djsoliloquy: (Default)
DJ ([personal profile] djsoliloquy) wrote2010-04-11 12:18 am
Entry tags:

Beyond the Impossible High Score (Hetalia, Russia/America)

It is deceptively hard to write about something which is itself a procrastination tool. Your brain keeps saying IT'S OKAY IT’S RESEARCH.

...which, yes, is my sad excuse for being some 20 minutes late. Sorry.


Title: Beyond the Impossible High Score
Words: 2,300~
Characters/Pairings: Russia/America, drive-by Canada, Japan.
Summary: America tries to beat Russia at Tetris. Things get a little heated.
Rating: K/PG with aromatic nutty crack wtf undertones.

For [livejournal.com profile] miss_chella  as part of the [livejournal.com profile] russiamerica Spring Exchange ♥ I hope you like it!



America enters the conference room feeling excessively jet-lagged. He has to blink several times before he sees Russia sitting in the corner of the room. Russia is staring intently at an ancient Game Boy in his hands and doesn’t look up from whatever he’s playing even when America closes the door. America rolls his eyes and clears his throat. Beside the clicks and quiet music from the game, the room is silent. America waits a few seconds and sets his bag on the table—then re-sets it on the table, a little harder. Russia remains focused on the screen.

“Hey, Russia!” America says loudly. He walks around the table when Russia still doesn’t say hello or generally acknowledge his presence in any way. “Hey. What are you playing?”

Russia glances up, noticing America for the first time. “Tetris,” he says, turning back to the game. “No joking, please.”

“I wasn’t going to,” says America, but it was a pretty good one so he mentally files it away for a later time. He leans against the wall, sipping his coffee as he tries to watch the game over Russia’s shoulder. “You know, I’m pretty sure Japan’s come out with newer Game Boys since the eighties. Don’t you have Tetris on your Blackberry?”

“I am trying to beat my old high score on this one.”

“Oh, right. I’ve been known to play some Tetris in my time, actually. Not half bad, if I say so myself,” America continues, then realizes Russia isn’t listening to him anymore. He says in a slightly louder voice, “Yeah, I’ve been sort of picking it up again? Crazy high scores. It’s pretty easy, but it’s fun, you know? Like computer Solitaire with better music.”

“Good for you, America,” Russia says distractedly. “All that practicing pays off.”

“Oh well, I don’t know if I’d call it practice, but I try. Sometimes you just got talent, I guess.” America grins. “So what’s your, uh…” He sidles off the wall, peering over Russia’s shoulder. “What’s the score you’re trying to beat?”

Russia tells him. America chokes on his coffee.

“It was hot,” he mumbles when Russia can sacrifice a second to arch an eyebrow at him. “I, um. Wow. That’s… really good, Russia. I didn’t know you could get scores like that on Tetris.”

“Thank you. I maxed out a newer Tetris recently, and it reminded me that I never got around to beating this one. I thought I would come back and give it a try.”

“That’s great but, I mean, you know it’s okay to take breaks once in a while, right? Eat and sleep, stuff like that?”

“America,” Russia says, the request tucked in the words as he bows over the table from the weight of America leaning on him.

“Sorry!” America stands up. “But seriously, Russia. There’s more to life than Tetris!”

Russia shuts off the game as others begin trickling into the conference room. He sits back in his chair with a deeply contented sigh. “My high scores are higher than yours, aren’t they?” he guesses.

America scoffs, but not before a solid two seconds of standing there with his jaw gaping open like an idiot. “Well… no! I mean, it’s probably a little higher than yours, I just don’t… uh. I don’t have the number memorized.”

“You said you didn’t know people could get scores like this on Tetris,” Russia says.

“Well—I—because it’s so low,” America says, setting his jaw. Russia laughs.

“America, this is just something I do occasionally for fun, because I like it. It was not meant to be competitive.”

America exhales. He gives a little chuckle and it sounds relieved, even to his ears. “So that high score was just like a one-time fluke thing when you had a really good day?”

“I would say it was more the result of long cumulative hours of practice and resulting technical excellence.”

“And dumb luck and the occasional moment of inspired flair,” America insists. He folds his arms across his chest.

