C h a p t e r O n e
♔✳D i s h w a s h e r✳♔
Louis was huffing and puffing as he ran through the crowded streets of early morning London. The street lamps were on, illuminating the faces as Louis passed them. It was five past eight, meaning he was late for his shift. The sun was slowly rising over the horizon somewhere while the darkness and its chill clung onto the air. People shot Louis dirty glares as he bumped by them in his rush to make it to work. His first day and he was late. This was his one chance to finally turn things around and he was late. Great job Lou, he thought bitterly. He felt his phone buzzing in his pocket and winced knowing it was probably Niall trying to get a hold of him. Niall was the one who helped Louis get the job and was probably frustrated with his tardiness.
Finally he rounded a corner and was met with the sign of the place that would hopefully continue to be his job until he was up on his own two feet again. He walked inside and took the elevator up to the fifth floor, where the business resided. He stepped from the elevator once it dinged and the doors opened again. The red carpets of the hall leading to the doors of Louis new job were freshly cleaned and it had an expensive look to it. It was definitely a place Louis wouldn’t be able to afford to go to.
Swallowing nervously he walked up to the clear glass door. His whole future was pending on this place, which was made very clear to him. Slowly his fingers reached out and pushed open the doors.
Louis was you’re not so average twenty two year old male in many ways. He had a certain night job that probably didn’t look good on a resume. Ever since he’d left his home to move to London for a fresh start he’d made a few wrong turns and a few right. He started dating an asshole – bad choice. Said asshole turned out to be affiliated with a gang – bad choice to stay with him afterwards. Worst choice? Joining in on the fun. Now Louis didn’t do anything bad, never did any hard drugs and surely never killed anyone. He just followed around his now ex-boyfriend who ‘helped’ Louis get a job as a stripper. Quite a turn of events for the Doncaster boy. He’d met Zayn at his new occupation, a raven haired boy with tattoo’s and a shy side to him. Louis easily befriended his fellow co-worker and moved in with him only two months after moving to London. They had quickly become the best of friends and were literally inseparable. Zayn was trying to get out of the business and was working with Louis to get out as well. Louis never told Zayn about his boyfriend, and Zayn never pried, the exception was when it became apparently that Louis would regularly come home with bruises on his wrists and his forearms. Once Zayn had found out why the bruises were there he was quite furious at his friend for not confiding in him, especially when he realized what Louis ex was capable of. It was then that Zayn made a very strong effort to get them out of the stump they were in. He first got Louis to break up with his boyfriend which was very hard and scary for Louis at the time. His second step was contacting old friends. Zayn was the one who got in contact with Niall and informed them of their situation. Niall happily obliged to help them – even though he didn’t know Louis in the slightest – and booked them an appointment at his work as dishwashers. There was only one position available however and Zayn gave it to Louis, hence why Louis was now entering the high class restaurant.
Louis gawked at the expensive and high class atmosphere that surrounded the place. The table cloths were a crème colour and the walls were painted a deep red. The floor was expensive black marble and each table was adorned with candles and fresh roses. The lights were dimmed and set off a seductive atmosphere. Louis was curious as to why the place was open so early, considering it at a night feeling to it but brushed it off. Who cared, it was screaming money and Louis knew he wouldn’t get chinced out of a paycheck.
“Louis! There you are you dolt!” Niall exclaimed.
Louis recognised the familiar voice and spun to face the Irish boy. He was standing looking slightly irritated by the kitchen doors. Louis winced and headed over to him with an apologetic look.
“Sorry, there was some difficulty with a patron. It took a while before I got off,” Louis explained in a hushed voice. He didn’t want anyone to clue in on his other job.
The ever understanding boy nodded with a smile at Louis. “S’okay. Just don’t make a habit of it. I checked you in and just told them you were in the restroom. You owe me,” Niall joked as he wrapped his arm over Louis’ shoulder and dragged him into the kitchen. “Got our part-timer!” he cheered as they entered the kitchen.
