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Fan Fic / Stitching Hearts

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Maybe, you're gonna be the one that saves me...

A loosely-based Hetalia: Axis Powers AU found here. Very readable for those who've never seen Hetalia.

Arthur Kirkland is a cynical, snarky, jaded doctor living in New York City, who's entirely content with his secluded lifestyle. That is, until he finds himself unwillingly treating a pair of seven-year-old orphans in the emergency room one Christmas, and in a sudden bout of sentimentality, takes them home. The fic follows the little patchwork family as Arthur guides the boys through the ins and outs of life, and in the process, finds that there are more wounds to be healed than just the physical ones.


It follows the twins through the entirety of their adventure with Arthur.

This story contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Arthur finds the boys after they run away from one of these.
  • Adorably Precocious Child: Alfred, combined with Heartwarming Orphan for maximum effect.
  • Adult Fear: Barrels of it, especially nearing the end. The entire idea that Alfred and Matthew were wandering the streets on their own is enough, especially when combined with the fact that Matthew was in a state of medical emergency.
    • Perhaps the most poignant of these comes later in the story, as an older Arthur is succumbing to his poor health and must come to terms with the fact that he'll no longer be able to be there for his boys.
  • Afraid of Doctors: Alfred, with one notable exception. And later, two - he becomes one himself.
  • A Friend in Need: This seems to be why Arthur takes the kids on, and keeps standing by them.
  • After-Action Healing Drama: After a teenage Alfred gets punched in the face at a party, Francis tends to his nose while they have a much-needed heart-to-heart. Arthur follows up with a much more needed heart-to-heart (and wound drainage).
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  • All of the Other Reindeer: The kids at school are less-than-accepting when Matthew first arrives, and shortly afterward they turn on Alfred too.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Matthew when Arthur first adopts him, which is terrifying. He grows out of it.
  • Anger Born of Worry: Arthur toward a teenage Alfred. Alfred eventually comes to understand it.
  • The Anti-Nihilist: Arthur seems to have shades of this. Later, Alfred does too.
  • Arc Words: Ten minutes.
    • "Wonderwall" is something of an Arc Song.
  • Artistic Licence Medicine: Largely averted, as the author comes from a family of doctors and seems to actually know what she's talking about.
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: A child Alfred breaks a promise to Matthew on the playground - the promise that he wouldn't take revenge on Matthew's bullies - and as a result, becomes distant from his brother and casts doubt all over his delicate relationship with Arthur.
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  • Awkward Father-Son Bonding Activity: Several, especially toward the beginning as Arthur attempts to gain the boys' trust.
  • Babies Ever After: Both of the twins in the epilogue.
  • Berserk Button: Despite their bickering, Alfred gets very upset when his biological dad rips on Arthur.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Younger Alfred has a lot of this for Matthew, though it wanes over time.
  • Big Sleep: Arthur goes out this way.
  • Bittersweet Ending: And how; he saves the boys' shattered lives first, but Arthur dies.
  • Break the Cutie: Alfred and Matthew go through this via Backstory. Later, both go through it again as a result of Arthur's untimely death.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: This is how Arthur thinks of teen Alfred, though he grows to have a better understanding of him eventually.
  • Broken Bird: Both Matthew and Alfred, in a clear deconstruction of the Heartwarming Orphan archetype; Arthur takes them in, but then discovers just how much he's going to have to deal with.
  • Broken Tears: Alfred is very alarmed that his words of condolence about Arthur's sickness make Arthur cry. Arthur tries to explain that he's just upset that he can't be strong for his kids anymore, though the poor old man tries damn hard.
  • Brutal Honesty: Arthur, more often than not.
  • Bumbling Dad: Arthur starts out as one of these.
  • Bystander Syndrome: Discussed; Alfred brings up the fact that Arthur could easily have left them to other hands if he'd wanted to.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Alfred does this as a teenager; when he meets his biological dad again, he basically tells him that Arthur is ten times the father figure he could be, because Arthur "knows how to be there when it counts".
  • Call to Adventure: Being called to treat the twins is this for Arthur.
  • The Cameo: Gilbert Beilschmidt makes a short appearance as an X-Ray technician at the hospital.
  • Child Hater: Arthur starts out as one of these, though he changes his tune pretty fast.
  • Children Are Innocent: One of the story's major themes, it would seem.
  • Children Raise You: As to be expected, Arthur goes through a lot of this.
  • Cry into Chest: Alfred does this to Arthur, as he comes to a Heel Realization at the end of his teen arc. Later, their roles are reversed - see Broken Tears.
