Marco sighed, "And this, is Jean."
"They're the stable hands." Armin commented.
"He pays people to stay here just to take care of horses?" Eren marveled.
Jean growled and took a step forwards, "You got a problem with that, buddy?"
Eren narrowed his eyes, "Wow, you don't have to be so defensive."
"Defensive? Why on Earth did the boss hire this idiot?" Jean snapped. Eren was about to reply, when Marco intervened.
"Sorry, ignore him." He smiled, and Eren relaxed his shoulders. Jean mumbled and looked away. Marco shook his hand. "It's really nice to meet you!"
Armin tugged on Eren's sleeve, "Well, we will leave you two to work." He pulled Eren out of the barn, and Marco waved them off.
Eren sat on the bed Armin said was his; he looked around the room and mumbled, "That guy needs an attitude check."
Armin laughed, "Yeah, that's Jean for you." The blonde sat on his own bed across the room and slipped off his shoes before sitting cross legged and grabbing a book off of the dresser. The room was a pretty good size. They each had night stand and a cabinet for clothes. Eren felt a bit uncomfortable because he had nothing to unpack.
Instead he looked at all the countless books piled on Armin's bedside table. He asked, "So…you uh…like to read?"
Armin looked at him and smiled, "Yeah, I do. That's pretty much how I spend all my free time. The first year I started working here the heir let me borrow books from his study."
Eren replied, "Really? I only saw him once, but he seems like a guy with a sick up his ass."
"He's straight faced and a bit scary," Armin agreed, "But he's not a bad guy."
Eren asked, "How long have you worked here?"
"Umm…" Armin thumbed the page of his book, "Like five years?"
"Really?! How old are you?" Eren sounded astounded. "And if you've worked here five years, how come you've never left? I'm sure you'd have made enough money by then."
Armin laughed, "Well, it's kind of a loyalty thing, I guess. Also, I'm twenty. I was orphaned at fifteen when my grandpa passed away."
"I uh…I'm sorry-"
"It's okay," Armin waved him off, "My grandpa had done business with the prince once, so when he found out he sent Hanji and she picked me up."
"He sounds like a tsundere." Eren noted. Armin burst out laughing,
"Ahah, oh my gosh, please don't ever say that to him. He'll probably stab you on the spot."
Eren laughed with him.
Dinner was at seven; apparently that cafeteria looking part of the house was where everyone ate. The two cooks made like twenty pizzas and let everyone have a free for all. A girl with freckles laughed,
"Sasha, Connie, we could have just ordered pizza."
"I'm not feeding you shit." Sasha took a bite of what Eren could only guess was her eighth piece. Eren sat back in his seat next to Armin and watched all the staff interact.
"Hey," A tall guy and his even taller friend slid into the seats next to them. "Who's the new guy?"
"Eren." He nodded to the two of them.
The blonde one smiled, "I'm Reiner, and this is Bertholt."
"Your names sound pretty exotic." Eren replied, straight faced. Reiner burst out laughing, and Bertholt turned a couple shades darker, for whatever reason.
"Yeah, we came over here from Stohess. So did Ymir." He nodded over to the girl sitting with Christa. Eren liked Christa; she was almost too sweet for her own good.
Eren asked, "What are you two?"
"Gardeners." The taller one, Bertholt answered.
Reiner added, "We do all the touch ups around the house. We also fix shit."
Eren was about to reply when suddenly there was a loud noise of the front door opening, and then slamming shut. The room quieted down some, and the attractive smoker from before walked into the room. The atmosphere completely shifted. Some people began to stand up and others took off hats, but Levi waved them off,
"I'm just grabbing food, sit the fuck back down."
The employees wearily did as they were told, and Levi escaped with two pieces of pizza. There was hushed whispering as soon as he left the room.
"Wow, he's real classy." Eren rolled his eyes.
Armin shushed him, making sure that the man was out of earshot. Finally the room began to pick up conversations again.
The first week Eren shadowed Armin around the home. He just did as he was told; which was easy enough. Wipe windows, scrub floors. Not too hard. They got breakfast, lunch, and dinner breaks. They also got time off as long as they completed their list of things to clean.
The second week he was given his schedule and told the areas he was in charge of cleaning. He had to take care of the living room, study, and a couple rooms in the guest wing. It didn't sound like a lot, but holy hell...the living room.
