It was well known among the Tetrinoes that when their time came to take the fall, they would have to put their faith in The Player and hope that they would reach the wonderful oblivion in one piece. Or four, but anything was better than being the lonely last piece waiting alone for The Player's guidance. Even remaining on the Board for all eternity was better than the waiting. So many stayed there, forever locked in place. At least they had each other, Square reasoned.
The Player was about to release him, and he closed his mind to the fear that was edging at the back of his thoughts. No one had ever come back from this place, never returned to above the floor, except for the occasional Dead One. They were quickly put back to rest, though, and Square had not seen one in his short life. He knew only that if a Dead One showed its face, the rest were doomed. The falling would stop, and then they would wait in darkness hoping for another beautiful opportunity. Square saw the end coming up to meet him and he hoped harder than he had ever hoped that the Player was wise and would deem him worthy.
Behind him, Line shook silently. He was practically royalty, but despite his perfect linear shape, he was possibly more terrified than Square.
"It'll be okay," Square said cheerily. "You have nothing to worry about. We've been waiting for this our whole lives, right?"
"Yeah," Line replied, looking abashed. "I guess you're right. You're always so solid, Square. Why aren't you as nervous as I am?" Looking at that fall figure, Square sighed, wondering why he had not been taken yet.
"I know you'll come down after me," Square said with as much of a smile as he could. Just then, the ground beneath him shifted, and he was floating. He could see nothing in front of or behind him, only a solid wall. Up was solid as well, but down he could see the tops of his brethren. It looked too close, and he narrowed his eyes as he was placed solidly between two tall walls. Bad strategy, he noted, looking around. He sent his awareness through the now-connected mass, seeing that there were empty spaces where no one had managed to enter. Was this reaching the end of this version of The Player? It couldn't be, could it? He didn't want to be banished to the Board. He wanted to reach oblivion peacefully.
Line arrived screaming down on top of him, joining the meshwork of tired and solid blocks. No one else spoke, obviously with nothing to say. Breathing hard, Line searched around, looking in the four directions and crying in relief when he saw his friend.
"There's a T Spin opportunity down here," Square noted, hoping that this was what The Player was planning.
"Don't guess The Player's actions," a stranger from across the mass told them. "It's bad luck."
"It's logical," Square replied. "Standing behind me and Line was T Block. She'd be good down here."
"Don't pretend to know how The Player will play this game. Merely hope that you will be saved in one piece." Square growled quietly, but he noted T Block had landed just above Line, and she was reorienting herself. Sure enough, as soon as she caught her breath, complaints started pouring out of her, as soon as she thought of them. Some of them didn't even make sense, but she was in an awkward position and The Player had some questionable moves in His arsenal. She was on her side, with her flat edge not against the wall, despite the fact that she could have easily moved into that position.
"And who the heck pairs me, a beautiful violet lady of wonders, with some nasty orange S?" T Block questioned loudly, surprised that the block below her said nothing. He had been there longer, and it seemed he no longer had the will to fight with her. This place was getting stranger by the moment, as T Block continued to assault everyone with verbal arrows, including herself and The Player.
"Please stop talking, T," Square said irritably, trying to sense where the next block was going to fall. If it would just land down here, two rows would be gone. T continued her ranting from up above, and there was a distinct thud as another block hit the edges. A few rows were moved, and Square felt himself lowering. Line freaked out at that, which had T berating him again. Square could only try and concentrate, hoping that no one would break the otherwise peaceful scene.
There was another thud and they fell lower, and suddenly there was a scream. It was quickly cut off with the noise of others, and Square felt himself beginning to panic. There was another noise and there were more screams. This time, it took a little longer for it to quiet, and Square felt his thoughts race. Line was blubbering something before there was yet another block falling.
