How, precisely, three eleven year olds came to own and operate one of the most prestigious brothels in the city is a mystery that continues to confound the red light district, the military brass and the general population for years to come.
Asking Eren is pointless, since he’s just as confused everyone else. No one is willing to ask Mikasa, since by that point she’s already seen as some kind of very visually appealing boogeyman. Armin just smiles innocently, his expression making it seem like he doesn’t even know what a brothel is (which is a total lie).
They make it through the first year on luck and Eren’s amazing ability to stumble upon the one thing each customer just can’t resist, usually completely by accident.
So, basically, they make it through on luck.
Fortunately, after that first year, Armin’s little black book is well on its way to figuring in the nightmares -- and other kinds of dreams -- of much of the military brass.
It comes in very handy down the line, when Armin needs to explain to said brass why executing his best friend would be an unacceptable course of action for all of them.
Their first customer is Dot Pixis.
He strolls in after all the “girls” of the house have abandoned ship. Armin panics. He doesn’t know if telling Pixis that they won’t be running the brothel as a brothel any longer will get them kicked out onto the streets again, and he’s terrified to risk it, when they finally have a roof over their heads and a dry place to sleep.
Eren, meanwhile, begs Helga the cook, the only woman left in the house, to stall Pixis, somehow, any way possible.
Helga, a large woman with double braided buns like curled horns on either side of her head and arms almost as thick Eren’s waist, takes pity on them and storms the room they had left Pixis in with a thunderous expression on her strong features and a massive rolling pin in hand.
Pixis stares at her with an expression of complete shock. The door slams shut behind Helga. Neither emerges from the room until morning. Helga is still stern-faced but somehow almost glowing as she cooks breakfast for the children. Pixis stumbles out of the brothel with the look of a man who has discovered religion. Or maybe the devil. Also, with a pronounced limp.
He leaves behind not only a full night’s payment of the brothel’s rather high standard price, but also a very impressive tip.
Armin thinks that maybe they can have not only a place to sleep, but some food too, if they can figure this brothel thing out.
Most of the “girls” who join the restructured brothel are recruited by Eren. Well, Armin is the one who recruits them, explains the rules and pays their wages, but Eren is the one who brings them in. Armin thinks it’s better not to ask where Eren keeps finding these women. In short order, it’s almost a tradition to have Eren show up with a girl in tow, likely wearing a piece of his clothing, and ask for an extra serving of food for her.
(And if there is a dead body or two found the next day -- an abusive husband, a drug dealer, a human trafficker, and on one memorable occasion a particularly corrupt noble and his bodyguard -- well, Armin doesn’t know anything about that. Eren always somehow has an alibi, if the Military Police were to come asking. Not that they ever get around to actually taking Eren’s statement when they visit. Armin’s black book slowly fills up.)
Mikasa is jealous the first time, but quickly adjusts. Even though she is one of the youngest in the brothel -- Eren at one point does drag in a girl even younger, who helps Helga in the kitchen -- she considers herself the “big sister” who looks out for the others.
The entire red light district quickly learns how handy she is with a knife, especially where certain parts of the male anatomy are concerned. Specifically, detaching them.
Everyone is later horrified to discover she’s also quite handy without a knife.
The first time one of the girls gets knocked up, it’s a three ring circus spectacular. Mikasa manages to put an end to everyone running around like headless chickens and to simultaneously make everything much, much worse by demanding that someone finally explain to her how babies are made.
Needless to say, they keep the baby. The less said about the delivery -- naturally timed to be as inconvenient and embarrassing as possible -- the better.
Armin makes a few annotations in his little black book. Some men apparently wish for the family and hearth deep in their hearts.
The only person they never figure out is Levi. The first time Erwin drags him in, he and Eren spend the entire night arguing about whether or not Eren is a stupid, suicidal idiot with a death wish, who wouldn’t last ten minutes of a Survey Corps expedition. Levi refuses to pay them a single copper, when he finally hauls Erwin out and back to their barracks.
Despite the amount of swear words Levi directed at Eren, he still gushes about Humanity’s Strongest the next day, which isn’t really helpful as far as determining Levi’s preferences goes. They never do “service” him in any way. Armin tries to take it philosophically, but the empty space next to Levi’s name in his book continues to nag at him.
At least they do better with Levi’s squad (who also drag him into the brothel despite his protests). Well, sort of. Only half of them pay, since Eren accidentally locks Petra and Auruo into a single room and forgets about them for the rest of the night.
They do leave a generous tip though.
Actually, with the number of weddings they get invited to, you’d think they were running a matchmaking service, not a brothel.
At least the house is nice, the beds are soft, and the food is fresh, Armin thinks. Overall, he considers it a good career choice.