Disclaimer: I don't own Hetalia, or the rights to the board game Battleship. (And neither does Korea, for that matter...)
If you did this idea already, I'm sorry, I didn't know, and I didn't steal it goddamnit.
Taken from an anonymous request on the LJ Hetalia kink meme: "You know the game Battleship? Well my new head canon is that England is the absolute master of the game among the nations. No one that plays him can touch him and he's an extremely bad winner in that he gloats and struts around like he just sank the Spanish Armada again. Finally it gets to the point where no other Nations will play him so he's desperate for someone to play with so he pounces on America during one break, America has never been asked because everyone just assumes that he's not much on strategy. America ignores everyone else trying to get him to refuse and agrees. Then he absolutely wipes the floor with England. Everyone is shocked, England is furious and it's America's turn to gloat and strut."
Didn't bother posting this anonymously there, because I don't like trying to write on that site.
Anyway, since this was for my own enjoyment, I deviated from the prompt a little bit. Also, I am Alfredian, and as such, I make it a point to butcher proper English spelling. Boo-hoo. If you're going to complain, go cry a river, build a bridge, and jump off it. I might write a second chapter sometime in which the prompt is followed completely, but no promises.
If you don't know how to play Battleship, Google it. It's too lengthy to explain in the Author's Notes.
America is a little OOC in this one, judging from the anime. However, Hidekaz Himaruya's character notes on America say that America actually can read the atmosphere (and use his head), he just chooses not to. And really, how would America have survived the Cold War without a brain? So, Smart!America, by far one of my favorite kinds of America, makes an appearance!
Translations are as follows:
"Ce n'est pas assez!": (French):"It's not enough!"
"qui peut gange contre Angleterre?": (French) "Who can win against England?"
Nyet: No. (Russian; I can't be bothered to find the Cyrillic character for this, because my laptop doesn't support non-Latin alphabet characters.)
You Sunk My Battleship!
"Ha! Take that, you stupid frog! Nobody can hope to match the might of the British Navy! Perhaps now that you've lost for the twelfth time in a row, you'll allow someone else to take a turn at getting their arse kicked by my greatness!"
France began to alternately sob, protest the game's outcome, and insult England into a fight, but England's ego lifted him beyond the moon, and with one foot on the table and his chest out proudly, with a smug smirk on his face, he was untouchable.
America, sipping his soda quietly for once, rolled his eyes. Ah, Battleship. Was it a game of luck, or a game of skill? No doubt strategy had some role in determining your survival, but in the end it came down to lucky guesses. All England's consistent victories meant were either that he rigged the game, had an inordinate amount of luck, or was simply smarter than France.
While America would naturally favor choice three, he began edging his way around the crowd of gathered nations to see England's and France's boards, just to see if options one or two seemed more likely.
England had his arranged in a V-shaped fleet; the patrol boat took the head, while the submarine and destroyer flanked either side, and the aircraft carrier and battleship flanked the outside of theirs. America rolled his eyes again. Typical...
France had his clustered together in the lower right quandrant.
Well, this really didn't give him an answer at all.
"So who else wants to try to best me?" England asked cockily, staring at the numerous faces in the crowd. His eyes automatically passed over Spain, France, and America, instead studying more intimidating potential foes like Denmark, Russia, Germany, and Greece. "Anyone?"
Japan stepped forward with a slight bow. "I would like to try this game of yours, England-san."
England nodded, fired up with the adrenaline of facing a worthy opponent. "All right! Reset the pieces, and we'll get started!"
Japan silently took the seat France slouched out of, and began examining the five ships, placing them on the board.
America, on Japan's side of the table, watched the arrangement with slight interest. The patrol boat occupied A- and B-5. Trailing slightly behind it were his destroyer (C-3, D-3, and E-3) and battleship (B-7, B-8, B-9, and B-10). The aircraft carrier sat at the back of Japan's little fleet, occupying E through I-6. Flanking it sat the submarine, on squares F-4, G-4, and H-4.
Silently worming to England's side, America blinked at the abrupt change in England's strategy. Perhaps he overestimated the man's ego. England set up his ships in what appeared to be random order. The aircraft carrier was placed on A 1-5. The submarine was next to it, on B-D 1. On J-9 and J-10 sat the lonely little patrol boat. The destroyer occupied the center of the board (E 4-6), and the battleship hung out in the upper right-hand corner, on A-D 10.
