As some of you may be aware, StarCraft is a game. Except in South Korea. In South Korea, StarCraft is not a game. It is a way of life.

Obligatory disclaimer: StarCraft belongs to Blizzard and Hetalia belongs to Hidekaz Himaruya.

"Korea! Dude! Open the door!"

South Korea recognised the voice and the style of knocking – hard and fast, like a machine gun – instantly. He leapt to his feet and ran down the hallway, sleeves trailing behind him, and flung the door open. America was standing on the threshold with one hand still poised to knock and the other clutching a laptop case and a strange rectangular box.

"America!" grinned South Korea, flinging his arms around his friend. "What's that?"

"This," said America, stepping inside without taking his shoes off, "is the most amazingly, awesomely brilliant game in the history of the universe. This is... StarCraft!" He brandished it in front of his face, waving it around so fast he could barely make out the cover art.

Korea stared at it in confusion. It didn't look particularly special. "What's so great about it?"

"What's so great about it?" America looked shocked, as though he'd just asked him why everyone kicked up such a fuss about New York or LA. "It's only the best game ever made! Come on, I'll show you."

He frogmarched South Korea into his own living room, grabbed his laptop from where it had been lying by the couch and turned it on. "Password," he said, turning the keyboard towards South Korea so he could type it in, then began to rip into the box as the computer booted up.

"Why aren't you playing this on your own computer?" he asked, still looking at the box as though trying to determine what made it so brilliant.

"Oh, I've already got a version on my laptop. This one's specially for you."

"It says 'subscription fee may apply'," said South Korea, pointing at some of the text on the box.

"I know, but it's so totally worth it, trust me. Besides, if you sign up now then you'll get all these awesome benefits from this Recruit-A-Friend deal they're running at the moment!" The truth was, South Korea wouldn't be the only one with the benefits. Blizzard apparently liked it when people got their friends to give them their money as well and the rewards for it weren't half bad. He'd been turned down by Britain, Canada, Japan, France and China before coming to Korea's house and the deal finished tomorrow, so there was no way he was taking any chances. "You can always delete your account later if you don't like it," he added hopefully.

South Korea looked at the ripped box, the installation process America had already started and the massive grin he was giving him, and smiled. "Okay. I'll do it."

The next half an hour was spent signing South Korea up for an online StarCraft account. It took far longer than it should have since America insisted on doing it all himself despite the fact that the entire website was in Korean.

"What does that mean? That one there?"

"It means password."

"Oh, okay." America typed something into the box and clicked down to the next field.

"Hey, wait! That's my password! I have to know it, don't I?"

"It's just 'password'."

"Why is it just 'password'? That's a stupid password!"

"Nah it's not," America reassured him. "It's the last thing people expect. No-one'll ever guess it, trust me. I use it all the time for secret military documents and missile security systems."

"Oh," said South Korea, and shrugged. "Okay."

By the time they'd managed to fill out the form to the website's satisfaction – which was harder than it looked, since the Captcha codes were in Korean and Korea had a great deal of trouble reading them – the game had finished its installation. America grabbed his own laptop and booted it up as Korea typed in his new account details.

Two hours later, they were in the middle of their eighth game and South Korea was losing yet again.

"This game is hard..." he muttered, staring at his computer screen in what could only be described as mild interest as America's Zerg overwhelmed him.

"You're getting better," said America bracingly. "At least you didn't nuke your own command centre this time."


America gave him a strange look. Usually when you played games with South Korea they were happy, whimsical affairs. He was, after all, the only person America had ever met who moved chess pieces for reasons like 'it looked lonely' and still managed to win. He had missed the point of Tetris completely and tried to build interesting structures instead of completing rows, and America didn't even like to think about what he'd done to Space Invaders. But now he was examining the screen like it was a particularly difficult puzzle that needed to be solved, and there was no humour about it at all.

"America? Can we play another game please?"

He checked his watch. "Sorry, I've got to go."

