Sorry it took so long to update. I am made of fail. orz
Pairings: France/England, Sweden/Finland
"What is it this time?" Arthur sighed as he sat down in the chair across the desk from the principal.
"Same old, same old," she sighed, "Fighting with Ivan Braginski."
"Mr. Kirkland," the principal leaned forward, resting her head in her hands as she stared him down, "I've talked to your husband about this in the past, but this problem still hasn't gone away."
"Alfred is a bit…defensive, I suppose…"
"He pushed Ivan during recess. Alfred initiated it this time."
"I'm sure that Russian brat deserved it…"
"Mr. Kirkland!" the principal exclaimed, "We do not tolerate fighting in school! Ivan's father has already been called, but disciplinary measures must be taken."
"You're not going to suspend him are you? He's only six, he doesn't know any better!"
"Maybe you should teach him that, Mr. Kirkland."
Arthur sighed and put a hand to his face. "Ms. Karpusi, I don't know if you have kids, but-"
"I happen to have a son, Mr. Kirkland. He doesn't get into fights."
Arthur fidgeted as the principal took on a more pitying look. "You're young, and I know parenting is hard, but please talk to your son about his fighting. It may just be schoolyard tussles with Ivan now, but trust me when I say it could grow into something much worse. I've seen it happen before, and Alfred is a good kid. I'd hate for him to go down a bad path."
"Right…I'll talk to him," he said as he stood up.
"Please do. No disciplinary action will be taken this time, but Ivan's father has already taken him home to cool off. Perhaps you should do the same with Alfred?"
And so, Arthur found himself eating ice cream with his son on a Wednesday afternoon.
"Alfred, why did you push Ivan?"
"'Cause he was bugging Feli," Alfred answered between licks.
"Are you sure they weren't just talking?"
"Yes! He started pokin' and playin' with his curl and you know how he hates that so I tried to distract him."
"By pushing him?"
"It worked didn' it?"
"I guess…but next time, please try something less violent."
"…Fine…" he pouted.
Arthur smiled at his son and ruffled his hair as his cell rang.
"Arthur Kirkland?" a hurried voice on the other end asked.
"Yes, how may I help you?"
"This is Dr. Simmons from St. Mercy Hospital. George and Elizabeth Kirkland were admitted earlier today and you were listed as their next of kin."
"Y-yes, I'm their son," even if he hadn't spoken to his mother in over two years and his father since… "What happened?"
"Mr. Kirkland, your parents were in a car accident this morning and are currently in critical condition."
What? That couldn't be right…his parents were the safest drivers on the planet. They would crash like that…especially not if Peter was with them. Oh god Peter!
"Your brother Peter is currently under the care of a Mr. Roderich Edelstein. Actually, Mr. Edelstein was the one who gave us your phone number, since it's not in your parent's file anywhere."
"S-so…are they both there?"
"…Yes, they're here. Peter wasn't in the car at the time, so he is perfectly unharmed."
Thank god for that. "What hospital did you say it was?"
"St. Mercy Hospital. Do you know where that is, Mr. Kirkland?"
"Y-yes, I know," he had broken his arm once when he was ten, and again when he was eleven. That was the only hospital in his hometown, "Th-thank you," Arthur hung up without another word.
"Dad?" Alfred asked, "Is everything okay?"
"Al, we're going on a little trip…"
Francis glanced back up at the clock. 8 PM, and still no word from Arthur. Normally this wouldn't be too much cause for concern except that Alfred was missing as well. He sat in the living room trying to figure out what exactly it was that he did to make his husband take Alfred away again.
When the phone rang, bringing him out of his train of thought, Francis was startled for all five seconds before he pounced on it.
"Hullo, Francis, it's Arthur," Arthur replied unnecessarily, as Francis could recognize his voice anywhere, "Sorry I haven't called…"
"That's quite alright mon cher. Where are you?"
On Francis's list of Worst Possible Answers to That Question, that one ranked second just before 'Your Ex's Place' and just under 'The Twilight Zone.' "What? Are you - is Alfred - what happened?"
"No, we're quite alright…thanks for asking…"
"Mon cher, you seem out of it. What happened?"