"Ready?" England's confident challenge brought America out of his thoughts.
Japan nodded, completely serious. "Hai, England-san. I shall allow you to make the first move."
Well, the first fun part, the arrangement of pieces, was over. Now was the second; the guessing game of squares, often referred to by America as "The Psychoanalysis" part of the game. Those parts of games were always the most fun... Guessing and second-guessing and trying to dig your way to a conclusion without biasing yourself to your opinions, taking into consideration what the opponent might know and what the opponent might know you know...
Even if Battleship amounted to nothing more than a game of luck, this Psychoanalysis would be fun to watch. So America settled himself behind Latvia in a position where he could see both boards, silently sipping cola from his supersized cup.
England leaned back in his chair with a smirk and folded his arms across his chest. "A-1."
Without losing face, England smoothly picked up a white marker and placed it in the A-1 square on the radar board, while Japan took one and placed it on his ocean board. "E-4".
England blinked in surprise. "Hit," he said, as though not quite believing it himself. "Congratulations on getting the first hit of the game, Japan," he said with a wry smile.
Japan nodded. "Thank you, England-san."
"Let's see if you can keep that lead," England added offhandedly as the two players placed their markers. "F-3".
Both America and Japan blinked, each mirroring the other's thoughts. So close... "Miss."
England's expression remained neutral as he and Japan placed more marker pegs on their board.
America allowed himself a small smile. Had such a small thing really managed to tick him off?
The meeting reconvened from the one-hour lunch break at one in the afternoon. By that time, Japan lost, though narrowly and graciously (despite the swagger England couldn't quite managed to keep entirely out of his step and speech). Korea, witnessing his "younger brother's" defeat, declared that, as the creator of Battleship, he would defeat England in Japan's place. England wiped the floor with him. Somehow, England had roped Spain into a game with him, and upon ("valiantly") defeating Spain (again), England promptly went into the worst post-game victory celebration yet, provoking the normally placid Spain to a fight. Romano, who was also present at the time and did not take kindly to Antonio's defeat or England's reaction, joined his grudgingly-titled best friend in ganging up on Arthur, and Germany had to get Prussia and Sweden to help him restrain the three nations, loudly ordering the other nations back into the conference room.
Even after order was restored and Germany opened the floor to Haiti, the room still felt smugness radiating from England, resentment emitting from Japan, Korea, and France, and anger simmering from Spain and Romano. This disgruntled some nations and worried others, but America ignored the slight tension in favor of toying with the idea of playing Battleship against England.
America honestly didn't know how he'd fare against England. Perhaps the game just suited him, and he truly was unbeatable. It seemed fitting. America hadn't played Battleship much ever since he'd concluded it to be a game of luck and psychoanalysis. He loved and dominated strategy and war games, like Risk and Risk 2, but while he could hold his own in thinking games, a mental challenge rarely appealed to him. After his numerous clashes and private chess matches against Russia during the Cold War, America felt his brain needed a good, long break.
So America entertained the notion of beating England at his own game with a sardonic smile, having absolutely no intention of ever acting on the notion. Alfred remained in his own happy oblivious cloud, England, Spain, and Romano shot each other looks, and the meeting wore on.
"Since we've only got two days before the World Conference concludes until the summer summit, and we've got a lot to cover, I propose taking a one-hour break for a light dinner and then continuing the meeting for one hour more," Germany said, with a look that clearly told all the other nations to approve the measure.
After the desired quick round of approval, many of the nations began organizing their papers and putting their materials away, chatting with neighbors and formulating dinner plans. England cleaned up first, and exited with a flourish, clearly and inexplicably still riding a wave of ego from his earlier win. Several other nations followed him out, America with his lazy stride and nearly-invisible brother Cann-something walking with him, engaged in idle banter.
After almost half of the nations had left, Romano slammed his fist down on the table, catching the attention of those remaining. "That stupid bastard! Who does he think he is to get off acting all superior because of some stupid game?
