((Joyful Note: Ah, Mao, a time honoured game of great skill and great debauchery, leaving many great card players in tears from its inconsistent rules and general doochbaggery of people who force their friends, and occasionally enemies, into its twisted wilds of play. If you are familiar with this game and notice any rules here different from what you are used to, blame it on America making stuff up. If you notice any rules missing or disregarded, blame America for forgetting about them in his ignorance. In fact, just blame America for everything. It's most likely his fault anyway. I am such a Canadian jerk-face :3))

Russia was not entirely sure why America had invited him to his house for a sleep over. Granted the Cold War was long passed, but tensions between them were not yet gone and America had certainly shown no signs of wanting to make amends.

Yet still, when Russia hesitantly knocked on the burger-lover's door, America answered it with a wide grin.

"RUSSIA! Glad you could make it my man! Come right on in! You can leave your stuff in the living room. Kiku's already there with Iggy, Mattie, Tony and Francis," America muttered the last name and Russia highly suspected the Frenchman had invited himself. Even so, Russia was still unsure just why he had been invited.

"Da, I was worried I would be late, the plane ride was quite long," Russia returned America's grin with his usual amused smile and brushed past him. He realised that he had never been inside America's main house like this before. It was quite nice he supposed, big and airy, and unless he was mistaken he'd seen some sunflowers among the variety of blooms in the front garden. He had to contend that perhaps Lithuania had good reason to enjoy his time in this house (though the large superpower would never admit this aloud).

"Right! Well I guess that's everybody," America grinned at his guests as Russia set his overnight bag down on the floor and sat on the blue sofa to survey the other nations who all seemed just as surprised as he was that he was present. France had stopped harassing England mid-grope when Russia had entered the room flanked by an excited America and England had paused mid-France whacking. Japan was not staring at Russia; he was looking away in some partially hidden disgust. America's odd friend Tony was playing a video game and completely ignoring Russia, but that wasn't unusual as he rarely seemed to give any other nation besides America any mind except to insult them (though Lithuania swore Tony had gone out of his way to abduct him onto an alien spaceship once- Russia blamed all the hamburgers America forced down his throat while he lived with him). Canada was nowhere to be seen, but it was altogether possible he was in full view and invisible.

As Russia thought about Canada he couldn't help notice how comfortable America's couch was. It reminded him a bit of a chair he once got to sit in during a G8 meeting. Sadly he could never find that same chair again but this felt almost like it. How odd.

"M-maple," Canada squeaked, unheard by the nation that was crushing him.

"Anyway guys, since we're all here, I thought we could all play a little card game I learned from Germany!" America said loudly, pushing a hand into his pocket and drawing out a deck of cards with the American flag printed on the backs.

"From Germany?" Japan's eyes shifted to the deck of cards. He had never learned anything but war training from Ludwig even though he considered him a friend.

"Yep! And lemme tell you it is awesome. Like me! So get in a circle so we can play!" Alfred hurried to the center of the room and sat cross legged on the carpet. Without a word, Russia slid to the floor and joined him, looking a bit nervous. Canada wheezed and managed to sit on the ground as well, followed by Japan, England, France and Tony who arranged themselves into a circle (Canada shifted further from the Russian out of fear of being used as a seat again). From America and going counter clockwise, the order was America, Tony, France, Canada, England, Japan and the bemused Russia.

America proceeded to pull out a second deck of cards identical to the first and began shuffling them together. Well, that wasn't too unusual. Plenty of card games required two decks. However, America then proceeded to pull out a third and a fourth deck and miraculously began to shuffle them all together.

"A-America! What kind of game requires over two hundred bloody cards?" England scoffed, staring at the speed at which America was shuffling. Russia could see smoke rising from the friction.

"Mao," America smirked and began dealing the cards, five to each player.

"Mao hmm? And what are the rules to this game?" France asked, reaching forward to touch his hand.