There were people moving about with all kinds of pans and pots, setting up for the day. The place didn’t open until nine, but they had to prep for the onslaught that must occur during their open hours. The kitchen paused for a moment to look at their new employee. Louis waved with a grin at the people who stopped to take him in.
“This is Louis, the guy I was talking about,” Niall introduced Louis to the staff.
“Nice to meet you,” one of them cut in. He was wearing a suit tailored to him and had scruff on his face, unkept but at the same time kept. He had soft brown hair and warm brown eyes. He extended his hand which Louis took and shook. “I’m Liam Payne. The manager,” Liam introduced himself with a warm smile. Louis immediately relaxed.
“Louis Tomlinson,” Louis replied with a grin.
“It’s great to finally meet you. Niall gave you a very good recommendation. And I trust he knows what he’s talking about,” Liam chuckled warmly as he dropped Louis hand. “I’m very sorry we could only hire one of you. I hope your friend isn’t too disappointed,” Liam frowned.
“Nah,” Louis shook his head. “He’s fine. He’s looking at some more jobs, he wants to paint rather than wash dishes anyways,” Louis shrugged. Zayn was an artist and had gone to art school before dropping out because he didn’t want his mother to go into debt while trying to support him.
Liam hummed at that. “I was debating on whether to get an abstract painting of sorts on one of our walls. I should contact him and see about his work, I do feel bad about not being able to hire the both of you,” Liam rambled.
Louis chuckled and Liam smiled. So far he was enjoying the calm atmosphere and warm staff. Niall patted Louis on the shoulder once to signal he was doing a good job at first impressions with Liam. Louis was grateful Liam wasn’t too uptight. He could tell the man was to an extent but not so much that he was about to kick Louis out for wearing jeans, a vans shirt, and toms to work. Before Niall could say anything Liam cut in,
“I suppose I should introduce you to the owner. He’s a little rambunctious so I’m not sure where he is at the moment,” Liam shook his head with a grin. “Probably off baking pastries on the other side,” Liam explained.
Liam then took Louis and Niall towards a different section of the ridiculously large kitchen. There were quite a few different employees that greeted them but didn’t pay much mind as they were busy with prep. Once they entered a different area Louis eyes widened as he saw a boy with his back turned to him. He was wearing black jeans along with a white shirt and apron. A mop of curly hair was tied up into a bun as he leaned over the counter near the back. His muscles were visible through the tight shirt and Louis had to remind himself not to look at his bum for fear of being caught but he knew the boy probably had a nice bum.
“Harry! Got the new dishwasher,” Liam called as they approached the man.
“Oh, sorry,” the man – Harry – apologized as he stood up straight and turned to them.
Louis breath was taken away as he looked at him. He had plump pink lips and a strong jaw line. His nose was sharp and adorable. His eyes were breathtaking, a beautiful green mossy colour that Louis noticed immediately. Some small brow curls were free from the bun and brushed against his neck softly. Louis was shocked at the sheer beauty of the man before him and had to reframe himself from getting lost in the intoxicating boy’s appearance. A sense of nostalgia hits him like a freight train at the sight of Harry, as if he’s met him before. Harry was leaning over some red velvet cupcakes and decorating them with creamy pink icing and little snowflakes made from fondant, considering Christmas was approaching. Louis mind flashed to a similar pink frosting, a warm morning with a cup of tea and a freshly made cupcake sitting beside his mug. Just as quickly as the image appears in his memory it is torn away.
“This is Louis,” Liam’s voice snapped Louis back to reality abruptly.
Harry smiled brightly at Louis – his dimples prominent on his cheeks, along with some pink icing that was supposed to be adorning the cupcakes. Louis’ eyes widened at the seer adorable look of him. Harry went to extend his hand, but before either could greet one another Harry stumbled a little and almost ran over Louis.
“Oops!” Harry exclaimed as he blushed.
“Hi,” Louis replied with a smirk at the boy’s clumsiness.
“Oh my god Harry,” Liam groaned in embarrassment while Niall giggled in the background. “Sorry, he’s a totally klutz.” Liam sighed with a shake of his head.
