“Hah!” Jason Todd’s voice rang clear as a bell through the speakers on Dick’s computer. He knew he should have had earphones on or something, but it really made him feel vulnerable. In a house full of people who were essentially ninjas, he knew to keep his wits about him.
Not that he didn’t trust absolutely everyone in the house. But trust didn’t mean he was stupid. Bruce would sneak up on him to test his skills; Tim would sneak up on him without thinking, bashfully and apologetic; and Damian would sneak up on him because he could. Even Alfred would stealth it up if he thought he could get away with it. ‘I didn’t wish to disturb you, Master Dick’. Yeah.
“Keep it down, Jaybird,” he hissed into the mic. He didn’t really have to whisper, but it helped to drive the point home to Jason.
“The hell I will,” Jay laughed back at him. Despite this, he spoke a little more hushed than before. He’d start shouting in about two minutes, no doubt about that, but what could you do. Dick learned a lot time ago that you have to count your victories when you get them. “That’ll learn you for trying to outdo me, Dickbutt.”
“You should be feeling sorry for me,” he whined, playful. He was a little shaky and giggly from running into that many creepers at once, but that was part of the joy of the game. “I should be getting pity. I just got blown up four times and my house is it tatters. Hey. Gimme some of your diamonds.”
There was no way that was going to work. But it’d cheer Jason up. And that was the point of this, after all. Try to keep the giant, trigger-happy, crippled killer entertained and maybe he won’t flip and put hundreds of people in danger - not to mention himself. It helped that Dick just liked seeing his little brother laugh. Or, well, hear him.
Jason snorted unattractively. “Very no. Get your own.”
“You mined them all!” Dick didn’t even bother scolding himself for speaking loudly this time, because he heard the door open. He looked over his shoulder to see Tim (thankfully; if it’d been Bruce finding Dick playing Minecraft on an offshoot of the Batcomputer - again - then there would be hell to pay.) Tim got a huge smile thrown in his direction, just for not being Bruce. He smiled thinly, but not dismissively, back and sat down on the chair beside Dick.
Jason, obviously, was none the wiser.
“There’ll be more, you just have to find them,” he said, and it was almost placating. It would have been, anyway, if he weren’t being so damned smug with his diamond pickaxe and diamond sword and goddamned enchanting table.
“You’re cheating,” Dick announced firmly, though he wasn’t serious in the slightest. Jason wouldn’t cheat; he hates it when people think he can’t do things on his own. Which, really, makes the game the perfect thing for him in his current state, needing people to bring him things and take him places and dote on him, really. It’s driving him nuts. Dick can tell.
“I can’t cheat in Minecraft. Not without obvious mods,” Jay replied, haughtily. The little shit had been doing his research on what he could or couldn’t do, at least. Dick smiled ruefully, but fondly, at the screen. “C’mon, Dickie, even you know that, right? This game is all about skill and luck. I just happen to have all of that.”
Tim cleared his throat, making a subtle movement with his leg to get Dick’s attention. Something he would have automatically anyway but he still did these things.“Actually, he’s lying,” he said clinically. Not looking for a fight, poor bastard. But Dick knew, he knew so well, that if he kept going he would find one. Jason’s tolerance for Tim had gotten better, yeah, of course it did. Soeme things just get fixed when you have to rely on someone to bring you chicken soup in the evenings so you don’t starve. But there’s only so much magic chicken soup can weave. “You can cheat. He could have set up a bunch of stuff for himself before playing this game with you.”
“I don’t think he did, Tim,” Dick said evenly. He was mediating before anything happened. “Jay’s not really one to sit on something that brag-worthy.”
Which was, at least, a little true.
“Damn straight,” Jason replied gruffly. Not growling, though. Which was a start. A good start. “Now run off and kiss up to daddy, Replacement. The adults are busy.”
Not the best end, but Dick had seen worse.
“Yeah, playing games,” Tim sassed at him over the mic, brows furrowing. He wouldn’t have, really, snapped back if Jason hadn’t used that nickname. Replacement . Always got Tim fighting back, trying to get Jason to see that he didn’t replace anyone. And, if he had done, that wasn’t his plan at the time. Dick shook his head.
“I said; fuck off,” Jason growled, warning. So it was going to be like that. It was up to Dick to stop Timmy from messing up and starting a fight and getting himself put on Jason Todd’s Black List of People I Will Fuck Up When I Can Walk Again.
Dick turned to Tim and smiled. “Go on, Tim, I’ll be done in a little while,” he said peaceably, and watches Tim grumble and stalk out of the room. He muttered something about just wanting to see the game being played. Dick has always gotten the feeling that, when Jason is concerned, he just wants to be included. Classic middle-child stuff, he supposed. But it’s a lot easier to deal with stuff like that when you’re actually related to the family you have issues about.
Boy, was that a heavy thought to keep for another time. Dick sighed at Jason. “You don’t have to be so mean to him, y’know,” and it’s nearly scolding. Nearly.