Russia smiles. “No.”

America’s arms are still crossed a few minutes later when Canada sits beside him at the conference table. At the table far, far away from Russia and with several large nations between them so America doesn’t have to see him in his periphery when he looks directly ahead. “Okay, what’s wrong?” says Canada. “You’ve got the little frowny wrinkle in the middle of your forehead. What happened?”

“Do you still have one of those old Game Boys?” America asks.

“Does it have anything to do with how Russia was playing one earlier?”

“No?” America says, staring at Canada with wide eyes to prove it. Neither of them blinks. “Can I borrow it?”

“Can I first make you promise it has nothing to do with Russia?”

America gives a weak smile. “It’d be nice if you didn’t?”

Canada sighs. “You’re a terrible liar sometimes.”



The entire experience of trying to best Russia's high score is a nostalgic reminder of why it’s a good thing the old Nintendo products are built like bricks and essentially indestructible. In the beginning, America plays in spurts—a few minutes here, a few minutes there, but when he starts losing it gets serious. It’s not even that he loses, he just… never gets as far as he wants to.

After the first day, it hurts to move his thumbs around. After a couple close calls on the third day, he tacks up a piece of paper in his living room reminding him Not To Throw Canada’s Game Boy Out The Window when he gets that urge. America commemorates the fifth day with an angry phone call to Japan, which he calls a second time and apologizes for the next morning, after a few hours of restless 8-bit pixilated dreams.

They spend a few minutes on the phone, apologizing profusely back and forth to one other until America hangs up and gets back to work. Not real work, not actual work, America thinks as he sits on his couch and stares the Game Boy innocently performing paper weight duties on his coffee table. Somehow this kind of thing became the work. America knew it was going to be a little tricky, but it doesn’t seem right that it should be this hard. Russia did it after all, so America can definitely do it. Wouldn’t be the first time he’s done something second but done it better.

And he beats Russia’s high score. Eventually. Barely. The screen fills up with blocks a few hundred points over, but after that America feels successful enough to get a good night’s sleep.

He makes a point to ask Russia about his Tetris game the next time he gets the chance. It’s during a break at one of the meetings, and Russia shrugs over his lunch when America takes a seat at his table. “You mean the old one?” he says. “I maxed it last week. After the conference, I think.”

“Wait. What?” America’s smile sort of crumbles. “So… you have a higher high score now?”

“Yes, that is what maxed means. The game goes to 999,999 points at level 20,” Russia says. He shrugs again and moves food around on his plate with the plastic fork. “After that it does not go any higher and the game is maxed. America?” Russia says when there is no response.

America starts. “What?”

Russia sighs. “You did not know there was a level 20, did you.”

“I didn’t know there was a level 10!” America throws his hands up before covering his face on the table. “God, I can’t believe this. And you did it in a day?”

“In a day after years and years of playing the game, yes...”

“That's still messed up! I mean, what the hell, are you serious?”

“America, don't. We do not need that kind of relationship over something as little as this.”

“Like what kind of relationship?”

You know.” Russia leans in, although there’s no one near them to hear. “If it is going to be the usual unfriendly competition, you are doing it by yourself this time. You want to beat it in less time than me without even knowing how to play? It will only end in tears, America.”

“Yeah, your tears.”

Russia rolls his eyes. “Except that I have better things to do than compete with you over this.”

“Yeah, because you think you’ve already won. Soviet mind game, right Russia?”

Russia covers his face as he sighs. “I really hope you are joking.”

“Hey, I believe I can do it,” he says, poking Russia in the arm to emphasize. America stands up. He can see the blocks falling in his eyes. “If you can do it in a day, I can definitely do it in a day. Less than a day! No big deal.”

“Do you have any idea what you are saying?” Russia says. “It is not just a case of one block happening after another. There is a strategy, there is a… a mindset.”

America raises his eyebrows. “You know what? I just got something. This is about that platinum medal thing, isn’t it?” he says and Russia gives him an ugly look. “Even forgetting skating for a second, what is it with you and being technically perfect? It’s not everything there is, you know. There’s… other things.”