This one thumped into the tower ever quicker, meaning either the Board was speeding, or they were much closer to the top than he had anticipated. Neither was a good sign, and there was a chance he would never be able to get off of the Board. These people around him were silent, almost waiting in anticipation. Some felt haggard, as if they had been there since the beginning, while others were still anxious, not that much older than Square and his friends.
"It's speeding up," T noted, looking across to see that something had entered her field of vision. "Square, what's happening?" Square sighed, hoping that he didn't have to try and reason out the world in the short time they would be together. Well, it might not be a short time, if The Player kept leaving open spaces. Even filling them up later meant they would probably end up split in half or quarters.
"They say the Board naturally wants to fill itself, so it speeds The Player. If He is truly skilled, he will not mind, but lesser Players fail as the Board tests Them." Square hoped that this was enough, and he searched around the board with his mind. If he were The Player, he would put something there, and there…
T Block obviously wasn't satisfied.
"But why would the Board want to fill itself?" she questioned. Square sighed and then tried to explain again.
"The Board is the place where most of us stay. Those Players who are unsuitable will not be able to take so many of us under Their wings if they cannot pass The Board's test. It's like it protects us from being taken to a place not suited for us." He paused. "Well, that's what Grandpa Square always said. And he heard it from his grandfather, and his grandfather, up until the first pieces took the Fall." Square tried not to let himself get dreamy at this point. "Could you imagine being the first one to Fall? Not knowing where you were going but knowing that someone was taking care of you? It sounds so exciting."
"Yeah, yeah," T Block growled, not sharing his enthusiasm. "I just want to know when this one is going to take us over. I don't want to keep waiting here."
"You'll just have to wait with the rest of us," Line said in a wavering voice. "Square is smart. I'm sure he'll figure out whether we'll all get passed over."
"Of course we will," Square told him quickly. "I mean, it was a long time before we got to Fall, right? That means The Player took a lot of us already. A few more won't be a problem." As if to prove his point, another line cleared above them, just above T Block. She gasped, but then recovered quickly, pretending that nothing had startled her.
They were treated to a few more plunks of blocks, and T Block shut up during that time, leaving Square to think deeply about where the next moves would probably be. Line was still shaking, but now he had been boxed in with the last few moves. That meant he would end up waiting down below his friends. There were empty edges on either side of him, so he was sure he would end up being stuck for a while. Luckily, that gave him time to think about how The Player was doing things, to try and guess the strategy behind everything. If he could just sit back and think about it long enough…
"Square?" Line said hesitantly as there was another line cleared. Oddly, there was no noise on this one, and that almost made it worse as everyone seemed to be holding their breath.
"Yeah?" Square asked, a little annoyed at the interruption. If he could see the blocks as they fell from the other place, then he felt like he could try and put himself in The Player's position more efficiently. But there were only four directions for the Tetrinoes. There always had been, and there always would be. But that was beside the point, and Line had started shaking worse at the annoyance in his voice. Square softened his tone and tried again. "What is it, Line?"
"I'm scared." Line said this in a near whisper. It was like he was admitting his darkest secret, and Square tried not to sound rude when he replied. After all, it was probably normal to be apprehensive about joining the beyond. No one knew what happened, after all. They just knew the stories and expected that it would happen. Square had thought the same things, but he had never been scared. He had just been curious about what could happen.
Before he could say something to reassure his friend, there was another line clear. The Player was getting back into stride, and there were more screams, quickly suppressed by the ones around them. Line whimpered at the sounds, and then Square had to try and deal with that as well.
"Take a couple of deep breaths," Square told the shaking noble. "I'm right here. Everything will be fine. This is what we've been waiting for. This is what we were raised to do."
"Right, right. You're right. I know that." Line took a shuddery breath. "No, I'm overreacting. People scream in surprise all the time. T Block was there. She didn't see anything bad, right T Block?"
"Nah, of course not," she replied immediately. "Besides, nothing scares me. I'm way too old to still be scared about what happens after a line clear.