"PENALTY CARD!" America grabbed a card from the top of the massive pile of cards in the center of the group and slammed it down in front of the Frenchman, "No touching your hand yet!"

"W-what? But I haven't even heard the rules yet!"

Alfred smirked, looking positively giddy. "In Mao, there is only one rule I'm allowed to tell you, and it's this one."

"What one?" Japan asked, looking confused.

"I just said it," Alfred grinned.

Russia stared down at his hand, wondering when it would be safe to touch it. This game seemed highly unusual.

"So how are we supposed to play if we don't know the rules?" England asked, sounding irked.

Alfred simply grinned. "The game of Mao is like the game of life, you learn as you go!"

"Ah, it is a game of inductive reasoning then?" Japan asked.

"I have no idea because 'inductive' is not part of the American language, as far as I know!" America laughed and grabbed his hand of cards. The others stared for a moment and then slowly raised their cards as well. Russia was a little relieved when he found America did not give out another penalty card. Instead, he reached casually to the top of the deck and flipped the top card, placing it on the left side of the massive tower of cards. A four of hearts.

America grinned and silently took a card from his hand and placed it on top of the four. His was a King of hearts. As soon as he placed it he said "King of Hearts" and looked pointedly at the alien Tony next to him. The alien presumably had also learned this game because he was already pulling a card from his hand and placing it on top of America's. A King of Spades.

"All hail Chairman Mao, King of Spades!" the alien's ringing voice sounded extremely eerie to the other nations, none of them having heard him speak before. It was unnerving to say the least. France was seated next to the alien and shivered, but was determined too. The game clearly had many strange and unfairly hidden rules if the previous two turns and his cruel twist of fate with his early penalty card were anything to go on, but damn it the French were a strong and resourceful (not to mention incredibly sexy) people and they would win this game!

The Frenchman pulled an ace of spades from his hand and clearly said "Ace of Spades!" before he placed it on top of the King. He then looked toward England but let out a small shriek as America slammed another card face down in front of him.

"PENALTY CARD! You didn't say 'wush wush'!" America snickered.

"Wush wush?" France twitched, "What a ridiculous rule! Why not just name it like the rest? Is that for all aces or just the ace of spades?"

"Can't say, can't say," Alfred should his head and turned a smile on England, who was looking carefully at his hand with his giant eyebrows furrowed. "PENALTY FOR TAKING TOO LONG!" America slammed a card down in front of his former guardian.

"What? You can't give me a penalty card for that, how the bloody hell am I supposed to figure out this stupid game if I can't even think about it?"

"Don't know, don't care, play a card!" the American seemed to be close to wetting himself out of joyous glee.

"Oh, fine then you twit..." England muttered and hesitated only a second more before hopefully placing an ace of hearts over the ace of spades.

"Oh, um, I think you forgot about me..." Canada whispered from between France and England.

"Oh yes, it's Matthew's turn not mine, you can have that blasted card back!" England made to return his penalty card but America stopped him.

"Nuh-uh, I saw Mattie there! (Well his polar bear but never mind that) It wasn't his turn, it's yours!" America sniggered.

"What? That doesn't make sense!" England protested.

"Oh, I think it means that aces... well the ace of spades at least I don't know... but it probably means that you skip the next person's turn..." Canada mumbled softly, but for once he was actually heard and England looked rather flustered.

"Oh well... yes I suppose if... well why can't we play a game that makes sense, like Bridge or Euchre! Blast it all..." England's eyes turned to Japan seated next to him, but the Asian man's eyes did not leave his cards.

America's eyes glinted as he seemed to count seconds. Russia's eyes moved down to his hand and he quickly grabbed the four of hearts, placing it neatly on the pile in front of him. America scowled, but said nothing. Russia breathed a silent sigh of relief. Both he and Japan had assumed correctly that all aces, not just the ace of spades, indicated a skipped turn. Of course he had no idea if there were any specific signals he had to make after playing a four of hearts, but since America seemed to be moving to play his own card he assumed not. The Russian smiled to himself, having made it through his first turn without having a single penalty card given to him.