South Korea dragged his eyes away from the screen for the first time that evening, but only to stare at America in abject horror. "What? No!"

"We can play later if I have some free time, but if you don't want to wait then you can play with other people online. But don't you need to work on your presentation for the world meeting tomorrow?"

He cocked his head to one side. "What presentation?"

"The one about architectural advances in Seoul, remember?"

"Oh yeah, that one... Don't worry about it. I've got it covered."

"Okay!" America shut his laptop and zipped it back into its case. South Korea's eyes were already back on the screen as he stepped over him to reach the door. "Um... bye, then."

Korea raised a hand, but only quickly – a new game had begun, and he needed both hands to start building his workers.

The world meeting was one of the more boring ones to date, and that was saying something. It was held in London, which wouldn't have been too bad if the weather hadn't chosen that day to start raining so hard you practically had to wear scuba gear to get to the meeting hall. Damp, shivering countries doodled, gossiped and passed notes as an equally bored-looking England worked through their schedule. They listened to Germany drone on about car production, China give a particularly dull talk about agriculture in his Southeastern provinces and so many more that eventually America just zoned out. At one point, he was mildly surprised to look up from a drawing of the new StarCraft strategy he was working on to see Spain standing in front of a projector. He hadn't even noticed the Mediterranean nation start giving his speech.

"Thank you, Spain, for that riveting report on your immigration rates," said England in a bored monotone, his chin resting in his hand. "I'm sure everyone here found it enlightening and enjoyable. Next on the schedule is South Korea with what is sure to be a immensely entertaining talk on architectural advances in Seoul."

There was a short pause as everyone waited for South Korea to take the stage.

"South Korea?" asked England again, scanning the audience.

America followed suit, sweeping his eyes around the assembled nations, looking for a tell-tale hair curl. Now that he came to think about it, he hadn't seen Korea all day.

"Last chance, Korea. Get up here or we'll be forced to skip you, and God forbid we end this meeting early."

Still nothing. There was no doubt about it; South Korea was not here.

England sighed and crossed something off the schedule with an exaggerated slash of his fountain pen. "Alright then, next up is France with a presentation on the protection of French cultural heritage. Break a leg, Frog."

The next day, America had to knock on South Korea's door for a good minute before he got any sort of response from inside.

"It's unlocked! Just come in!"

He did so.

The first thing that struck him about South Korea's house was how dark it was. When he'd been there just two days ago, it had been brightly lit and cheerful. Now it was downright gloomy. The second thing was how eerily quiet it was; South Korea had K-pop blaring through the house about eighty-five percent of the time, and the other fifteen was when it was J-pop. The complete, oppressive quiet made America want to creep down the hallway in case his footsteps disturbed the silence.

He reached the living room, opened the door and stared. A blanket-covered mound was sitting on the carpet surrounded by empty cups of two-minute noodles. In front of it, a laptop provided the only illumination in the entire room, casting rather creepy shadows as South Korea panned around the screen so fast America could barely make out what he was doing.

"Um... Korea?" he said, cautiously approaching the mound in case it turned out not to be his friend at all, but some evil, noodle-eating blanket monster. "Why weren't you at the meeting yesterday?"

"That was yesterday?" That was definitely South Korea's voice. Unless blanket monsters were very good at mimicry, he was safe. "Oops."

"Don't worry about it, we didn't do anything important."

This was met with a grunt of acknowledgement and absolutely nothing else.

America was beginning to feel a bit disconcerted. It was one thing speaking to someone's face and quite another speaking to the back of their blanket-covered head while they played possibly the most intense game of StarCraft ever embarked upon. Besides, South Korea was acting very strangely and he was worried. The house was dark, the K-pop was gone and he appeared to be living off enough carbohydrate to put Veneziano to shame. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," was his answer, fired at him as quickly as the cursor zoomed around the screen.