"…My parents died."
Oh, well…Francis never actually got along with Arthur's parents. They saw him merely as one of Gilbert's hooligan friends and they never forgave him for running off with their son. Still, his own parents had died when he was nine, and he knew that pain never really went away. "I'm sorry, Arthur. Do you need me to come down there?"
"No…I'm just…Alfred and I are going to stay with Roderich until the funeral, so…"
"I understand. Don't hesitate to call me if you need anything, alright?"
"Yes…I won't. Give the children my love."
"Of course. Do you know when you're coming home?"
"…The funeral's going to be next Monday. Probably Tuesday sometime."
"Then I will see you then?"
"Yes, of course. See you then. Love you."
Arthur actually admitted that? Without Francis bugging him or any alcohol in his system? He must really have been out of it. "I love you too. Tell Alfred that too. And Arthur,"
"Yes?" he sounded scared and unsure over the phone and Francis wanted nothing more than to take him into his arms and make all the bad thoughts he was sure to be having go away. But he was here, and Arthur was there.
"Everything is going to be alright, you know that right?"
"I know…just…I'll call you tomorrow." And with that, he hung up.
Roderich and Vash volunteered to help Arthur with the funeral preparations, as he was still not all there during the next few days. In fact, Arthur spent most of the days leading up to the funeral with Peter and Alfred, but his cousins didn't mind.
After the funeral, family members and other people Arthur never thought he'd see again gave him, Peter, and Alfred their condolences. Arthur hid his sadness behind a mask and thanked them, even those who were insincere. Alfred, brave lad, still didn't quite know what was going on, but put a smile on his face, acted like the perfect little gentleman that his dad tried to make him, and tried everything in his power to cheer Peter up. The youngest Kirkland, however, was having none of that, refusing to even make eye contact with anyone throughout the day. He had warmed up to Arthur and Alfred after he found out Arthur was his brother, but on the day of the funeral he became cold and distant to both of them.
The next day George and Elizabeth's lawyer gathered everyone together to figure out what to do with Peter.
"I guess there's no real choice," Arthur's Uncle William sighed, "We'll have to take the brat."
"Dad," Clara snapped, "you don't have room in your new house for a child!"
"What you want him?"
"Of course not! I'm still too young and a free spirit to take care of child."
"My mother's fallen ill again," Vash stated, "Peter can stay with us for a little, but we can't give him permanent residence."
"Well, we would take care of him," Arthur's Uncle Edward, "but we just got rid of ours. Speaking of, Roderich, you're living alone. Surely you can take care of him?"
"I would, but Elizaveta and I were talking about moving in together. I don't think we're ready for kids just yet."
"Arthur should take him in," Gilbert's father suggested, "he's the closest living relative the boy has left."
"Yeah," Rupert sighed, "plus he has like twelve kids already. Adding one more shouldn't be a problem."
"Arthur?" Rupert's mother, Alice, screeched, "That little punk couldn't raise a well adjusted child in his household!"
"Sitting right here Auntie," Arthur stated, "and my children are doing quite well, thanks for asking."
"I'm sure they are considering their…circumstances…"
"And those would be?"
"Well, I don't know," Roderich's mother, Allison, said, "maybe the fact their stuck with a failure like you as one parent and filth like Francis Bonnefoy as the other."
Arthur gripped the arm of his chair until his knuckles turned white, "There is nothing wrong with my household. There most certainly isn't anything wrong with Francis or me, and if you dare say there is anything wrong with my children…"
"Oh nothing's wrong with your children Arthur dear, if you consider crack babies and children who are more beastlike then human normal."
"Don't forget that illegitimate one!" Aunt Alice cackled, "And Arthur isn't it true you just bought another one for an even more incompetent parent than you?" Both Aunts joined in the cackling.
"I didn't buy him you gossiping wenches!" Arthur snarled, "And you only wish you were half the parent Yao is!"
"Of course you would think that you sinful boy! You married Francis of all people!"
"How could you not know that boy was trouble? He hung out with Gilbert of all people…"
"Do you have an issue there with my son?" Gilbert's father growled, "If so, I suggest you take it up with me."
