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The Prince and the Artist

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It would take two weeks to return to earth. And in that two weeks they would be living on a spaceship with a small crew of beautiful alien's, a view of the stars, and Prince Ryand’r, Kory's brother who had volunteered to take them home.

Dick had shut himself away from everyone. Even his friend and teammate couldn't get through to him when he was like this. The young titans leader needed time to himself, to reflect upon everything that had happened, to come to terms with leaving Kory behind with her husband. While on Tamaran he had celebrated his twentieth birthday, he wasn't a child anymore, not even a teenager, he needed to deal with this by himself.

And so Joey stood alone, on an alien ship, staring out into the vastness of space, and reflected on life as well. Though he tried to think of the better things, not of the loss of a good friend, but of better times to come. His was the soul of an artist. Someone who feels and understands the pain and beauty of emotions and the world around him. He's cried for his friend, but he knows he cannot help him right now, this is something Dick Grayson needed to come to terms with alone.

He is Joseph William Wilson, son of a mercenary and a government agent, and he couldn't help but be in awe at where his life had led him. Never in his wildest dreams did he think he could be stood here, staring out into space, trying to memorise the beauty that he could never be able to recreate with his art alone.

“Is he going to be ok?”

Joey didn't need to turn, he recognised the voice of the young prince straight away. But unable to put it into words, even if he could speak, he just sighs at the question. He doesn't know if even Dick himself knows if he's going on be okay.

“I'm sorry. I had really hoped that something would have happened. If Komand’r had attacked only a few moments before…” But he trails off. His sweet sister had married in vain, she was wed to bring peace, only moments before their planet was thrown into war. “My sister is still in love with him. I don't think time is going to change that.”

Joseph turned to look at the prince with a sad smile. He knew. Koriand’r and Dick Grayson had been in love before he met them, and he knew that love like that didn't die, it never faded from your heart, even if it hurts. His hands came up to sign the words.

I know. He loves her too

“Does he? He doesn't seem to understand that she hated the arrangement as much as he did.” Ryan understood, but Dick didn't seem to understand the pain his sister had gone through, trying to make him understand that her heart didn't belong to her husband.

Hurt

“And what about you? You are my sisters friend as well. How do you feel about all this?” Everyone had been so focused on the wedding, and on the titans leader, but no one had asked how the silent blond boy felt, watching two of his friends fighting, leaving one behind possibly forever.

Joey shrugs his shoulders, his eyes returning to void of space through the glass wall of the ship, he hasn't been able to focus on his own feelings either. He was the peaceful one, the one who helped his friends when they were hurting, supported them through their pain. He hadn't put aside the time to focus on his own feelings.

I know how it feels to lose someone you love

His situation was different. He knew now that Penny had been using him, that their love was a lie for her. But to him, he had been deeply in love, engaged even, to someone he thought loved him the same way. He had mourned, fallen into depression, wished nothing but to fade away and not face the world without her. He understood the pains his friend was going through in silence.

Prince Ryand’r could understand, even if he could only understand a handful of sign language. It was clear on the mutants face, in those warn green eyes that spoke of pain and empathy. Joseph Wilson knows pain, but he carried on, tried to help others overcome their own, and took comfort in doing what was best for his friends.

“It's going to take time to get back to earth. I hope in that time the two of us can become friends.” Ryan could see that it wasn't going to be a pleasant trip. After what happened on Tamaran there was too much to think about, to mourn over. But with Dick sulking on his own, Ryan felt for the young mute. With the only other earthlings on the ship locking himself away, Joseph must feel so lonely out here in space, so far from home. “I found some more earth tapes. Ones that have people talking with their hands like you. Hopefully I can learn quickly so we can talk easier.”

That caught Joey by surprise, turning to look at Ryan once more. It was a friendly gesture, learning sign language to communicate with him better. But it felt different than when his friends had learnt for him. His friends needed to understand him, but the prince of Tamaran might never use it again after these two weeks, and it wasn't important for him to understand everything. Ryan actually wanted to get to know Joseph Wilson, to understand him as a friend.

Thank you

“You don't need to thank me. I'm always happy to learn something new. Especially when it involves making a new friend.” The smile on Joey's face must have shown his gratitude and surprise, because Ryand’r laughed before giving his own warm smile back.

“I must admit, I have envied my sister. Getting to live on earth. It seems like such an interesting planet. If we have time, I would love to visit your world. Perhaps you could give me a tour, as I did on Tamaran?”

Joseph nodded his head without hesitation. Yes . In the few quiet moments they had on Tamaran, he had explored their culture, learnt some of their ways and how different life on another planet was from earth. Part of him hadn't wanted to leave the tropical paradise, but they couldn't do anything for them anymore. The war wasn't theirs to fight, it was a matter of royalty and civil war, family fighting family. It wasn't their place to get involved with their politics.

But back on earth, they didn't know if there was peace, or still a war. When they left the universe was in a crisis. The earth was ground zero, where matter and antimatter fought to destroy everything. The fact that Tamaran had not disappeared, that the universe continued to exist after at least two month of them being away, gave them hope that there would be a better world to return to.

I hope everyone was okay without us

Dick Grayson might be too wrapped up in his own personal problems to think about it, but it was all Joey could do to worry about the world they left behind. Were their friends safe? Had his family been involved or stayed out of it? He had no idea who or what he was going to return to, he didn't know if the titans would still be intact. The Titans had accepted him despite who his father was, they had become like family to him, but he knew that they might not stay together forever.

Dick and Kory just reminded him that all things had to end eventually, and with the crisis, losing Starfire, Nightwing too hurt to function rationally as their leader, as well as whatever the others had been up to in their absence. He had to wonder if their team would survive, and hope that their friendship wouldn't die along with the titans.

There was a deafening silence in the air, neither of them knowing what was happening with the crisis. There had already been casualties when they had left, a memorial service for super girl who died saving them all, how many others would have fallen by the time they arrived back on earth?

Ryand’r was the one to break the silence.

“With everything that happened, I never got the chance to ask you. Do you have someone special? Someone who will be waiting for you when you get back?” Ryan’s voice was soft, curious but cautious. With the relationship problems that they were all dealing with, he knew it could be a very sensitive subject to bring up.

Yes

He didn't think twice about it before answering. His thoughts went first to Kole. The girl he loved, but not in the way she wanted him to. She'd moved in with him and his mother, shared his bed when she would have nightmares, pose for paintings for him. He knew that she loved him as more than a friend, but he'd made it clear that he didn't feel that way about her. He loved her, but in the same way as he loved Donna and Kory, he loved her like a sister. She would be waiting for him, with his mother, maybe even his father would come to see him. He had friends and family waiting for him.

Family

“Of course. Your love is for your family.” Ryand’r had heard a little about Joey from Kory, she said how open and caring he was, how he fought with his heart and cherished life and his emotions. “You are a good man Joey. I'm sure someday you will make someone very happy.”

Joey nodded. But he didn't have anything to say about that. He had girls that he'd see, occasionally had spent nights with. But he didn't date them, never considered them as girlfriends, or himself as anyone's boyfriend. The last girl he had promised himself to had broken his heart too badly for him to open himself up like that again. Maybe one day he would meet someone to change that, but for now he had to be free to live for himself, he loved his friends and family, that was enough for him for now.

The silence that fell over them was a comfortable one this time. Both just sharing the view of the vastness of space. Wondering just how these two weeks of space travel would pass, and what was waiting for them when they returned to their home planets. Two weeks of calm before the storm.