"Don't even think about that or you'll scare him," Square scolded harshly. "Line, just calm down. We don't know why anyone screamed. It might have just been Tetrinoes being separated. They're going to the same place, okay?" He saw that Line was still shivering. "Line? Listen to me. Everything is fine."
"Yeah. Yeah." Line calmed until a few moments later when T Block screamed at the top of her lungs, right after another line clear from above them. The noise almost blocked out her voice, but T Block had always been a loud one, and it wasn't as if she couldn't barrel her way through the undertones.
"Oh, fuck," she moaned. "It hurts. It hurts so much." Whatever had happened, with the next line clear her noise silenced itself. Line tried to see above, but he could not, since he was penned in. Square was even worse in terms of vantage points, and he tried to find out where she had been. It was gone now, but he hadn't been quick enough to check on her through the links between the lines.
"T Block?" Square called, the first tremors beginning to start in his core. "T Block?" He couldn't find her, but that didn't mean anything. Sometimes, he was told, when Tetrinoes were only taken halfway there, strange things came out of their mouths. Sometimes they just got quiet. There were more clears as he waited, but now that the lines were all changed, he had no idea where she could have been.
There was no answer, only the thud of another block. Line gasped for breath as he started to call out her name, screaming for her. He was shushed by the people next to him, but Square could only try and calm him as the fear started nipping at his words. Had this been happening? Was she gone? What had happened to her? Why had she screamed? She wasn't connected to anyone that he knew of, but it was possible, but she hadn't been talking to anyone except them. And she was saying it hurt. What had hurt? What was going on? Square tried to gather his thoughts, but Line was nearly crying and another ominous block fell.
"Line," he said sharply, not meaning to make the boy suddenly start crying. Line shuddered in his place, holding back his breath and forcing himself to be quiet as Square tried to comfort him.
"I'm sorry," Line said shakily. "I'm just really scared, Square. We're going to be at the same place, right? And if I end up going first, you'll follow me, right?"
"Of course," Square lied easily. "When you go, I'll be right here, and then you can greet me when I come over, too. This Player is a good one, so we'll all meet up."
There were more thuds, all in a row. A couple of lines cleared, and Line cried out, sobbing in sudden agony. "Square," he sniffled. "Oh man, Square, it hurts. No one said it would hurt."
"Shush," Square said softly, his mind racing. So, his top block must have been taken over to the other side. "You'll be okay. Just keep breathing. It'll be fine."
For a moment, Square wished that he could see the damage, but then Line cried out again as the next line cleared. Now he was sobbing quietly, trying to do as Square told him and hide the noise, but Square saw that it was hopeless.
"You're okay," Square said softly. "Just breathe. I know it hurts. You're okay." He kept repeating it, wishing desperately that he could save his friend the pain of being disassembled piece by piece. He could only hope that Line would gain some relief soon. Just two more lines. Then, he would be a piece.
Unfortunately, the next few lines proved to be not near Line, and so he was stuck sniffling and whimpering. Square kept murmuring reassuring things to him, but it might be a while before there was relief in sight. It sounded like the blocks above them were causing a bit of a ruckus as well, but he knew none of them and so kept helping Line.
"Y-you know, Square, I always thought you were so much braver than me," Line stammered out, still trying to stop crying.
"Hush, Line. You're being so brave right now. Much braver than I am."
"That's just because you're here. You're my best friend, Square. I don't know what I'd do without you. And even though it hurts I know you're right here and you'll be there when I'm gone, and that's so great, Square."
A line cleared, taking that third block from Line's frame. Now his whole body was pressed up against Square's edge, making him stifle a catch in his throat as Line held back his cry.
"But you'll be waiting for me, Line, and so I can afford to be so brave," Square said slowly, trying to keep his voice level. "You've been my best friend forever. And even if something happens, you will always be the most special person to me, okay?"