He took a few steps into the living room, then another few, then another, until he was crouching by South Korea's side. It felt strangely unwelcoming, like he was entering the secret lair of some reclusive hermit. "You sure?"

"Yes, I'm sure," snapped South Korea. His tone of voice was so unlike anything America had ever heard from him that he took it as an excuse to whip the blanket off his head and slam the laptop closed on his fingers.

"HEY!" South Korea's head whipped around, his eyes blazing with such un-South-Korea-like fury that America wasn't sure whether to laugh or run for his life. But then the smaller details began to resolve themselves, and he found himself gaping instead. Korea's skin was so pale you could be forgiven for thinking he'd never seen sunlight in his life and he had dark circles under his eyes so prominent it looked as though he'd been punched twice in the face. His hair was unwashed and unbrushed, sticking up at strange angles, and the loose-fitting pyjamas he wore were crumpled and stained with what looked like sauce from the two-minute noodles. "What did you do that for?" he wailed, yanking the screen open again and stabbing the power button so hard America was surprised he didn't break his finger.

"Korea... when was the last time you slept?"

"Um..." He gave this due consideration, wringing his hands impatiently as the laptop booted itself back up again. "The morning before you came. When was that?"

"Two days ago?"

"Yeah, I think so." The desktop flashed up and South Korea dived on the mouse, opened StarCraft and typed in his account details with shaking fingers.

"You mean you haven't slept in over forty-eight hours?" he clarified in thorough disbelief. "Korea, that's not good for you!"

"I'm not tired," he said as the game logged him in.

"And you've been eating nothing but these noodle things!"

"You eat burgers all the time," he countered.

"Well, yeah, but I exercise! You can't eat crap if you're just gonna sit around and play StarCraft all day! Don't you have any, I don't know, political duties? National affairs to be taking care of?"

South Korea raised an arm and wordlessly pointed to a two-foot high stack of papers in the corner, not taking his eyes off the screen. America found himself wishing he'd blink – just watching him was making his eyeballs feel dry. "They just bring them in for me. I'll work through them when I have time."

America took a deep breath, working out his strategy. "Okay. Why don't you come for a walk with me? Or, I don't know, take a nap or something. Don't you feel like taking a break from that game?"


Seeing that more detail wasn't forthcoming, he tried again. "We could go shopping, or have dinner in one of your restaurants. You could show me Namsan Tower or that waterfall with all the pretty lights. I've always wanted to see it."

"Maybe later," said South Korea. "Look, America, I don't want to be rude, but please could you leave? I'm trying to master dragoon micromanagement and it's hard to concentrate and talk to you at the same time."

America left South Korea's house in a state of overwhelmed bewilderment. He'd only introduced Korea to StarCraft three days ago and it was already taking over the smaller nation's life. He'd heard of this sort of condition before, now he thought of it. He'd never had to worry about it himself – his attention span was far too short for obsession with anything more time-consuming than hamburgers – but he knew that if he didn't do something, something awful would happen to South Korea. He wasn't entirely sure what, as nations couldn't die from exhaustion like humans, but it couldn't be good and it was all his fault.

Once again, he had to step in and save another nation from the depths of oblivion. That was what he was best at – he was the hero, after all – and he knew exactly what he had to do.

An hour later, America sat in front of his desktop computer and opened up the StarCraft website. When creating South Korea's account, he had cleverly installed a back door. It was a safeguard in case of situations like this, when national security was at stake and the circumstances forced him to exercise his amazing hacking powers. Because, during the account creation process, he had taken control of choosing the password. He had done it precisely for situations such as these. The fact that he'd been desperate to use South Korea's awesome Hangul keyboard had nothing to do with it.

He logged into South Korea's account with ease and, grinning in triumph, deactivated it. Then, as an afterthought, he changed the password so that the smaller nation wouldn't be able to get in and reverse what he'd done.

There. That should fix everything. The USA saves the day yet again.

