It had been hours since he'd picked up his paintbrush but the canvas was still blank.
He didn't feel like an artist any more. He didn't know what he was, only that he'd changed. It was inevitable. After all he'd done, all the deaths he'd caused, friends betrayed… He couldn't go back to being the 'nice' Titan.
The sensitive artist known as Joseph Wilson died years ago - he'd never wanted to be like his father, he'd always been his mother's son. But things change. Jericho now saw that, whether he liked it or not, he couldn't escape the fact that he had become his father's son: the son of a murderer.
Like father, like son.
He knew that none of the others blamed him for what he'd done. They kept reassuring him that he'd had no control over what happened. But he'd feel better if they hated him… God knew he did.
They had no idea what it had been like.
His memories leading up to his death were still a blur at times, but not the feelings. He remembered the sadistic pleasure he'd experienced at seeing Nightwing beaten almost to unconsciousness, the twisted joy when his plans were completed and his friends were about to be possessed by the same tainted souls that had corrupted him… The fear and distress as he begged for his own death - then the blinding pain as his father pierced his chest with his sword.
He sighed and started to pack up his art supplies for the night. He knew that he had to move on from his past, but it wasn't easy. Being a Titan again just reminded him of all that he'd put their team through as the Wildebeest leader.
He stopped to take in his reflection in the window; it was the first time he'd seen his appearance properly since his resurrection. Even that had changed.
He looked younger, his curly blond hair now short and messy - it had been down to his shoulders when he'd died. For a few minutes he just stared at his reflection.
He reminded himself of Grant. He'd never thought that he looked like his brother before but, seeing photographs of Grant at the same age Joey was now, there could be no mistaking the family resemblance. The biggest difference between them was their eyes: Grant had narrow, bright blue eyes like their father's, whereas Joey had always had his mother's soft sea-green eyes - but even his eyes looked different now, darker.
He stepped closer to the glass to get a better look. The whites of his eyes were jet black, leaving only a ring of bright green amidst the eerie blackness. They looked the way they used to whenever he used his powers.
Even though this body was new, he thought he could see faint signs of his old scars. The two most recent to his old body - the scar that ran down his chest over his heart, and the one mirrored on his back - were both caused by his father's blade, the fatal strike. The scar that ran across his throat still hurt as he remembered how the knife had torn through his neck to his vocal cords.
When the souls of Azarath had possessed him, their healing powers had somehow restored his voice box - but in this body they were severed again, rendering Joseph mute once more.
He headed down to the gym, hoping he would be lucky enough to find it empty; if not then Starfire, Cyborg, Beast Boy or Raven would want to talk to him. And he had no idea what the new Titans thought of him. He barely knew them, yet he'd already hurt them. While possessing his father, he had tried to put an end to the Teen Titans in a twisted attempt to stop them from getting hurt like he had.
Luck wasn't with him today, he could hear someone training even as he opened the door.
The white-haired heroine lowered her swords and turned to look at him as the door opened, a smug smile playing across her face.
"Come to train, Joey? I was always told you didn't like fighting."
He stopped in the doorway, not sure whether he wanted to talk to her, but it was too late to leave now.
He didn't mind spending time with Rose so much: at least she could understand what he was going through more than the others. Having Deathstroke for a father had been hard on both of them. Joey had always loved his father, even if he didn't like him sometimes. Slade had always tried to keep Joey out of his work, scared that he would turn out like Grant.
But their dad had been insane when Rose had worked with him; he'd driven his daughter insane by injecting her full of the same toxins that had changed him into Deathstroke. He drove her to the point of madness where she gouged out her own eye to prove that she was just like him. She'd attacked the Titans under his orders.
Rose could definitely understand better than the others.
"Well, come on then… show me what you've got, Bro!"
Joey smiled, stepping up to the challenge.
Armed or unarmed?
"Sorry, Joe. You know I can't understand sign language - yet." She grinned, throwing him one of her swords. "Just to even it out. I trust you can use one of these."