Eren stared up at the chandelier that hung a good ten or eleven feet above him. He adjusted his uniform vest nervously. He mentally thanked the fact that he was given a couple pairs of shirts and pants. He guessed the fee would be pulled out of his paycheck.
Eren looked over at Armin, who had offered to help him. He only had one word, "…how."
Armin laughed, "There's a ladder out back. Come on."
It took a good thirty minutes for the duo to get the damn thing clean. Eren didn't mind heights, but the idea of breaking an object worth more than him was terrifying.
He thanked Armin multiple times before the two split ways. It took him almost all day to complete the enormous living room and the guest bedrooms. He could probably go faster, but from rumors he'd heard, the boss guy would kick his ass if he spotted something wrong. Something about laziness? Eren didn't care, he just wanted to keep this job.
He pushed open the door to the study, and dragged in his cleaning materials. He breathed out a sigh, and turned around to see the heir himself typing away at his desk.
"Oh, uh…" Eren shifted his weight on his feet. "Do you want me to come back or…?" Eren observed the stoic man. Wow…he…he's actually really gorgeous. People would kill for skin that clean.
Levi waved him in, so Eren shrugged and went ahead. He looked at the huge bookcase, and mentally sighed in relief. Thank fucking budda that thing only has to be thoroughly cleaned once a week. Eren grabbed the ladder attached to the bookcase and climbed to start dusting off the top. Halfway up the ladder he cringed as the wheels creaked. It was a contrast to the dead silence in the room.
He resisted the urge to turn around when he felt eyes on him.
He mopped the floor and cleaned the windows; wiped off the wood desk and sanitized the door handle. He suddenly couldn't take the dead silence, and he spoke up.
"Um…sir." Eren held the dirty rag behind his back with one hand, and clenched it nervously. "I just wanted to say thanks. For…for the job, I mean. Thank you." Eren mentally cursed himself for stuttering. He watched as the heir stood up, grabbing his laptop with him. He responded as he walked past Eren, towards the door,
"Get a haircut. You look like a fucking caveman."
"I fucked up already." Eren mumbled into his pillow. Armin chuckled from across the room.
"You're fine. I looked over everything you did and it's so clean I could lick it."
"Those were literally the first words out of his mouth, Armin. That guy can't be a prince. He's the caveman."
Armin laughed, "Well, he was right about the haircut though. It's longer than mine, and that's pretty bad."
"I can't cut hair. I didn't go to college." Eren joked.
Armin shrugged, "We can get one of the girls to cut it for you."
So that's how Eren ended up here, in the tub of the shared staff bathroom. Christa took scissors to the tips of his ears; he watched clump after clump of hair fall down to the bottom of the tub.
"So Eren," Christa spoke up, "Where are you from?"
"Where did Levi find you?"
"Find me?" Eren replied, amused. "On the corner of a street, homeless."
"Wait, so you're telling me that all you have is the clothes on your back?" She peeked around so she could see Eren's eyes.
She tsked, "That's just not right- you poor thing. You know, first paycheck, we're getting you some new clothes."
"I don't really mind-"
"No, shh." She snipped a piece off of his bangs. "I know best, trust me."
Eren laughed, and remained silent. I guess this place isn't so bad. Even if the guy in charge is an ass.
Eren's second encounter with the young lord took place a week later. Again, he met him in the study. Eren had walked in to begin his daily clean up when he spotted Levi in the corner, this time curled up with a book. He knocked on the open door, and Levi waved him in again.
A few minutes in, the heir finally looked up and said, monotone, "You cut your hair."
Eren's head whipped over, and looked at the man staring at him with half lidded eyes. It feels like he's staring into my soul.
Eren ran his fingers though his now normal hair, "Oh, uh, yeah. It kinda did need to be cut." Eren chuckled.
"Hm." Levi replied. He looked back down in his book, "If I told you to take your ass and jump off a bridge, would you?"
Eren raised an eyebrow and responded almost automatically. "No. That would be stupid."
Levi was surprised by the answer, but kept his expression neutral. "Really now."
Eren noticed his mistake, and backpedaled. Oh shit, i just back-talked a prince.
"I mean uh-"
"No, no. Keep working, brat." The prince kept reading.
He didn't leave the room like last time.