Some nations, like Hungary, nodded in agreement, while others, like Norway, had no reaction, not really caring much about England's antics.
"It's not really that big a deal," Iceland said, mirroring his older brother's uncaring attitude. "So what if England wins? All you have do is not play him, and then you can't lose. And then he can't win, either, if he has no one to play against."
"So what?" Romano snapped. "Just because nobody plays him doesn't mean he won't still have that goddamn attitude of his! His ego is really starting to piss me off! We need to find some other game that we can play against him on equal footing, and destroy him in it, because I don't know how much more of him I can take!"
"Non!" France suddenly cried tragically, abruptly standing up and slamming both hands on the table, "Another game will simply not do at all! Ce n'est pas assez! Even if we were to defeat England at another game, he would always claim championship at Battleship! Non, we must find an opponent equal to him in strategy and luck, to utterly humiliate him on his own field of battle! Now, qui peut gange contre Angleterre?!"
Everyone backed up a little at seeing such unusual passion roused in the Frenchman. Normally, he took England's friendly rivalry to be just that- a friendly rivalry. However, it was clear that Francis had had more than enough of this, and wanted England to stop.
"Norway, what about you?" Australia asked.
Norway shut his eyes in a disapproving grimace, "As if I care about this little campaign."
"Maybe India? She created chess, after all!" Latvia offered.
"No," the woman said flatly, over Korea's, "But I created chess!"
"Alright, then... what about Greece?"
"I think I know the perfect opponent for our friend England," Russia suddenly said.
Everyone fell silent as Russia announced this, without his usual creepy smile on his face. Russia had lost to England once or twice in the past, at a World Conference last year, although the game had been very, very close. While England was the epitome of politeness, Russia later found England audaciously doing a victory dance for winning against "big, scary Russia". A petty reason for revenge, yes. But nobody else needed to know that.
Plus, he loved games involving Alfred.
"Well...?" Spain prompted Russia when no answer was forthcoming.
For two entire seconds, the room was absolutely silent.
Then everyone exploded with laughter.
For several minutes, the countries in the room doubled over, laughing helplessly, attempting to say something before succumbing to laughter all over again. Several were crying from laughter, and Austria had gotten the hiccups (which only further amused Switzerland, Hungary, Prussia, and Liechtenstein). Russia decided to allow them some time, as the idea of Alfred thinking was astounding at the very least.
Then, after three minutes, he decided enough was enough, and smiled.
In all of thirty seconds, the last stray chuckled had died, withered halfway up the windpipe, shriveled in the air.
"It certainly is amusing, yes?" Russia said sweetly. "You all do not believe me. But who would know better than I what America is truly capable of? We went head to head in the Cold War, and he came out victorious. We played many games of chess during that time as well. Although his people lost against mine more often than not, he personally was evenly matched against me. Neither of us ever won or lost without a long, grueling battle within and without. Often he drove us to stalemate or a tie after hours of thought and concentration. Games of strategy, and games of luck, are his element. Imagine England's surprise at losing to someone like him! Plus, he truly is an idiot, and it will make his defeat all the more devastating."
The countries listened to Russia with incredulous disbelief. America, The airheaded United States of America, could play strategy games with coherent thought? It couldn't be true... but then, Russia wasn't one to lie about things like that, and as he said, wouldn't he know better than anyone else? The nations felt a bit disgruntled that America always seemed to insist on competing for the title of "World's Largest Idiot" at World Conferences if he was perfectly capable of acting otherwise, but most of them began imagining the scenario in their heads; clueless, airheaded Alfred challenges England to a game of Battleship, bursting with confidence. England smirks, and accepts. They test each other with little verbal jabs and glances as they set up their pieces, call their moves, place their pegs. The game wears on. Both lose two or three ships, and the pressure builds. Finally, they each have only one or two more moves to make to secure victory, and at the last second, America triumphs. England sits there, utterly defeated, before bursting into tears and bawling like the big baby he truly is while America jumps up, does a stupid victory dance, and-
Okay, that was starting to sound like a louder, less graceful England. And everyone knew it.
"Won't we end up having the same problem with America that we did with England?" Iceland deadpanned.