“Hey,” Harry pouted as he glared to the manager before turning back to Louis. “Sorry about that. I’m Harry Styles, the owner of this place,” Harry introduced himself and this time was able to shake Louis’ hand.
Louis blushed at their contact before grinning. “Louis Tomlinson. You look really young to own it,” Louis blurted out.
Liam chuckled at that while Harry smiled with a shrug. “I’m twenty going on twenty one. My dad owned it before, gave it to me when I got out of culinary school, this summer actually. He owns another restaurant similar,” Harry explained to Louis.
“He was a bit of a prodigy,” Liam cut in with a pat to Harry’s back. “Started his culinary courses at sixteen. He’s more of a baker to be honest,” Liam teased as he lightly punched Harry’s shoulder.
“And he’s more of an arse,” Harry joked back before grinning to Louis. “It’s nice to meet you. Niall said you’ll be a great employee.”
“I hope so,” Louis laughed lightly. “I really needed this job. I’m glad you chose me.”
Harry nodded with a warm smile. “I suppose I should speak to you a little since we never got to have an actual proper job interview. Nialler is pretty good at picking people, but I should probably be somewhat formal,” he said before picking up a cupcake. “Here, a congratulatory cupcake for being hired.” Harry beamed as he handed Louis the small pastry.
Louis took it with a colour of pink to his cheeks. “Thanks, it means a lot.” More than you will ever know, Louis thought.
“Louis! Hurry up,” Niall whined as Louis scrubbed off a plate.
“Are you seeing this frying pan?” Louis gawked as he held up the soapy mess. It was the lunch rush and both boys were working vigorously to clean the dishes. Louis had been handed a pan that had burn food on it as one of the chiefs forgot it on the burner. At first it looked like just a layer of over cooked food. Louis was oh so wrong. It was caked with some sort of substance at the bottom that was melted to the pan.
Niall cackled at Louis defeated look while Louis scowled. Dunking it back in the scalding water Louis scrubbed at it roughly to get the stuff off it. Giving up on it for the moment he dropped it in the bottom before moving on to a large pot that was only used for soup.
“This is sure high pressure,” Louis commented as he scrubbed out the pot.
“Agreed,” Niall laughed as Louis handed him the pot.
“Is it like this all the time?” he asked as he took another pot that someone tossed his way.
“Only during lunch. Dinner is a little more spaced out because so many people get off at different times. As for lunch... well it is almost always a guaranteed shit show,” Niall explained as he rinsed off the pot.
“Joyous,” Louis said sarcastically and Niall laughed at his attitude.
They continued to work quickly throughout the lunch rush. Louis wasn’t used to the high pressure situation and surely wasn’t used to cleaning this many dishes. It was more than he’d cleaned in the entire past year. He usually was quite the slob and since Zayn wasn’t as great with chores either, dishes piled up quite frequently at their home until one of them – Zayn usually – caved. Louis didn’t want to touch another dish out side of work after this.
Once things began to slow down Louis wiped off his forehead with the back of his hand after taking off his heat protecting gloves. “Pretty crazy,” he chuckled as he flopped the gloves on the sink counter.
“Agreed,” Niall added with a laugh. “It’s pretty easy for the next while, not many people come in after two until about five. I usually sit over here,” – Niall pointed to the spot beside the sink that was invisible to the kitchen staff through the door – “and go on my phone. Liam only has ever caught me once,” Niall beamed proudly as he also removed his gloves.
“They trust you a lot huh?” Louis commented as he sat down beside Niall who had taken up this hiding spot.
“Yeah, well it’s mandatory for Liam to trust me,” Niall said with a shrug as he pulled out his phone.
Louis quirked a brow. “Why’s that?”
Niall looked up from his phone with a raised brow as well. “Uh, did Zayn not tell you or something?”
“Tell me what?” Louis asked in frustration.
“Liam is my boyfriend,” Niall replied simply.
Louis eyes widened at that. He knew that Niall was bisexual but didn’t realize his boyfriend was Liam. He reminded himself to punch Zayn for making him look like an idiot later. Thinking back on it though, Louis did notice how fond Liam seemed of Niall during their short interaction.
