District Ten was taunting in the same way that District Seven had been, except mildly worse for the simple fact that he was only a few days away from getting home. The tributes were haunting, too, but in a different way than what he would like to think about. Siblings... it had been a fear that he and Viola had been afraid of encountering only a short time ago, when Balthazar was smaller and they were both able to be reaped. It was a real fear for those two tributes, though, and he almost felt guilty, in a way, after seeing the footage that showed him escaping a battle where one of them did not survive.
Somehow, though, it was hard to feel guilty when he knew not only that he would have died if he had helped them, but also that any efforts that he made to help them would have been futile in the end. He was useful to himself and nobody else in those Games. Maybe he wasn't a Career, but he was as good as a murderer by any other name.
District Eleven wasn't so torturous, although it did feel strange looking out at the people below. So many times, they had tributes get far lately - or else they had tributes get higher scores and seem almost hopeful if they happened to get lucky enough. Or, like this time, they had one end up with a donated weapon just as Balthazar had been... And then they had died, fallen to Careers year after year after year.
Balthazar for his part was thankful as he boarded the train one last time. He was moving like a ghost for the next day and then still upon stepping off and being led to this one, final ceremony at home.
The Justice Building was a lonely, sobering experience. He fought back tears as he curled into an overlarge armchair that could well have acted as a bed if Bal was so inclined to fall asleep. What was any of it worth if he was left alone in the end?
No, not really, but he still clung to the tiny hope that Viola was still around. Snow had not said a single word about her death, so she had to be alive, but hiding.
He forced himself up from the chair and eventually was led out to the district square to give him speech.
The air crackled with a kind of infectious excitement. District Twelve, normally simply somber and quietly accepting of the fate of their tribute, was overjoyed at his victory. For some short months, they would get some food to fill their stomachs. Some of the more... hopeful ones might think that because he won when all odds were against him, perhaps Azalea and he could bring more of their children home.
Balthazar didn't think this, but he didn't say a word about it in his speech. He merely gave it in the same shy, almost quiet tone that he was giving these speeches. There were moments, mere moments, where he did smile towards the crowd, who were loud and almost raucous in their sheer happiness. It made it hard to get through the speech, as the mixture of shouts and calls made it more like an uphill battle comparable to the Games themselves, except less bloody and more energizing.
There was, for him, a lot of regret. He had not killed many in the arena. He had only been a quiet, silent boy who had gone unnoticed to all the other tributes. He was the unexpected and, in more than a few cases, unwanted victor. But he was still a murderer with blood on his hands that he could not see, but also could not wash away no matter how much water and soap he used. Blood from those that he could have helped and did not. Blood from those that he did kill without mercy at his beck and call, when one would think he, of all of the last tributes, might have a little. Desperation and emotion had clouded him enough - just enough that he could come home.
He would like to think that he was better than the Career Victors and the Careers themselves, but he wasn't. He was like every other Victor alive. He was alive because, as unexpected and unwanted he might have been, he was deadly and dangerous. Anyone who survived was always deadly and dangerous.
And so he fought back the tears of his own loss and smiled his small, quaint, broken smile towards the dust-covered citizens of District Twelve. They were more joyous in his Victory than he could ever be, but he could not bring himself to take it away from them. They deserved it, even if he never did.