Russia grinned. "Nyet. America keeps his head in the clouds for a reason. He will need persuading if we are to get him to play England. Stay after the meeting adjourns for the day, and we will convince him."
For another hour, the United Arab Emirates gave his opinion on what his felt were pressing issues while the rest of the countries respectfully listened. Well, England listened, with an ego still slightly inflated. Russia and his conspirators listened as best they could, still anticipating the end of the meeting. For once, they directed most of their attention toward America.
...Who lay back in his seat with splayed limbs eating a cheesesteak (hey, even he needed something besides burgers now and again), not making even an attempt to listen while thinking about the laser-tagging trip he planned on going on the next week.
Finally, finally, finally, Germany ended the meeting at eight at night. Once again, the nations stood up and collected papers, idly conversing with their fellow nations, but a small group put on a painfully slow show of cleaning up. America, the hasty nation he was, had cleaned up his lunch crumbs and blank papers within a minute, and was waiting for Cana-whatever, who he actually remember for once, babbling as his quieter twin packed up his papers at a more leisurely rate.
Suddenly, America felt a hand on his shoulder tugging him back, and he gave a little noise of surprise. Canada looked up and saw Russia smiling at him very innocently. With a squeak, he hastily picked up his things, and with a small, "See ya later, Al," ran out the door.
Irritated, America whirled around. "What do you want, bastard?"
Then he noticed a group of other nations standing behind Russia, watching him intently.
"We have a proposition for you," Russia said.
Given that they had chosen Russia to deliver it, America frowned warily. "Okay..."
"You may or may not have noticed with that centimeter-long attention span of yours, but England has recently challenged many of us to play a game called Battleship."
America frowned. "Insulting someone isn't the best way to strike a deal, Russia," he retorted with surprising smoothness. "Yes, I have noticed. In fact I watched most of the matches."
"Then you should know by now that England wins without fail, and acts like a... I believe you would call him a 'sore winner'?"
"Yeah, so what?" Alfred snapped. "So Iggy has a bit of an ego. You never call me out like that."
"Actually, Alfred, we do. Every meeting."
"Anyway, so what if he has a bit of an ego? Battleship's just his thing. Let him be happy. If you don't make such a big deal out of it then no matter what he does it won't affect you."
"We try that," Spain piped up. "We try that every meeting but he acts all damn superior about that stupid game, and it really ticks us off! All we're asking is one game against him, ending in his utter defeat so he can stop rubbing it in our faces."
"And don't try to say," Russia hastily interjected, cutting off America's protests, "that you haven't thought about beating him in that game. All of us have. And I know you have," he said, staring into America's eyes with an intense gaze, "because I know you love your strategy games. You would win against England. Not without work, but you would win. And you know that. And so do we."
The expression on America's face morphed into a strange anger, one that spoke of a betrayal of an unspoken agreement that he had already expected to be broken but not dwelling on it. "You stupid commie bastard!" America hissed dangerously, encroaching into Russia's space, "Why the fuck did you say that? There's a reason I don't go parading around that I like chess and Risk and strategy games, because they take up too much damn time and effort! I swear my head is still hurting from our last chess match back in 1990!"
Russia took out his pipe and gently nudged America's face away from his. "That was entirely your fault. Do not complain about whatever splitting headache you caused yourself."
America glowered heavily. "You know it was your fault, damn commie, and I still have the game records to prove it!"
Russia's face reverted back to his trademark smile. "You kept a memento of all our times together, Alfred? How sweet of you!"
America made a half growl, half-snarl sound at Russia's abrupt change in topic, but let it pass. "Anyway, so what if I can beat him? Why would I want to? Beating him will just lead to another headache and then he'll expect more of me if he ever got over losing his game."
Russia twisted his pipe. "Do this and I will not hurt you."
"Pheh, as if you could ever hurt me, commie."
"Do this and I will not hurt your brother."
"...I have a brother?"
"...Never mind. Do this and I will give you a burger."
"Ooh... a burger." America rolled his eyes.
America sighed in exasperation.
Russia put on what he deemed was a "cute begging puppy face". "Pretty please?"
America blinked in shock before contorting his face into something of shock and disgust. "RUSSIA! What the fucking fuck was that? Look, if you never make that face again or say those two words next to each other in a sentence ever again I'll do it! One stupid damn little game!"