  • Cryptic Conversation: Francis and Arthur have one of these when Francis decides he can't help with the kids after all.
  • The Cynic: Arthur starts out as one, though learns otherwise when a certain pair of twins crash into his life.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: The twins.
  • Darkest Hour: A few moments could count, but most especially Arthur's death at the end.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Arthur, even to small orphaned children.
  • Death by Newbery Medal: Arthur's death has this feel to it - the end of innocence, the important friend dying - though it's a strange case in that Arthur was a parental figure.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Both of the boys absolutely adored their dead mother. They also seem to gain a new appreciation for Arthur while watching him die.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: Somewhat Downplayed, but a lot of the twins' childhood reads as a deconstruction of the Defrosting-Ice-King-adopts-Heartwarming-Orphans plot, considering all the difficulties that result; however, at the end of it all, the twins know that Arthur saved them, and finally understand that they saved him too.
  • Defrosting Ice King: Arthur, very quickly after meeting the kids.
  • Demoted to Extra: Francis, who seems like a really important character early on, suddenly drops out of the story and makes only sporadic appearances after that.
  • Department of Child Disservices: Averted; the child services employees are moved by Arthur's kindness and do their best to help him give the twins a loving home.
  • Desperately Craves Affection: Both of the boys in their childhood, especially Alfred.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Not that he'd admit it, but Arthur was doing this before the twins came around and handed him one.
  • Determinator: Arthur was hell-bent on helping those kids to the very best of his ability.
  • Doctor's Orders: Obviously a fan of this, given the premise; Arthur is fond of issuing these to Alfred.
  • Don't Split Us Up: Seems to be one of the things frightening Alfred and Matthew near the story's beginning, though Arthur quickly alleviates this fear.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Arthur, as his illness slowly kills him.
  • Doting Parent: Arthur to both of the boys, though this wanes a bit toward teenage Alfred (it gets better), and he can't do it much anymore as his health goes down the toilet.
  • Dr. Jerk: Dr. Arthur Kirkland starts out like one of these, though he's quickly revealed to be a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, and the "gold" part is ever-increasing.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: The twins' father.
  • Dumbass Teenage Son: Alfred, during his teen years. He gets over it.
  • The Dutiful Son: Oddly enough, considering the source material, Alfred winds up as this in the long run.
  • Dysfunction Junction: The Kirkland household, though it's Justified.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending
  • Embarrassing Old Photo: Subverted; Arthur takes several of photos throughout the story that the boys assume will become these, but they are actually rather glad to have the pictures later on.
  • Emotionally Tongue-Tied: Alfred, and Matthew to a lesser degree. Alfred comes to regret this after Arthur is gone.
  • Empty Nest: Arthur starts to fear this as the boys graduate high school. Alfred stays at home with him, though.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Arthur does this.
  • Family of Choice: In the long run, Arthur, Alfred, and Matthew are this.
  • Fair Weather Friend: Rather darkly, the twins' biological father.
  • Fish out of Water: Matthew feels like one of these when he starts school.
  • Foreshadowing: Actually quite a bit. Early on, when Matthew asks Arthur what happened to his family, he explains that his mother died of coronary heart disease, which is genetic. Three guesses what kills him.
    • Also early in the story, Arthur is treating an elderly patient who's obviously not salvageable, but desperately fights to save the man anyway, and wonders to himself if he's doing the right thing by prolonging a losing battle. Later, when Arthur is an old man whose condition is obviously not salvageable, he requests not to be given medical attention.
    • Perhaps the nastiest example of this, when little Alfred catches Arthur singing:
    Alfred: Why'd you stop?
    Arthur: Because you nearly gave me a heart attack, you little nipper.
  • Forgiven, but Not Forgotten: The boys toward their previously abusive dad, after reaching out to him as Arthur dies.
  • Good Parents: Arthur.
  • Grumpy Bear: Also Arthur.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Arthur becomes one of these eventually, though he doesn't get to be one very long.
  • Happily Adopted: Though they have their ups and downs, the twins are ultimately this.
  • Hates Being Alone: Both of the boys go through phases of this.
  • The Heart: Both Arthur and Alfred, in their own ways.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: Matthew and Alfred, of course.
  • Heel Realization: Alfred has one of these at the end of the 'teenage' arc, where he suddenly realizes what an Ungrateful Bastard he's been to Arthur, and apologizes.
  • The Hero Dies: Arthur dies.
  • Heroic BSoD: Alfred, after Arthur dies.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: Arthur is plenty guilty of this. Later, after Arthur's death, Alfred laments that he didn't do more to return the kindness Arthur showed him.