Even more impressed with himself than usual, America yawned, stretched and shut down his computer to get ready for bed. Perhaps, across the other side of the world, South Korea was doing the same thing now that he had no StarCraft to keep him awake. He can thank me in the morning.

At exactly twenty-four minutes past one, America was shaken awake by one of his aides. Even in the darkness, he could see that her face was pale and frantic.

"What's wrong?" he mumbled, reaching for his glasses.

"You're needed at the White House right away, sir," she said, her voice shaking. "It's an international emergency."

Slightly scared and very confused, America changed out of his pyjamas and threw on something vaguely respectable as quickly as he could. There was a car waiting for him outside; he checked his reflection in the rear-view mirror and raked his fingers through his hair in an attempt to make himself look more presentable. The car drew up outside the White House and anxious officials escorted him into the building, assuring him that the President would answer all his questions once they were inside.

To his surprise, he wasn't taken to the Oval Office. He wasn't even taken to one of the meeting rooms. He was marched instead to a lift that took him all the way down to the Presidential Emergency Operations Centre, a bunker deep beneath the building designed to withstand everything but the most direct nuclear blast. It was used only in times of grave emergency. America felt himself begin to panic as he took his seat at the table, looking around at the most high-ranked government officials he had and, at the head of the room, his President.

"Okay," he said, too stressed and scared to bother with formalities. "Would anyone like to tell me what the hell is going on here?"

Everyone turned to look at the President; he took a deep breath, as though wishing he didn't have to say this. "We believe we may be witnessing the beginnings of nuclear war."

"Nuclear war? With who?"

"North Korea."

America stared at him. "Why? What's happening?"

"There is evidence that an extensive ring of sleeper agents operating within the South Korean capital city of Seoul have begun to execute a well-laid plan that may have been in the makings for decades, taking the capital, freezing channels of communication and seizing control of military operations."

One of the government officials speaks up. "With all due respect, sir, I don't see the point of this plan. Clearly they've been working for years to get spies this high up in the government, but what are they gaining from this?"

"What are they doing?" demanded America. He was beginning to wish they'd just tell him the full story and be done with it. "Fill me in, start to finish."

His President ran his fingers through his hair and sighed. "Yesterday, at twenty-three hundred hours, we lost all communication with the South Korean government. Even the phone lines seem to have gone down. At thirty minutes past midnight, they... they began firing missiles."

America sat up very straight. "Missiles? At us?"

"That's the thing. Not at us. We don't know where they're aiming for, but it appears to be completely random. Most are just crashing into the Pacific but one narrowly missed the coast of Japan. We believe they're trying to draw us out in a display of power."

Before anyone could reply, an clerk rushed into the room. She was breathing hard as though she'd just run all the way there, her glasses crooked and strands of hair falling from her otherwise immaculate bun. "Excuse me, but we've just had an important development in the Seoul situation."

The room took a collective breath. "Yes?" prompted the President.

"We just got a message. We can't trace it specifically but it appears to come from somewhere within South Korea. It was encrypted using government methods and sent over one of the channels we believed to be frozen."


She bit her lip. "And... we don't know what it means."

"What does it say?"

"It says 'I WAS HALFWAY THROUGH A CAMPAIGN GAME, YOU MONSTER' in block capitals. We think it might have something to do with al-Qaeda."

America sighed deeply and sank so low in his chair his nose was almost level with the table, feeling the tension leave his muscles. Thank God. They weren't at war with North Korea after all.

"Does this mean something to you?" asked his President.

"Yeah," he nodded. "Just let me talk to South Korea. I think I can clear this all up."

"Korea, missiles are not toys!" shouted America, banging open the door to South Korea's house and striding angrily down the hall to the living room. "My entire government's convinced we're on the brink of nuclear war!"

South Korea was lying on the floor, tangled in his blanket. The two-minute noodle cups had been quite obviously hurled around the room in a fit of outrage and the stack of paperwork was so scattered and ripped it looked as though it had been attacked by wild animals. When America stormed into the room, he rolled over and glared at him with hurt, anger and betrayal in his eyes. "I'll kill myself!" he shrieked, beating his fists on the carpet. "Is that what you want? IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT?"