America smirked a little just before putting down a seven of hearts. "Have a nice day!" he said and flashed his trademark grin at the alien next to him. Tony let out a sigh and drew a card into his hand before putting down a seven of diamonds.

"Have a very nice day," the alien said solemnly and everyone (save for America) let out an involuntary shiver. Even Russia had to admit the small strange figure was creepy. Possibly creepier than him but maybe still not quite so much as Belarus.

"Er..." France frowned and drew a card from the pile and made to place the next card. America let out a loud laugh and grabbed from the face down pile and slammed another two cards in front of the Frenchman.

"SACRE BLU! What is this? I picked up a card; there is no need to punish me because you are jealous of my dashing good looks and fantastic military uniforms!" France sobbed.

"PENALTY CARD FOR NOT PICKING UP ENOUGH PENALTY CARDS!" America explained in a shout. "You picked up one when it should've been two!"

"Accumulative penalty cards, is that for sevens then?" England asked with furrowed eyebrows. He seemed to be chewing on the inside of his cheek in thought.

"You know you guys are lucky I decided not to enforce the whole 'no talking unless the card requires it' rule because you guys just can't shut up! HA HA HA!" America broke into raucous laughter as France reluctantly picked up his two extra cards and played one of them, a six of diamonds. He nervously glanced at America, and looked a little relieved when America's eyes shifted instead to Canada.

"M-maple..." Canada muttered to himself as he quickly put down an eight of diamonds. England nodded and went to play his nine of the same suit.

"STOP! PENALTY CARD!" America once again threw a card in front of his former guardian, "NOT YOUR TURN!"

"Oh, is it another skip?" Japan suddenly looked a little fearful and quickly looked at his hand. Before he could put down a card though America already slammed a card in front of France.


"YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS YOU-" a long string of French explicative followed as Japan sank back from his tensed state.

"Oh, a reverse," he said quietly, his breath slowing.

France looked at his hand and scowled. "Well I can't play anything, what am I supposed to do now? Do I pass or take a card?"

"I can't tell you, but if you do it wrong I'll just give you another penalty!" America sniggered.

More French explicative followed and France decided to try taking a card from the top of the pile. America smiled in approval as he did so, his blue eyes still sparkling mischievously behind the state of Texas.

Finally, France placed his drawn card face up, an eight of spades. He looked at the alien with some hesitancy.

"DIDN'T SAY 'EIGHT OF SPADES'!" America screamed with mirth as another card was slammed before the Frenchman.

"THAT IS IT!" France stormed, getting to his feet and kicking at his card hand. "I HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF THIS STUPID FRENCH HATING GAME! Germany made it you say? No doubt it was to insult the French! Well I will have none of it, or this stupid excuse for a party! I'm leaving! HUMPH!" And with that declaration, France packed up his sleeping bag and left the house, slamming the door firmly behind him.

"You know I'm starting to like this game better already," England smirked and was met by loud laughter from America and some anxious titters from Canada.

There was a pause as Canada looked at Tony, but then quickly realised that the eight of spades had been played and the alien wasn't moving. Taking the chance, he shoved a ten of spades onto the pile and said "Ten of Spades!" just to be safe.

"PENALTY FOR NOT SAYING 'TEN OF SPADES!'" America said gleefully.

"B-but Alfred, I did say it..." Canada said with a frown.

"Huh? What was that bro?" America asked with a grin.

"He said it, you ninny! Take the damn card back!" England grabbed the penalty card and shoved it back at the American.

"Well I didn't hear him but... I guess I'll let it off this once since you're my brother. But next time I'd better hear you!" America said sternly before Tony pulled a card from his hand and placed it on Canada's. It was another ten of spades.

"Ten of Spades," Tony said to another collective shiver before people turned to America, assuming that for some reason or other the game had been reversed again. America, however, was looking at England.