  • Honor Before Reason: Arthur comes charging into Child Services looking for the twins because they were discharged by another doctor before he said goodbye. When he needs an excuse for seeing them, he blurts that he wants to adopt them.
  • Hope Spot: After Arthur's first heart attack, it sounds like he'll be all right. But there's more to come...
  • I Can't Do This by Myself: Arthur questions whether he can raise the boys at all. At first, Francis is there, though ultimately Arthur does do it almost entirely on his own.
    • Another, cuter example: teenage Alfred, after his Heel Realization, admits to Arthur that he's been smoking, because he can't quit and knows Arthur will help him.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Both of the boys as young children, but Matthew in particular.
  • I Miss Mom: Both kids often, but especially Matthew as a young child.
  • Immigrant Parents: Arthur is from England.
  • Ineffectual Loner: Later on, Alfred.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: Also Alfred.
  • Insufferable Genius: Arthur, often; Matthew seems to get this from him.
  • In Vino Veritas: The one and only time Alfred gets drunk in the story, he tells Arthur outright that he knows he's the favorite twin.
  • I Want Grandkids: Arthur brings this up to Alfred a few times, mostly jokingly.
  • I Work Alone: Arthur often has to be reminded that it's all right to accept help sometimes.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Arthur, with emphasis on the 'heart of gold'.
  • Kids Are Cruel: During the twins' elementary-school-age chapters, many of their classmates don't understand Matthew's Ambiguous Disorder tendencies and are less-than-nice to him.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Arthur to a tee.
  • Let Them Die Happy: Why Alfred lets Arthur refuse medical attention - he wants Arthur to die on his own terms.
  • Life Will Kill You: Arthur has a sudden heart attack, develops coronary heart disease, and dies of complications, all rather too suddenly.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Arthur often comments on how much Alfred reminds him of himself (which actually worries him, considering his own isolation - he doesn't want Alfred to wind up alone). Later, after Arthur dies, Alfred bears a closer resemblance to his biological father in his inability to let go.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Arthur seems to eventually become this to Alfred, which worries the doctor to no end.
  • Married to the Job: Seems to be why Arthur had no family of his own. Later, as he's slowly dying and has to leave work, Alfred mentions that he loves being a doctor as passionately as anything.
  • Meaningful Echo: A couple. Towards the beginning, Arthur gets Alfred to allow him to give him a shot by promising a lollipop afterward; towards the end, the day after Arthur's death, a now-adult Dr. Alfred gets a little girl to accept a shot using the same strategy. May also count as Book-Ends, considering one occurs when Alfred first opens up to Arthur, and the other occurs when he has to let him go.
    • When he first gets custody of the boys, Arthur harps to Francis that the boys are his "obligation and responsibility", and much later, as an adult, Matthew comments on his own "obligations and responsibilities."
  • Meaningful Funeral: There's one of these for Arthur in the last proper chapter.
  • Meaningful Rename: Averted, surprisingly; Alfred is quite perturbed when he finds out that Arthur didn't change their last name to match his. Later, he realizes it was because Arthur hoped he'd eventually reconnect with his old family.
  • Meddling Parents: Arthur during the 'teenage' chapters. Alfred eventually learns to appreciate it.
  • The Medic: Arthur, obviously.
  • Medicine Show: Has some of this feel to it.
  • Moment of Weakness: Arthur has one of these when he realizes he's going to die, and abandon his children. See Broken Tears.
  • Mouthy Kid: Alfred, as a little one.
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: This is why Arthur initially chases the boys down at Child Services, leading to their adoption.
  • Not Afraid to Die: Arthur, at the end of it all.
  • Nurture over Nature: Both of the boys have a much closer bond (and much closer personalities) to Arthur than their biological parents.
  • Overprotective Dad: Arthur to the twins. Again, this is something they eventually come to appreciate.
  • Panicky Expectant Father: Arthur, going into the adoption process.
  • Papa Wolf: Arthur absolutely.
  • Parental Abandonment: This is how the twins wind up in Arthur's hands.
  • Parental Favoritism: Despite his best efforts, both Alfred and Matthew seem to notice that Arthur prefers Alfred.
  • Parental Substitute: Depending on interpretation, Arthur is either this to the boys, or he's their actual dad and their biological father becomes this following Arthur's death.
  • Parents as People: Seemingly a major point of the story.
  • Parents Know Their Children: Alfred's biological dad manages to recognize him at seventeen, despite not having seen the boy for a decade.
  • Please Don't Leave Me: The twins toward Arthur at the beginning; he doesn't. Later, an adult Alfred pleads this same thing to the dying Arthur. He can't comply.
  • The Power of Love: A Downplayed, non-supernatural version of this seems to be the story's driving force.