Line was going to say something, but suddenly he was gone. The line cleared, and Square bit back his anguish. So, he wasn't going to hear an answer. Well, he could wait until he was cleared. Then, he would tell Line exactly what he meant and he would get an answer, even if he had to wait out another board to do it.
The expected line cleared on his top half, and the searing pain made him hiss. It was worse than he had imagined, like someone had taken a hot knife and sliced him right in half. Nothing had ever caused him this much pain, not even when he had loosened one of his blocks during a nasty fall growing up. But he refused to cry out, waiting for the next line to clear him.
Something thudded next to him, filling in that blank space. The blocks really were falling faster, and he squeezed his thoughts into a pinpoint, refusing to acknowledge how painful his situation was. If Line had handled it, he would be brave. He would wait and listen to the thudding around him until he was gone. The stack to his right increased, gaining height until he was sure that The Player was planning something. Unfortunately, his mind was too tattered to focus on what was happening, until he heard something click into place above his head without wiping him out. Well, okay, he would have to trust The Player knew what He was doing.
There were more noises to his left, and the two lines above him cleared, leaving him. Stretching, he could barely see that He had foolishly put a Reverse L over the four empty spaces, tired of waiting for another Straight Piece. Now, it was capped, and it was unlikely it would be uncovered for a while. Square groaned, hearing more thuds and line clears from above him, but never getting any closer. Was this his punishment for meddling with what The Player intended? Would he be trapped down here, half a Tetrino as the Board remained unsatisfied with The Player?
No, no! It wasn't supposed to be like this. Line was waiting for him. Line was… Realization hit him hard. He couldn't feel his other half anywhere. Even stretching to search for it, he found only himself, echoing back on his own mind like some twisted mirror. His other half was completely erased from everything, like it had never existed in the first place. Like T Block. Like Line.
Oddly, he started to chuckle as the lines cleared above him and the new ones screamed and cried. The blocks next to him tried to shush him, but he couldn't stop, knowing that he was practically sobbing with laughter now. And he had wanted to tell Line exactly how he felt. Well, now he would never have to go with that confession. After all, he couldn't talk to empty space, now could he? He eventually calmed himself down, although the occasional giggle escaped him.
"I really liked you," he sighed, hearing the air around him change. It was getting more urgent, and he knew that The Player had failed the test. Soon enough, one of the Dead Ones would poke up over the top, and then this Player would leave. Whether Line was with Him or not was an entirely different question, and Square tried not to think about it.
When the area around him darkened, Square took a deep breath. He had survived the fall. He didn't know what was going to happen, but he could guess, and he refused to be scared. He just felt the darkness gradually set in, feeling as things started to change. Was this what had happened to Line? He hoped so. This didn't hurt as much. It just felt like he was falling asleep.
When the Board cleared, Square was gone. In his place, there was an empty bit of space. Far above, although not quite that far, looking at it realistically, several Tetrinoes waited impatiently for their Fall.
"Why do you get to go first?" Blue questioned rudely, knocking against Red and pouting. He was an L Piece, after all. He was special, far more special than some Square.
"Grandpa Square says that it's just how it goes," Red replied, obviously enjoying the idea of being best. "So shush and I'll let you stay next to me."
"Here it comes," timid Green told them from behind. "Get ready for the Fall."
"We'll all get to go with The Player," Red said excitedly. "It's going to be great! I wonder what it's like down there. I bet it's great!"
"Why don't you find out?" Blue said sarcastically. Red stuck out his tongue before falling. Shortly after, Blue followed, feeling something pass through him as he went. A terrible feeling enveloped him for a moment before he discarded it. What was there to be afraid of from The Player? He watched over them and sent them to the other side.
... So, yeah. I just felt like writing this. And is it sad that I started shipping Tetris blocks? [the correct answer is yes] Are there no depths to which I won't sink? [the correct answer here is no] Right. Tell me what you think. Tetris needs more lovely fanfiction. If you're reading this, I hereby DARE you to write something. I will write a review as soon as I get wind of it.