"Dude, calm down! You're getting hysterical!"

"Reactivate my subscription! DO IT!"

"I can't-"

"Do it or... or..." South Korea floundered, trying to come up with a threat great enough to truly encompass the importance of this situation. "I'll go COMMUNIST!"

America gaped at him. "You wouldn't."

"My brother's only a two-hour drive away and he'd be really pleased to have me back!"

"But there's millions of people depending on you! Are you really going to sacrifice their happiness and freedom in exchange for a StarCraft subscription?"

In answer to this, South Korea sprang into a crouching position, picked up the remote lying next to the couch and pointed it at the TV. It flickered to life, showing some sort of odd Korean game show. He jabbed at the buttons until the screen showed an actual, live game of StarCraft, complete with Korean commentary. America stared at it, unable to believe what he was seeing."Um... what's that?"

"It's a StarCraft channel."

"A StarCraft channel? Korea, how many of these do you have?"

"Three. THREE CHANNELS." And, as if to emphasise his point, he pressed another button on the remote until what looked like a concert flashed across the screen. Except, as America looked, he realised that it wasn't a concert. The thousands of screaming fans weren't cheering on a band. They were cheering on the two people sitting on the stage, their fingers a blur as they competed in the giant StarCraft game displayed on enormous screens. "They're professionals," said South Korea proudly. "They get sponsorship deals and pay checks regular people can only dream of just for playing. And that stadium? It was built specifically for StarCraft tournaments. We even have college recommendations based around it!"

America tried to say something and found that his jaw was hanging too far down to facilitate speech. God help me. I've created a monster.

South Korea turned to him now, chest heaving. "If you take away our StarCraft then we might as well be Communist because our FREEDOM as INDIVIDUALS will have been STOMPED INTO THE GUTTER BY WESTERN CULTURAL POLLUTION!"

Despite everything, America knew when a battle was lost. "Okay, fine! I'll reactivate your subscription! Jeez!"

In the fastest emotional about-turn America had ever seen, South Korea actually squealed with delight and launched himself at him, enveloping him in a hug so tight he could barely breathe. "You will? Really? And you'll change my password back and everything?"

"Yes, whatever," he sighed, extricating himself from Korea's overenthusiastic embrace. "I'll go and do it now."

As America typed South Korea's account details into the login page, safely home in D.C., his attention was drawn to a colourful, flashing advert on the side of the screen. It was highly intriguing and he clicked on it, momentarily forgetting about his reactivation duties. The page it took him to was even more intriguing. He took a few moments to read the details of the offer, a smile slowly beginning to break out across his face. This was perfect. This was everything he needed. How had he not thought of it before? It was so obvious; all South Korea needed was something to take his mind off of StarCraft.

Plan A had failed, but Plan B was going to work like a charm.

"Korea! Dude! Open the door!"

South Korea recognised the voice and the style of knocking – hard and fast, like a machine gun – instantly. He leapt to his feet and ran down the hallway, sleeves trailing behind him, and flung the door open. America was standing on the threshold with one hand still poised to knock and the other clutching a laptop case and a strange rectangular box.

"America!" grinned South Korea, flinging his arms around his friend. "Did you reactivate my StarCraft account? Can I play it again now? Wait, what's that?"

"This," said America, stepping inside without taking his shoes off, "is the most amazingly, awesomely brilliant game in the history of the universe. This is... World of Warcraft!"

That stuff that South Korea told America about the professional circuits and giant e-stadiums? It's all true. All. True.

In other news, I adore South Korea. He's so much fun to write... I just want to put him in my pocket and carry him everywhere with me. ^_^

If you liked it, leave a review! If you didn't like it, leave a review! If you're feeling sort of lukewarm and aren't really willing to make a commitment either way, leave a review! I'd love to know what you think.