"What are you looking at me for? It's your turn!" England huffed crossing his arms.

"PENALTY FOR TAKING TOO LONG!" America screamed and slammed a card in front of the Brit.

"What? I just said it's your turn you wanker!" England snapped.

"Nope, Mattie went last and he didn't reverse or skip so it's you!" America sniggered.

"B-but your odd friend..." England gestured helplessly to the alien before slowly taking up the card.

"The card was identical," Tony explained, and then quickly covered his mouth... area. He didn't really have a mouth.

"PENALTY FOR TELLING A RULE!" America gasped and threw a card in front of his friend.

Russia looked at his hand now in surprise. It seemed that if your card was identical to the one in the center, you were allowed to play it straight away! A sideway glance at Japan made Russia decide the small Asian country had reached a similar conclusion as a tiny satisfied smile was gracing his lips at the moment.

England sighed and carefully placed a Jack of spades on the pile. "Jack of Spades," he added, deciding that to name the card and hope for the best was a good idea.

"SWITCH TO HEARTS!" America said gleefully. England glared at his former colony, but didn't say anything. Russia frowned though. So... Jacks were wild then? But shouldn't England then be the one to switch suits? Perhaps anyone was allowed but... it was best to wait before daring to try switching the suit himself.

"Hai," Japan whispered to himself before placing a King of Hearts on the table. "King of Hearts," he said, simply hoping he was right to do so. America shrugged and smiled, eyes looking to Russia now.

"Da," Russia nodded but bit his lip as he hesitantly played three of hearts. "Three of Hearts," he said, hoping both that it was the right thing to do and also that his own heart would not fall out during the game because it was such an annoyance to have to put it back in while in front of everyone. It was beating so hard in nervousness right then that it might accidently dislodge itself.

America grinned and slapped down an eight of hearts, but said nothing. Russia was confused by this, but shrugged and played an eight of clubs. "Eight of clubs," he said, simply trying to avoid the penalty.

"Okay!" America laughed and then suddenly frowned down at his hand. With a sigh he reached into the pile and pulled a card from the top. He scowled, knocked on the table, and turned his attention to Tony.

Russia wondered if the knock was meant to mean you could not play. He had to remember an awful lot of things in this game, but he was lucky that France took most of the penalty cards early on which helped the others to learn some rules without getting hurt themselves.

The alien put down a four of clubs. Canada a four of diamonds. Japan smiled and placed a four of diamonds on top of Canada's. England played an ace of diamonds.

"Ace of Diamonds!" England said loudly, making certain not to receive a penalty card for it.

Japan sat quiet as Russia smiled peacefully, setting a Queen of Diamonds on top of the pile. "Queen of Diamonds!" he laughed and turned to America. The Russian now held only a single card and there was nothing he suspected more about this card game than that the first one to lose all their cards would be the winner.

America looked down at his three cards in hand with a rather concerned look. Russia smiled. He knew America expected that, knowing the rules already, he would have the lead by now. It did not seem to be the case as he slugglishly went to draw a new card. He sighed and played it. "Queen of Spades."

"Seven of spades, have a nice day," Tony said and looked to Canada.

"Th-thank you!" Canada said brightly. "O-oh, right," he laughed and glanced at his hand before drawing a card from the top of the deck. Russia wondered briefly if he really remembered how France and the strange alien man had been required to draw a card after a seven was played earlier, or if he simply did not have a card to play. Whatever the case, the Canadian now placed a nine of spades, named it, and looked to England.

"Nine of clubs," England said with a resigned sigh. He seemed to have already conceded to the fact he would most likely lose this hand, and only hoped now that America would not be the one to win. Though it was likely he didn't want Russia to win either, and Russia was beginning to truly think he might.