“Huh,” Louis hummed. “You guys are a cute couple.”
“When we’re together,” Niall scoffed. Louise raised his brow again. “Lately he’s been hanging out with this Sophia chick. We keep getting into fights,” Niall frowned as he fiddled with his phone. “I feel like a side fling sometimes. Sorry, you probably find my ranting annoying,” Niall blushed at being so forward with a virtual stranger.
“It’s fine,” Louis interjected quickly. “It’s the least I could do.”
“You know, you are not what I expected of a stripper,” Niall teased and Louis socked him gently in the shoulder. Niall just laughed and Louis shook his head with a smirk. “What’s it like to be a stripper?” Niall asked curiously as he slid his phone away.
“It’s… different,” Louis laughed. “I want out honestly. It was okay at the beginning. But Zayn probably told you my… situation.” Louis winced at that. “It’s a way to get out doing this. It might not have been so bad being one if it wasn’t for… you know who.”
Niall nodded. “Zayn told me a bit about him. It’s what convinced me you needed this job.”
Louis chuckled dryly. “He’s a real asshole. If I get out, he’ll leave me alone. But disregarding that; it’s weird. It’s kind of fun with the right mind set. You put on his face, you’re someone no one knows, and you do whatever the hell you want. It’s really intoxicating and a damn workout,” Louis joked and Niall chuckled. “I’ve also been told it’s pretty hot to watch,” Louis continued with a wink.
“I bet,” Niall teased.
Both boys laughed and shook their heads. Louis was glad that Zayn had introduced him to Niall. Things were already beginning to turn up for the blue eyed boy. The two continued to chat aimlessly for the next while, not having dishes being tossed their way. They talked about favorite sports and hobbies. They discussed how they’d met Zayn, Louis through the club while Niall was friends with him in high school. It was easy to talk to Niall and Louis was grateful for that. Niall didn’t pester more about Louis night job, not that it bothered Louis.
At the moment Louis was reiterating a story of when he had accidently locked himself out on the terrace of their apartment. Louis had to call his mum all the way in Doncaster, begging for her to come to London to let him back in his apartment as Zayn was visiting family for the week.
“You actually got locked on your terrace?” Niall cackled as he listened to Louis.
“I almost froze my arse off!” Louis exclaimed. “I don’t even know how I managed it! It was horrid, Zayn made fun of me for weeks on end about it, calling me Tommo the Idiot all around the apartment. He even introduced me as that on stage one time!” Louis wailed and Niall bellowed with laughter.
As the boys continued their conversation and laughter Harry and Liam could hear it from the kitchen. Harry had been in the midst of decorating more cupcakes when he heard the bell like laughter from his spot. He perked up at the noise and saw Liam giving him a look, as Liam was in the back about to drop off a late lunch order.
“Looks like Niall is slacking off,” Harry chuckled as he shook his head.
Liam sighed with a shake of his head as well. “That boy,” he muttered.
Harry smiled softly at his friend’s fond expression. Niall was a trusted friend as was Liam. He’d known Liam growing up and met Niall when they were both sixteen. Harry didn’t go to school with him so he didn’t know who Zayn was but had heard some things about him while growing up. When Niall asked if Zayn and his friends could get jobs as dishwashers Harry had easily obliged as they needed someone to help Niall after their last one quit.
Their new dishwasher, Louis, had surprised Harry. He was gorgeous, a cute fringe, award winning smile, and beautiful cerulean eyes. He was absolutely adorable and Harry was swooned by him and his soft smile. A flicker of recognition resonated in Harry when he first saw the older boy. He wondered if he’d met him before. He’d shaken the memory away and continued on his way. He quite enjoyed the bubbly atmosphere that Louis gave off in the brief encounter with him. It was refreshing, and Harry quite liked it.
“I’ll check on them,” Harry offered as he went to the back. The swinging door had a small window from the middle up and Harry quirked a brow when he didn’t see anyone. But he did hear the familiar laughter so he entered the room.
The boys were too loud with their laughter to hear him, so Harry smirked as he walked inside. He found the two hiding behind the sink laughing with one another. “Slacking are we Nialler?” Harry joked.