“It was not about that, although being able to land a quad would still not dig you out of this hole you are making for yourself,” says Russia. He makes some vague hand gesture as he pushes back from the table, waving the conversation away. “Do what you want. I do not care.”

“What, and me doing this, that’s just… okay with you? Just like that?”

“I wish you the best.” Russia pats America’s shoulder and smiles. “Enjoy.”




America’s apartment doorbell rings that night an hour to midnight. He’s confused at first when he checks the clock—the last time it had only been around eight-ish, and he can’t remember the last few hours clearly. He gets the feeling the doorbell’s been ringing for a while without him hearing it. It’s like being yanked out of a Tetris-shaped daydream, and he walks down the hallway feeling a little disoriented, mentally falling in Tetris shapes in the spaces between the picture frames on the wall.

Russia smiles when America opens the door. “Up so late, hero,” he remarks softly, and America guesses he’s not actually smiling that much. Not snidely or anything. That’s something, at least.

America sighs. He sees his grubby sweatshirt when Russia does, as his eyes take in America’s late night attire. “I’m working on it,” America mutters. He turns back into his apartment without closing the door. That’s about as much of an invitation as he can muster right then.

Thankfully, Russia takes the cue. He wanders into the living room behind America, hands clasped behind his back. America flops back on his couch and un-pauses the game as Russia takes a turn around the room, examining the movie posters. “How far have you played?” Russia asks.

“To level 20,” America says, and Russia regards him with open surprise. “So you didn’t think I’d make it this far, huh?”

“No.”

“Almost didn’t.” America pauses the game before jeopardizing his score from not paying attention. “Level 18 was really bad, I don’t know why. Like, after nine it was horrible, then it got kind of okay again, but 18. Ooh boy, 18. And I’ve had to start over an ungodly number of times, too. Are you trying to sabotage me by distracting me from playing?”

“Not at all.” Russia floats around the room, looking unsure about what to do with himself before choosing a seat on the edge of one of the armchairs. “Keep playing. I thought if you did somehow win, it would make more sense for somebody to be here.”

“Oh. Well, I’d just have taken a picture of the screen or something,” America says. His ears get a little hot on the tips and he picks the Game Boy back up to taps the sides with his fingers. “You didn’t have to come all the way here,” he says and Russia just shrugs. “I am totally over eight hundred thousand points, though.”

Russia blinks. “Show me.” America does, and Russia shakes his head. “Well, you really have done it. I would say it is incredible, but I would not tell you because it would only inflate your ego and you would not be able to walk through doorways.”

“That’s really considerate of you, Russia, because I do like being able to walk through doorways,” says America seriously. He rests his head on the back of the couch and narrows his eyes. “So why are you really here? It’s not just to see if I beat the game or not.”

“Because it is not important,” Russia says after a moment. He’s looking down and picking at his gloves as he says it. “It will not change anything if you win, or lose. It is just a game, and was not so important that I could not come, so I came. And to gloat if you did not win, of course,” he adds almost as an afterthought.

“I dare you to make less sense,” America says, but he’s smiling for some reason. He yawns and holds his finger over the pause button. “So. Ready to get the ever-living Tetris beat out of you when I throw this thing to the curb?”

“We’ll see,” Russia says and settles back in America’s comfy chair. “If you max out I may even be impressed.”

“But you wouldn't tell me if you were.”

“Never,” Russia promises. But he’s smiling again, and this time it’s the almost playful one that America kind of really likes, just a little.

“Alright, ladies and gentlemen,” America says, and he turns the game on. “Let's max this bad boy.”






-
-
-

Yes, we can! Regular levels on the menu go from 0-9. Pay special attention to the level counter.

Tetris effect.


Apparently the Game Boy Tetris was one of Alexey Pajitnov's favorite versions, as it was very close to his original game.

"Tetris: The Soviet Mind Game" was the arcade version produced by Nintendo in 1988.

.

Post a comment in response:

From:
Anonymous
OpenID
Identity URL: 
User
Account name:
Password:
If you don't have an account you can create one now.
Subject:
HTML doesn't work in the subject.

Message:

 
Links will be displayed as unclickable URLs to help prevent spam.