Russia blinked in surprise, honestly not expecting the reaction. "Really?"
America shivered, glaring hatefully at the taller nation. "Yes! That was damn scary! You're pretty ugly to begin with but then when you do that with your face when you're obviously a creepy commie bastard that just makes your face even uglier; it might have been even scarier than a ghost!"
"But what's in it for me?" America hastily demanded.
"Other than me not scaring you? Personal satisfaction, I suppose."
"Okay, so beating England might be fun. But not worth his pissyness, in my opinion. So what do I get for this that makes it worth it?"
"I don't know, aru," China spoke up. "What do you want?"
America studied China carefully for a moment. "How much do I owe you right now?"
Right as lunch began, England pulled out the box containing his Battleship game, looking around hopefully for any contenders. Nobody seemed to be interested, to his disappointment. He smirked as France, Spain, and Romano shot him dirty looks, but wished that Japan or another smart nation would try their luck again. Not that the result would change, but...
Ten minutes had passed, and nobody bothered sparing his little table for two a glance. Dejectedly, he began to eat his lunch as other nations sat at other tables, murmuring conversations among their little groups.
Five minutes later, America barged in, carrying a twelve-inch-long cheesesteak and large soda. Then, he spotted England. "Hey, Iggy! What's up?" he called, striding over.
England suddenly felt as though someone else's eyes were on him, but when he looked around the room, nobody suspiciously looked away. Odd...
In fact, the room had actually been buzzing with talk of how America was going to challenge England to a game of Battleship, and while nobody actually looked at the duo, the conversation dulled to a whisper as everyone fixed their concentration on America.
America, for his part, had gotten rather into the idea of kicking England's ass ever since he agreed to play him. He had spent the last three minutes outside the door, wondering how to best approach the challenge. While it would be awesome to barge in with some valiant declaration, he thought it would be doubly entertaining to wipe the floor with England if England had no warning whatsoever. After all, a confident enemy drops his guard... So he strode in, innocent as usual, before darting over to England's table.
"Oh... hello, America," England said, grateful for company but disappointed in the utter lack of potential America had as an opponent.
America took a seat and set his cheesesteak and soda down on the table before examining the box.
"Yes, America, it's a game of strategy."
"Really? I always thought it was a game of luck."
"Honestly, America, how could you think such a thing?"
"Well, I mean, whenever I played it seemed more like luck to me..."
"You've played?" England asked, surprised.
"Yeah!" America beamed. "Hey, since you have it out, you wanna play?"
England sighed. Sure, America was nowhere near the ideal opponent, but nobody else seemed to want to play. "Sure, why not."
They picked up their ships and began to set them up, and suddenly this caught Romano's eye. He smirked as he saw what America was up to. Oh, England would get his! Playing his part, Romano stood up. He laughed loudly and pointed at America. "Hah! As if you'll beat England! You're an idiot!"
"Hey! I'm not an idiot!" America whined, playing along. "And anyway, I'll easily win!"
England's left caterpillar- eyebrow- twitched. "Insolent brat," he said smoothly, words laced with anger, "Don't make such preposterous presumptions. I was going to go easy on you, but never mind that."
"You can't go easy in a game of luck, Iggy."
"...Hit..." England muttered. "But don't get too cocky just because you got the first hit! F-6!"
The game continued at a rapid-fire pace, neither nation willing to slow down. By now, many of the countries had gathered to watch the game progress. America had lost his submarine stationed at H-7, I-7, and J-7, along with his patrol boat at A-7 and A-8. England, however, lost the carrier at C-5, C-6, C-7, C-8, and C-9, the destroyer at H-1, I-1, and J-1, and his patrol boat at F-4 and G-4. England was gritting his teeth; most of the time, his competition stayed pretty much neck-and-neck with him, even if the competition was as skillful as Japan. It must be sheer beginner's luck that had placed America in the lead. How the hell had he arranged his ships in such a manner that he kept missing? Had the idiot actually set up a fleet like this, it would have been sunk in no time! "A-1!"
"Wow, you hit me, Iggy!"
England stopped smirking. "Hit... Um... A-2."