Both boys snapped their heads to Harry like dears caught in headlights. Louis scrambled to his feet and blushed. “Sorry,” he apologized and Harry just chuckled.
“He’s just teasing,” Niall assured as he stood up and frowned. “Okay, twice,” he informed Louis which confused Harry.
“Sounds outdated now,” Louis commented and Harry chuckled at their conversation.
“Since we have some spare time, Louis would you mind coming with me for a quick late interview?” Harry requested as he looked at the older lad.
Niall gave Louis a reassuring pat on the back, as to say that it would okay and Harry wasn’t about to chew him out. Louis nodded and followed Harry out towards the dining area. Two tables were occupied while the rest were empty and a quiet hum of some symphony playing through the speakers hidden behind potted plants. The people greeted Harry formally as he passed their tables. Harry was obviously in on the posh crowd. Louis knew the place was high class, he’d heard about it in high review magazines before.
“Take a seat,” Harry offered as he pulled out a chair for Louis. Blushing, Louis sat down and watched the attractive man walk around and sit across from him with a warm smile. “So, why’d you want to get a job here?” Harry asked as he leaned his cheek against his hand.
Louis blinked a couple of times, his mind focused on Harry’s lips. Fighting a blush he replied, “Uh, well I was job hunting and Niall told my friend and I about the place. I needed a steady income because things haven’t been too great recently. I didn’t necessarily look out for the place specifically,” Louis admitted.
Harry nodded, satisfied. “How long do you plan to work here?” Harry asked as he looked Louis up and down.
“At least a year,” Louis replied hopefully. He needed at least six months but he’d like to work a little longer afterwards. This job didn’t seem too bad, and definitely had its benefits.
Harry smiled at Louis answer. “Sounds good to me. I want a steady employee, our last one quit after about a month,” Harry frowned. “I’d hope you’ll stay then. I think it’s pretty nice here. If you have any concerns you can always come to me,” Harry added. Louis nodded with a relieved smile. “Now, what was your last job? Niall never told me,” Harry said with a frown.
Louis immediately stiffened and Harry noticed. “I uh…” Louis fumbled with his words and Harry looked at him in concern.
“You okay Louis?” Harry questioned with concern at the boys slightly pale face.
“My last job… I’m still doing it part time. I’m quitting soon as well. It’s not something I like to talk about,” Louis lied. He didn’t mind talking about it that much so long as no one was judging him for it. He did fear though that Harry would fire him on the spot. His night job was frowned on a lot, and Louis knew if anyone found out they’d jump to all sorts of conclusions. Louis wasn’t a prostitute, a lot jumped to that thought when they heard about him being a stripper. Louis mind did flash to a certain night when he was nineteen but he shook his head to rid himself of the thought.
Harry frowned at Louis answer. “Was it illegal?”
“No!” Louis exclaimed quickly with a blush. “No, it isn’t illegal! I promise,” Louis assured quickly.
Harry was surprised by the smaller man’s outburst. He noted it and made a mental note to pry the answer out of Niall. He was quite curious about the blue eyed boy sitting across from him. He was stunningly attractive, pink thin lips and bubbly blue eyes. He was quite a bit smaller than Harry and looked innocent under Harry’s gaze. He had a humours atmosphere to him with a slightly sassy way to his words from when he’d heard him talking to Niall. He had a brilliant smile and was quite kind from what Harry had gathered. Harry felt his cheeks colour as he realized Louis was exactly his type.
Harry hummed before continuing. “What are some of your hobbies?”
Louis pursed his lips as he thought. “What kind of hobbies?”
“Anything,” Harry shrugged. “You could gush about shopping if you want,” he joked with a light smirk.
Louis rolled his eyes fondly before speaking. “I guess I enjoy skateboarding, football, singing, that sort of thing.”
Harry perked up at the last one. “You sing?”
Louis blushed and shrugged. “Sometimes. M’not very good.”
Harry frowned at Louis answer. “I’m sure you’re marvelous.”