America was looking rather irritated right then as Russia's turn grew closer and would likely throw a tantrum if the alleged 'commie' were to win at this game he'd so obviously had them play so he could have an easy victory. But the Russian would not care. In fact, it would be fun to see his rival's face so full of anger and hatred in his defeat.

Though America seemed to register the nine of clubs and suddenly dashed out a matching card on top of it. He grinned. One less card in his way to victory!

Japan played a three of clubs. America gasped and grinned.

"Manifest Destiny, pure and simple!" he said in exuberance as a matching card quickly went from his hand to the pile. In a couple short turns, Russia and America were neck and neck. How like them.

But it was Russia's turn, and the man let out a short giggle.

"It looks as if I win comrade, da? Two of clubs!" he placed the card. America's eyes widened and he gaped at it for a moment.

"Th-that's not true!" America snapped, grabbing a card from the face down pile and slapping it in front of the Russian. "PENALTY CARD! Because... uh, b-because... you didn't say baseball!"

"Baseball?" Russia blinked, staring at the still face down penalty card in front of him. "Are you sure?"

"Hell yeah, so you didn't win!" America said with a smug look. The Russian looked contemplative. Not that he was considering the rule, but rather the various ways he knew to disembowel the bespectacled nation to his right using nothing but his bare hands and his trusty water pipe.

"Alfred, did you just make that rule up?" England asked with a scowl. He didn't like Russia, but America really shouldn't be such a sore loser of a silly thing like this card game.

"Of course not!" America snapped.

"Then why did you stutter when saying it?" Japan asked suddenly, his eyes snapping up to the nation he usually considered a close friend. Right now though he was only showing his immaturity if he truly just made up a rule to prevent Russia from winning.

"I-I just forgot is all!" America defended, "A-and even if I did make it up, I can anyway because I'm the dealer and I can make up whatever rules I want!"

"Actually, you may only make up one rule each hand," Tony said quietly. "And I am only correcting a rule you are trying to establish, so I do not believe I deserve a penalty card."

"Er... well yeah, and that's so my rule! Two means you have to say 'baseball!'!"

"Oh, so you may invent your own rules if you are the dealer as well?" Russia said with a curious smile on his face. He was slowly beginning to warm up to this card game.

"Yeah, that's what I just said! Anyway, BASEBALL! Two of hearts, I'm out!" America laughed. "I win, and that means you're all LOSERS! Well I guess it only makes sense, me being the hero and all! Anyway, who's up for another round?"

"No thank you. If you don't mind, I'm going to make some tea and try to forget about this mess," England sighed heavily and rose from the circle, heading for America's kitchen.

"I would not mind another game America-san," Japan said softly.

"Great Kiku, knew I could count on you! What about you, Mattie?" America smiled to his right.

"Um... I'm over here Al..." Canada sighed, two feet to the left of where America was looking. "A-anyway, I suppose I don't mind."

"Tony?" America asked. The alien nodded. Without looking, America gritted his teeth and asked "Commie?"

"Hmm... nyet, I do not think so, America," the Russian shook his head, his eyes sparkling in a way no other country likes to see. (Except perhaps Belarus but... well she was always a little odd that way.) "In fact, I cannot help but feel as though I've overstayed my welcome here. If you don't mind I will show myself out, da?"

"Yeah, well, I guess that's fine..." America grumbled and set about shuffling the monster sized deck of cards again. As he did so, the Russian lumbered about gathering his things. He did not feel at all put out as he left the house though. No, he was not comfortable staying in America's house to begin with (though he did rather like the flower garden he admitted) and his mind was not on America and his smug look of victory. Rather, it was on Mao and its interesting rules. He could understand why being the dealer would be much fun, and he intended to find out all the established rules of the game so that he could try it out himself, making up some more... interesting rules of his own...

With his lovely Baltics, naturally.

((Joyful Note: I wrote this months ago and randomly found it on my computer. I read it through, kinda liked it, so I'm just going to put it up now before I finish writing invisiblecanada's prizefic. Hopefully that goes better than this.))