"Oh come now," she waved, "it's not your fault he's a complete failure. Everyone has a bad seed, but at least you have Ludwig now."
"I wouldn't talk if I were you, considering everyone knows what your son gets up to."
"W-what are you insinuating?"
"Mom, I'm a pothead," Rupert sighed, "get over it."
"Why I never…"
"This is why I hate family get-togethers," Vash sighed as the two aunts turned on each other.
"E-excuse me…" the lawyer finally spoke up, "I have the late Mr. and Mrs. Kirkland's wills right here."
"Moron," Roderich reprimanded, "why didn't you speak up sooner?"
"Sorry, but well…"
"Out with it! Who gets what?" Edward screeched.
"W-well, it seems Mrs. Kirkland made a will separate from Mr. Kirkland…"
"I don't see the problem there," William scoffed, "my sister wouldn't have differed too much from what her husband wanted, I'm sure."
"And she didn't really, except, well…"
"Out with it man!" Vash exclaimed, "Just say what you want to say!"
"Mr. Kirkland has left everything in his estate to his nephew, Roderich Edelstein," Roderich's parents looked peeved that they were passed over for their son, but let it slide, "however, Mrs. Kirkland has left most of her estate to, uh…"
"Not Roderich?" Gilbert's father guessed.
"Of course, Roderich is far too young to handle everything they had," William stated, "We'll probably end up taking care of the other half."
"Actually, Mrs. Kirkland left everything she owned to her son, Arthur Kirkland."
"What?" the aunts and uncles screeched.
"After he ran out on her and broke her poor little heart?"
"He hasn't contacted them in years, what was she thinking?"
"Clearly she wasn't in her right mind!"
"You know," a different voice spoke up from the back of the room, "I think you're missing the point of the whole thing. You know that whole what to do with Peter thing?"
"No one asked you Oxenstierna!" Aunt Alice hissed, "Why are you even here anyway?"
Mathias just grinned, "The lawyer invited us, and why shouldn't we be here? We're family!" Berwald nodded in agreement.
"Mathias has a point," Vash stated, "Who's getting custody of Peter?"
"Roderich already said he couldn't take him," Gilbert's father said, "So that leaves Arthur."
"A-actually…" the lawyer spoke up again.
"You again!" Vash slammed his hands on the table, "Why can't you just say what you mean right at the beginning!"
"Vash calm down and let the man talk," Roderich sighed.
"Yes, well…Mr. Kirkland made it very clear in his will that Arthur wasn't to get anything of his."
"So that means he only gets everything solely owned by his mom?" Mathias chuckled, "Tough break there Artie."
"Piss off Mathias."
"So if neither Arthur nor Roderich can take Peter," Alice sighed, "I guess…"
"I'll take 'im," Berwald stated.
"Y-you!" she sneered, "Why would you take him?"
"He's got nowhere else to go right?" the tall man shrugged, "'N he's family. He should stay with the family that'll take care of him. Plus the wife 'n I were thinking about getting a kid soon anyway."
"Dude," his cousin interrupted, "Does Tino know you still call him your wife?"
"This is preposterous!" Uncle Edward exclaimed, "You!" he pointed at the lawyer, "You can't just send Peter off to live with…Oxenstiernas!"
"W-well, Mr. Oxenstierna is perfectly qualified to take care of Peter…"
"You can't be serious!" Aunt Allison screeched.
"And based on what I've seen today, well, he's probably the only one in the room I'd trust with the boy."
"Peter needs to stay with family!" Aunt Alice screamed, "You can't just send him off with…them."
"Berwald Oxenstierna is family," the lawyer explained, "We've already talked it over with child services, and well…"
"So," Arthur glared, "You already made your choice before this meeting, haven't you?"
"Yes, my decision on this matter is final, and the courts will back me up on that: Berwald Oxenstierna will gain full guardianship over Peter Kirkland."
"No!" Peter shouted as he clung to Arthur's leg, "I don't wanna go!"
"I'm sorry Peter," he crouched down to his brother's eye level. His brother that he only found out about a few years ago, and who he was only just starting to get to know, "I…I know you'd rather stay with Alfred and me, but Berwald can-"
"No!" he shouted even louder than before, "I don't wanna go! I wanna stay!"