He easily caught the sword, but just stared at it for a few seconds before swinging it around a few times to get used to the weight. He'd never liked blades; ever since his throat was slit as a kid he'd been edgy around them. He'd only ever used weapons as a last resort, but since his resurrection he didn't feel as placid.
He looked up from the sword to his sister and nodded, signaling that he was ready.
Before he knew what was happening, she was bringing her sword down in front of him. He barely had time to block her attack before she tried to sweep his legs out from under him. He went down but rolled backwards, away from her next attack.
"Come on Joe, you can do better than that!"
She continued her assault and he continued his defense, but he barely struck out at her.
"Slade was right: you're not much of a fighter, are you Joe?"
Vertical swing - blocked. Round house kick - blocked. Uppercut - blocked. Rose feigned a strike to his left and swung to the right. He easily blocked her and managed to throw the sword from her hand. She hardly had time to register what was happening before she found herself laid on the floor looking up at her brother, who was stabbing downwards with his sword - stopping just above her heart. He smirked, moving the sword away from her and offering her a hand up.
They both turned towards the open doorway where someone had started clapping.
The rest of the Titans were standing in the doorway, they'd obviously seen the whole thing. Robin was the one clapping.
"Wow, just… Wow. Guess we all know not to mess with the Wilson kids, huh guys?" Beast Boy laughed.
Kid Devil was grinning from ear to ear. "Hot damn! Never seen Rose take a beating like that."
"That's because Jericho was fighting with a strategy." Tim grinned. "He purposely didn't fight back so he could get an idea of how she fights. Revenger usually strikes to her left, so he knew that her right blow was a feint and countered it, then used her surprise to get the better of her."
"I have never seen Joseph act so violently." Raven commented, a look of obvious concern on her face.
Joey collected Rose's swords and passed them both back to her. He began to sign something, but his hands moved too fast for her to even guess what he was saying.
"He said he can tell you were trained by your dad," Cyborg translated.
Roses eyes narrowed at her brother. He nodded, his expression was unreadable.
"You're trying to say that you're any different?" Rose asked. There was a barely-concealed edge to her voice.
Joey smiled and shook his head.
Deathstroke is a good fighter.
"You're a little strange, Joey. You know that?"
Joey grinned. He defiantly liked having Rose for a sister, even if she was a little weird herself.
There was an awkward silence for half a minute or so before Tim spoke up.
"We were about to start group training, but since you two started early…"
"Nah, I still got plenty of fight left in me. What about you, Joe?"
"War games sound like an excellent idea!" Starfire exclaimed. "Victor, you take one team and I take the other?" The questioning tone in her voice made the command more of a suggestion. Starfire was like that, never wanting to hurt anyone's feelings or go against their wishes if she could help it.
"Nah, I think Tim and Cas should pick teams." Cyborg said, looking over the current team. Dick and Donna had always led the team, and the new Robin and Wonder Girl seemed to be following their example.
"I say we have a good old boys versus girls. How about it, Tim?" Cassie smirked at the current leader.
"Sounds good to me. But how about we make this interesting, and have the whole island as the battle ground?" Tim agreed.
"If you're gonna do that, I'll play ref in the comms room… And bedrooms are off-limits!" Cyborg added.
"All right. Boys, I'll give you a different frequency on your Titans' communicators so you can stay in touch."
"I'll do the same with the girls. Ten minutes?" Tim nodded and Raven, Starfire, Wonder Girl and Revenger left the gym to discuss techniques.
Cyborg left for the comms room. Robin, Kid Devil and Beast Boy instantly broke into discussion, deciding the best way to find the girls.
Jericho stayed quiet. He'd always been good at war games with the old team, they had once all teamed up against him and he still managed to escape them. But that was a long time ago, he had no idea how he'd fare against the new members.
So much has changed.
He didn't feel like an artist any more. He didn't know what he was, only that he was different. The artist known Joseph Wilson had died years ago, but Jericho was back, and he had changed. He may not be the placid hero he once was, and maybe he wasn't the peacekeeper any more, but he didn't mind. He was home again with his family - the Teen Titans.