“Mean? Go fuck, Dickiebird,” he spits out, scoffing. “You know for a goddamned fact that was me being as nice as humanly possible.” Dick could hear him bash at the keys and his mouse button, taking out his frustration there, since there’s no way he take it out on his house within the game. Dick started making his way over while Jason’s speaking.
“...yeah. I know you think so? But just try to see it from --,” he tried to be the good big brother, fixing everything for the kids but at that moment, he saw what Jason had been working on this whole time. Three stories high and apparently still in progress, made out of stone bricks and perfectly placed glass and iron bars used tastefully with a garden and what looked like a pond. “...holy shit, is that your house ?!”
“Haha, yeah, how’d you like them apples,” and Jason actually sounded pleased with himself. That was a rare enough tone that Dick had to keep exploring the place while Jason’s little, diamond-pickaxe-wielding avatar looked down at him from the latest level.
“Good goddamn. That’s huge,” Dick said, then whistled. He walked in the door and was greeted by stairs and signs and slabs and pistons, all redesigned to look like furniture. This must have taken him so long. There were bookcases everywhere. The amount of work -- Dick couldn’t wrap his head around it right now.
“Oh, psh, it’s not that big, is it?” Jason replied, smug and would-be modest. Dick could nearly - nearly - hear him flick his hair out of his eyes, smirking and looking altogether pleased with himself.
“Shut up,” Dick said back, smiling. He couldn’t help it at this point. Jason’s happiness, when it shows, is always infectious. Always. “How long did that even take you?”
“I started when we split up a few days ago,” he said, meaning the point where they decided that it would be better if they worked on separate projects after a solid day of pushing each other off whatever high point they were on, into lava. “Whatever. It’s actually not that big, Dick. I just -”
And there it is. Jason realising that Dick was actually impressed and not knowing what to do with it. Dick should’ve timed it. He should have found out at what point Jason’s self-doubt and inner-hatred kicked in.“You should be an architect,” he said, this time teasing. Trying to make it easier for Jason to swallow.
“Don’t mock me, Dickie,” he growled. “My threats are never empty and I will -”
“No, I’m serious,” Dick continued, hoping to use the quickfire teasing tone to throw Jason off. It usually worked. He always stumbled and grinned and gave in eventually. “This is really impressive. It actually looks like it could be real, too.”
“Drop it. What’s your house like, show me where it is,” Jay said, and for the first time since they started playing, Dick felt like he was getting somewhere with Jason. Maybe if he figured out why he was so eager for Dick to leave the house alone, stop asking about it, stop complimenting it, maybe then he’d - Dick didn’t know. Talk like a normal person. Let him hang out for more than twenty minutes in real life and not over the computer. Maybe let him ask about all the shit he’s gone through in his life.
He wasn’t really banking on this one construct in Minecraft being the thing that turns Jason Freaking Todd into an emotionally functioning human being, but Dick was more hoping that it’d be a gateway moment to real opening up. Dick Grayson: Chief Executive in Wishful Thinking.
“One sec. I wanna take a look at this place properly first,” he persisted. He was probably pushing it. Probably. It was always kinda hard to tell with Jason. One day whatever made him laugh a week before will make him pull a gun on you. He was just a - complicated guy.
“I hate you,” he grumbled at Dick, but there was a lilt to his tone. A grudging amusement. Good enough for Dick.
He grinned brightly at the screen even though Jason couldn’t see him. “Lies,” he sang. He walked around the inside of the house some more, just the first floor - and frowned. “...Hey, wait. This place looks legit familiar.”
“Drop it, Grayson.”
“Nuh-uh. You know I can’t leave something like this alone. It’ll drive me crazy. This is - this is...” He tapped at the desk with his forefinger, thinking. Thinking hard.
“You won’t get it,” Jason said eventually, after Dick spent two and a half minutes tutting and humming and clicking his tongue.
“It’s in Gotham.”
“Big whoop,” he yawned, and spoke evenly. Sure of himself. “You won’t get it.”
“It’s - I don’t think it’s in the city now, though, is it?” Dick hazarded a guess. If it were anywhere in the city now Dick would have seen it recently. There were a few districts that got levelled back in the heavier earthquake-slash-gang-war days, though, so there are a lot of lost buildings in Gotham’s core.
Jason snorted again, legitimately amused by Dick’s guessing. That’s a little more what Dick was aiming for, it had to be said. Make ‘em laugh. “Warmer, I guess. But you’re still so cold that I feel kinda sorry for you. Want me to shear a few sheep for you, throw some wool in your face and see if that helps your situation?”
“That joke was so convoluted that it hardly counts,” Dick groaned, smiling against his hand still propping up his head.
“Shut up. Show me your house,” and that was a demand. It almost works.
“Yeah, it’s over here -- wait just a hot second, there, Jaybird. Nuh-uh. I’m not getting distracted from the matter at hand,” Dick tutted at him, shocked and little proud at the same time; the best way to get Dick off any subject? Try to derail him with a bad joke. If Jason hadn’t gone in straight away with his request, it might have worked. Damn.
“...fine. Whatever you fucking want. I’m going mining. And this time? I am going to take all the fucking diamonds.”