Louis blushed harder and fiddled with his fingers. “What else do you want to know?”
Harry thought for a moment before looking Louis over. The boy still looked off put from Harry’s previous question about his previous occupation and Harry didn’t want to pry. He had a soft spot for the boy he’d just met, and he wasn’t sure quite why. Dismissing his thoughts Harry spoke, “That’ll be good for now. I look forward to working with you Louis.”
Louis looked up and beamed at Harry as Harry extended his hand again. “Me too,” he agreed before firmly shaking Harry’s warm large hand.
“How’d it go Lou?” Zayn’s voice greeted him as Louis entered their flat. The living room light was on so Louis knew Zayn was probably scarfing down some Chinese from the smell that filled his senses. They both had work in a little over an hour.
Louis kicked off his shoes and padded into the flat. Zayn’s door was open down the hall and Louis saw a mess of paint and a canvas alongside a few cans of spray paint layed across a plastic cover. “You better have used the spray outside!” Louis replied instead as he emerged from the hall to find Zayn, sure enough, eating from a takeout box.
“Duh,” Zayn replied with a smirk while Louis rolled his eyes and swiped the second box from the counter.
Their apartment was a small two bedroom six floors up. They didn’t have an amazing view, as it was obstructed by the building beside them, and it wasn’t in the best part of London. It wasn’t in an extremely bad location but it could be better. Their living room and kitchen were conjoined, with a small step up to the kitchen and a dip in the floor for the living room. They had two worn brown couches with a nice abstract rug and a coffee table. A small television was stationed against the wall with an assortment of random kinder egg surprise toys decorating the top. There were a lot of random knickknacks they had collected over the years that decorated the surrounding area. Their kitchen was relatively clean, excluding the growing mass of dishes. It had brown cupboards with cheap white marble knock off material for the counter tops.
“Work of pretty good,” Louis nodded as he sat down beside his best mate. He snuggled into his side and Zayn wrapped an arm around him. “Niall is hilarious,” Louis commented. Zayn chuckled at that. “Harry’s really nice,” Louis continued and Zayn smirked at that.
“You should really fond Lou,” Zayn teased and Louis blushed. “Does Lou got a crush on his boss?” Zayn cooed in a baby voice and Louis banged his head lightly against Zayn’s chin.
“Shut up you dolt,” Louis laughed. “He’s attractive and has a cute personality. Now, back to my job,” Louis said. “It’s high pressure and a bit hard but nothing too bad. I like it, and Harry gave me a two cupcakes. One for my congratulatory and one for you,” Louis explained as he pulled out the tupperware container.
Zayn’s face lit up at the treat as Louis opened the top. “Wow, they look amazing!”
Louis hummed in agreement. Discarding their dinner they both took their red velvet cupcakes out of the container. The wrapping was just a simple black cupcake cup, but that was to place more emphasis on the icing. The icing was a rosy pink colour, swirling up in a perfect spiral to the top where it dipped over into an arch. The little snowflake fondant cute outs were hand done, not by a cookie cutter. They were each hand crafted small little things, each one different in a way. Louis was in awe at Harry’s craftsmanship.
“They taste orgasmic,” Zayn chuckled as he took a bite.
Louis took a bite as well and moaned at how sugary and sweet it tasted. Once again that familiar nostalgia ran through Louis. He was surprised at the memory as it had been years since the incident when he was nineteen. Shaking it off again Louis finished his pastry before moving back to his Chinese food.
The two boys ate and joked about with Louis cuddled into Zayn’s side. Some people may get the wrong idea of them, but it was completely platonic. Now if they had been touching each other’s knees and always leaning on each other it would be another thing, but Louis just gravitated to Zayn when it was something simple like this. Zayn had been Louis’ security blanket since they’d met and Louis was thrown into a world he’d never experienced before.
“We’d outta head out,” Zayn sighed as he took their containers and tossed them in the bin.
Louis pouted. “I’m too tired!”
“Louis,” Zayn said in warning.
Pouting still, Louis got up and followed Zayn out of the apartment. Time to go from Dishwasher Lou to Tommo the Tease.