"You just now bothered to finish off a ship you hit at the beginning of the game?" England asked, puzzled. At the beginning of the game, America had thrown out random points, even after hitting England's submarine. And now, only his battleship, with two hits in the extreme aft and bow, kept him afloat and in the game.
America shrugged. "Got the job done eventually, didn't I?"
England bared his teeth. What outraging indifference! "A-3 then, wanker!"
"...What? No 'you sunk my destroyer'?"
"Well, you didn't, so no."
England smirked. So he had hit either his carrier or battleship!
"Hit," England said stonily, heart plummeting. He swallowed. "A-4."
The carrier, then.
"...Hit," England whispered hollowly, covering his face with his hands.
"And I sunk your battleship, and the game is over!" America cheered. All of a sudden, all of the spectating nations broke out into a round of applause, whooping, cheering, and whistling. Several coins and bills were suddenly thrust into America's waiting palm, gloating over fulfilled bets and promises, as he had indeed beaten England at Battleship.
"How the hell..." came England's mutter, muffled from his hands. The room grew silent as his stony, dejected face emerged. "How the hell did you place your pieces so I couldn't find them?"
America lazily flipped his board around. "Like so."
England stared for a full two seconds, and blinked.
At A-7 and A-8 sat the sunken patrol boat. At H-7, H-8, and H-9 sat the sunken submarine. The aircraft carrier lay on spaces A 1-5, with all but one section sunk. And the destroyer and battleship...
Lay on B 1-4, and C 1-3.
"You... clustered your entire fleet together... What idiot would do such a thing?" England protested, red in the face, standing up. "Your fleet would never had stood a chance! In a real battle-"
"Well, this isn't a real battle, so it doesn't matter how I arrange them, so long as you don't find them," America replied easily. "Like I said, it's a game of luck, not skill. So don't feel too bad about losing. Of course, your strategy for hiding determines your success somewhat, but when it's a random guessing game, if you want it to be a game of skill, you just have to know how the other person thinks. So yes, Iggs, Battleship is mainly a game of luck, and I have just dethroned the king!"
He made quick work of cleaning up his board and putting the ship pieces back in their proper place, shutting the lid on the game. He leafed through his prize money and smirked. "Now if you'll excuse me, We've got fifteen minutes left of lunch break, and I'm in the mood for a hamburger."
I'm sorry I made everyone forget you, Canada! See, if you went epic-badass-pyro like I know you are on the inside, nobody would forget you ever!
I don't know if more Soviet chess players won than American players during international chess competitions during the Cold War, but I think I once saw a list supporting this thought somewhere. However, since countries are not personified for real (sadly), Russia-America chess confrontations are fictional and therefore true however I want them to be. Including the little incident America and Russia complained over.
Which headcanon reads as follows: It's well into the endgame of their last Cold War chess match, with America in possession of a king and pawn, and Russia just his king. Commence footsie game between pieces, with America slowly (oh so slowly) but steadily backing Russia's king into a corner of the board. For over forty moves; Russia and America alternately move their kings side to side around the pawn, until, almost fifty moves after this nonsense has begun, Russia suddenly makes a move that prompts America to unknowingly cause a stalemate.
(A stalemate, for those of you who are not chess-literate, is a certain type of tie, not the general term for it. A stalemate occurs when a person cannot legally move any of their pieces, and their king is not in check. Since this person cannot make a move when it is their turn, the game ends in a stalemate.)
(Continuing with the short chess lesson, one other type of tie can be brought about by the "fifty-move rule": if the same pattern of moves is repeated for fifty moves (white play-black play, fifty times), one player can offer a draw.)
Because America was so tired and ticked off and grateful to be so close to calling a tie between them (only two moves more until fifty!), he was furious that Russia stalemated after all that time, especially after he saw the "damn commie bastard giggling his ass off", realizing that getting America mad had become Russia's goal when victory became impossible.
Wow, I seem like a real chess nerd now. However, I'm not. I only know basic strategies, terms, and notations. I play like an amateur at best.
Smart!America is awesome! As is Risk 2. I don't like Battleship much though.
Yes, India is indeed the place where the first game recognizable as chess came from.
Oh, and, while we're thinking about Battleship and Risk 2 and chess...