  • Promotion to Parent: Arthur, almost as soon as he meets the twins.
  • The Quiet One: Matthew, unsurprisingly.
  • Reality Ensues: The story doesn't stop when the coldhearted Arthur adopts the Heartwarming Orphans; now he has to actually maneuver two damaged children through real life, despite being nearly a stranger at first.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Arthur becomes one of these for the boys. Particularly notable was the time Alfred came clean about smoking cigarettes, and Arthur responded by calmly chastising him and agreeing to help him quit.
  • Rebellious Spirit: Alfred, especially in his teen years, again unsurprisingly.
  • Rousseau Was Right: In the long run.
  • School Newspaper News Hound: Matthew, in high school.
  • Selective Obliviousness: It takes far too long for Alfred to understand that Arthur will not recover from his illness.
  • Shipper on Deck: Both Alfred and Arthur for Matthew and his college girlfriend Emma.
  • Songs of Solace: "Wonderwall"
    There are many things that I'd like to say to you, but I don't know how/Maybe, you're gonna be the one that saves me...
  • So Proud of You: Arthur makes sure the boys know this. Especially toward Alfred at the end of the line.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Arthur, as often as not, though the boys quickly learn to decipher this.
  • Super Doc: Arthur seems to be a Downplayed version of this; Alfred lampshades at one point how Arthur seems to know exactly what to do with every medical situation.
  • Teens Are Monsters: By far Alfred's worst years are his teens, though he never quite reaches a monster.
  • Title Drop: An immensely Tear Jerker one at Arthur's funeral.
    Alfred: (toward Arthur) Thank you for stitching up the tears in the hearts of everyone around you, and I'm sorry that I couldn't return the favor and do the same for you.
    Matthew: That was beautiful. You were amazing... And Alfred? You were wrong.
    Alfred: Wrong about what?
    Matthew: You did stitch up the tears in Arthur's heart... Stupid Alfred, you were all wrong. The way I see it, you saved him.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Arthur.
  • Too Happy to Live: Arthur, after finally discovering that he did right raising his boys.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Arthur, once the kids are in his care. He's outright saintly by the time they're adults.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Matthew carries Kumajirou, a teddy bear from his mother. After realizing he's not going to make it, Arthur gives each of the boys photo albums for Christmas, which presumably become these after his death.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Matthew exhibits a lot of this as a child, which terrifies Arthur, who worries about Matthew's ability to adjust to his new life when he goes around saying things (at seven years old) like:
    Matthew: And I'll be dead soon, and so will everybody else, so why should I make any friends if they're all going to disappear someday anyway? It's all so stupid!
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Teenage Alfred doesn't seem to understand how much Arthur has been caring for him.
  • Unnamed Parent: Both of the twins' biological parents.
  • Upbringing Makes the Hero: Both boys know they wouldn't have turned out so well if it weren't for Arthur.
  • Used to Be More Social: Alfred, who ultimately becomes as reclusive as beginning-of-the-story Arthur.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Arthur and Francis, in the long run.
  • Was Too Hard on Him: Arthur worries about this with teenage!Alfred.
  • We All Die Someday: Arthur is no exception to this, and knows it.
  • "Well Done, Dad!" Guy: Arthur seems to have a bit of this, especially at the beginning.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Alfred seems to have a bit of this. He admits that there's no worse feeling he knows than thinking Arthur is disappointed in him.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Matthew and Alfred, whose relationship starts to fall apart. They become close again following Arthur's death.
  • Where It All Began: Alfred mentions that meeting Dr. Kirkland was the moment that changed his life. Matthew mentions that elementary-school Career Day was the day things got difficult. Alfred mentions that the ten minutes of Arthur's first heart attack were the second moment that turned his life completely around. Matthew lampshades how life's biggest changes happen in the smallest moments.
  • Wild Child: Alfred.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Alfred and Matthew as children, considering what they'd been through at the time.
  • Workaholic: Arthur, which is sweet, given his profession.
  • You Are Not Alone: Again, seems to be a major theme of the story.
  • You're Not My Father: During one of their worse arguments, early in the adoption, Alfred says this to Arthur:
    Alfred: Why do I have to listen to you anyway? You're not my real dad!
    Arthur: I know I'm not, but I'm trying, Alfred. I'm trying to do my best to keep you and your brother healthy and happy-
    Alfred: You're doing a bad job!
    Arthur: ...Well, I'm sorry you feel that way.
  • You Should Have Died Instead: Alfred tells his biological father this as Arthur is dying. "I wish it were you." To Alfred's surprise, his father agrees - he also wishes it were himself instead.

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