"Dad," Arthur looked over at Alfred, who was looking at him with those blue eyes of his, "Why can't Peter come with us?"
"Because…" he bit his lip as he thought of the right words to explain the situation, "there are some battles that just aren't worth fighting."
Peter suddenly stopped struggling and screaming, "I'm…not worth fighting for?"
"No! Not at all!" Arthur quickly tried to correct his mistake, "It's more like, you'll be better off with Berwald than with me."
"But…" Peter buried his face into Arthur's chest, "but you have my eyebrows…"
Arthur wrapped his arms tightly around him in a hug, "I'm sorry Peter. I know this is hard for you and you've been handling it brilliantly, you've been so strong, but you need to be strong for a little while longer okay?"
Peter clung to his jacket even tighter, "But…"
"It'll be fine," Berwald said as he crouched down behind Peter, who turned in Arthur's arms to face him, "You can come stay with me and my wife for a little, and you can visit your brother whenever you want."
Peter sniffled before shyly asking, "When…whenever I want?"
Berwald nodded in response. Arthur slowly lowered his arms as Peter walked over and took his and instead and both adults stood up.
"That goes for you too," Berwald said to Arthur, "M'sure Tino and the others won't mind if you visit."
"That's…" Although they were cousins, Arthur did not know Berwald very well. The Oxenstiernas and the Beilschmidts had a falling out well before either of them was born, and as such the two sides of the family never got together. When they were forced to meet in situations such as this, there was always fighting and more than one trip to the hospital/local police station. But with Peter, who was more or less a Beilschimdt, being raised by the Oxenstiernas, perhaps this was the chance the family needed to finally patch things up.
At the very least, the rest of Arthur's family wanted nothing to do with him, so why not make amends with the other side?
"Yes, of course. I'd be glad to."
With a curt nod and a small smile, Berwald and Peter left.
"Dad?" Alfred asked on the drive home.
"Yes?" Arthur had been surprised how quiet and well behaved Alfred had been throughout the whole ordeal. If he didn't know any better, he would have sworn he'd picked up Matthew at school that day by mistake again.
"Peter couldn't come stay with us, right?"
"He's your uncle Alfred; you should address him as such. It's only proper."
"But he's younger than me…"
"Well, Uncle Peter couldn't live with us…because of me right?"
Arthur looked over to see him fiddling with his hands and looking out the window, "What makes you say that?"
"You and Papa hafta take care of me and Matt and Jake and Angie and Hong already, and I'm always gettin' into fights and gettin' the others in trouble and stuff. If I wasn't around then you could take care of Peter instead…and he's your real brother, so it woulda been better…"
True, if he and Francis didn't already have the responsibility of five other children, that lawyer may have granted him guardianship over Peter. Even so…
Arthur pulled the car over to the side of the road to give Alfred his full attention and waited until blue eyes met green before speaking, "Alfred Kirkland-Bonnefoy, no matter what anyone ever says to you or if they try to tell you different, know this: You are my son, and I wouldn't trade you or Matthew or Jake or Angelique or Hong away for anyone or anything in the whole world."
Alfred smiled and crawled out of his seatbelt so he could hug Arthur, "I…I wouldn't trade you or Papa either," he said in his shoulder, "Not even for my real parents."
"I'm, uh…" Arthur awkwardly returned the gesture, "I'm glad."
"Can we go home now? I wanna eat Papa's cooking again," Alfred said as he slipped out of his father's hold and back into his seat.
"Oh is that how it is," Arthur smiled as he got back on the road, "I guess if you're so eager to go home and eat frogs, we won't stop by McDonalds then."
"No no! I wanna stop I wanna stop!"
"That's what I thought." Even if his son had somehow developed a taste for French food and greasy burgers, Arthur still wouldn't trade him for all the blood relatives in the world.
A/N: A few people asked me after the Mother's Day special how Peter went from his mother to the Nordics. Well now you know.
The Aunts and Uncles are really only there to be annoying, so I made up most of their names on the spot. The only name of real noteworthyness is Rupert(Netherlands) and Clara(Belgium)'s father, William. As in William of Orange.