Victor just stood there a while, statue-like. “I didn’t know what to do” he said after a while, voice thick. “If I went after her I thought it would only … make things worse. ‘s why I left the apartment at night. So if she came back… she didn’t have to deal…with me.”
He sank down, sitting, defeated, on the tile floor. “I never stopped thinking about her… I don’t sleep much. I’d wander around the house and think to myself, is she home? Is she okay?” He pulled his legs to his chest and rested his forehead on his knees. “But she wasn’t. She never considered I could love more than one person, that i could… I could still be her family…”
He shook his head. “Life was so much easier when I was murdering people. I didn’t have these lousy fucking emotions complicating everything. Hell, I think she liked me better back then, too.” The ex serial killer laughed a pained laugh.
Okay, ex-Boy Wonder. You still have things to do.
Don’t overthink, and don’t give any of your advice - what do you know, anyway?
Nothing! Not enough. Never enough. And here he thought he was supposed to help people.
Popping out the plastic evidence bag and carefully seizing the half-frozen, bloodied heart from the shelf, he’d chuck it inside the container and seal it, putting it to the side.
“Easier, but not necessarily better… look, Victor, don’t just sit there. I know it hurts, but—get some fresh air, basically. It’s going to smell here anyway while I, well, clean up.”
And at least find the elusive bird’s approximate whereabouts.
She would not stay in solitude of own mind and birds for long. Question was who she’d turn to.
Question he had no answer to, yet. A riddle.
Victor nodded mutely and padded back to what had once been his room. Everything felt hazy. Out of focus. Like this was just a fucked up nightmare. He found paper and pen and started writing something. He was shaking still, so it took a few tries to get a legible word printed.
The blond re-entered and mutely set the note on the table by the window.
“… birds’ll find it. I guess.”
Tira was his family. And she was making it clear she didn’t feel the same way.
His eyes burned with tears.
Either the blond had a very different idea of what a family was as opposed to her own perception, or… No, no, he did not know that. He did not see into their minds, their thoughts, nor what had exactly happened.
Tira was, and he had to use the word carefully, damaged. More so than Victor - her strife ran deeper than his. It always did, and it would never leave, never go away.
Which, in turn, had made her involuntary dependent and posessive of what little she already had.
Perhaps, losing it to somebody else - losing all attention, becoming the one out of focus, and then realising no efforts were made to actually look for her before - was just too much.
That was never a good thing for somebody with more than enough issues of trust. Tim honestly had no clue if it could be salvaged.
“Sorry. That was.. terrible news,” he uttered as calmly as he could. “I’ll clean the fridge out.”
And analyse the heart. Was he ought to look for a heartless corpse somewhere, or not.
Victor turned back to the sink and threw up. He just wasn’t used to gore anymore, and this…
He washed the sink and his mouth out as best he could. White knuckled he held onto the counter. The fridge was still open. He could smell the blood.
“S-she’s … Blaming me. I broke her h… heart.”
Never would he have imagined to see this particular man throw up at the sight of gore. Tim himself was pretty used to the gruesome sight, such was the nature of this city - prepared for anything. He’d still flinched, gulping down own nausea and slowly stepping forward, kneeling in front of the fridge. Talon marks scraped the surface of the shelf, and the heart looked to have been handled without much care.
If anything ever was with her, unless it was a newborn bird hatchling.
Tim glanced up to the - pale as death - man, and though his expression was half concealed by the cowl, it was sympathetic.
Stupid, stupid birdboy. Should of thought this through earlier. Should of… what?
There was no predicting what another felt.
“You need to contact her,” he finally mustered after a while of sitting there before the fridge, almost used to the blood’s scent. “…with anything. Leave a letter here. They’ll find it.”
There’s not much you can do.
“You can’t leave it like… this.”
Not that letter would change it.
If there was any color left in Victor’s face, it was gone now. He turned around at looked at the refrigerator as though it were something sinister, something evil.
he opened it.
Staying a couple of feet back - for no particular reason save for, perhaps, lack of desire to actually find out what was in there - Tim squinted.
And held back a heavy sigh, averting his gaze.
On the lonely, long empty middle shelf, lay a heart. It looked to be placed there fairly recently - and unlikely purchased from a butcher. No, it looked to have been ripped out, lying there in a small pool of frozen thick blood, some dripping down the walls.
And right in the center of it, there was a huge hole, clotted with blood but otherwise, clearly going through the whole muscle.
There was somewhat of a note by the side of it - a scrap piece of paper with a scribble.
With just one word.
Way to be vague.
Victor ran his hands through his hair and kept them there, tangling his fingers in the unbrushed mess. Pulling just enough to inflict pain. You never thought about her once, did you? his mind hissed at him. This poor little girl you called sister, you threw her away. This is your fault. Her life would be far better had it not been for your interference.
She hates you.
She hates what you’ve become.
So do you.
Victor rose and went to the kitchen. He got a glass of tap water and drank it down. His hands shook. “Did… she say where it would be?”
One would figure that Victor probably did not need any further details on what had happened, or, rather, what the girl that was - or is - his sister had let happen to her.
Apathetic. Careless. Somebody of her skill, of her expertise with life of a wanderer would navigate their way around Gotham just fine.
No, she let herself starve. As if punishing herself for something - or simply not caring.
At that moment, he really doubted if the injuries he’d noticed were from a conflict, and not deliberate torture. And it stung, it really did - Tim himself had felt horribly helpless, rejected, possibly thought of as some kind of traitor for tracking her down through such means.
He should have been better at looking after the Thrush. Victor was not the only one consumed by guilt at this moment.
“No,” he uttered in a low voice, wrapping his cape around himself. “Just had hinted it’d have to be kept ‘fresh’.”
It probably wasn’t pretty.
“Check the fridge.”
“I knew about the birds. A friend of mine leaves meat for them. She, ah, picks locks” he added. He spent a quiet moment looking around what had once been his home. Now he just kept up the bills on it in the dwindling hope that his adopted sister would return.
“Where is she?”
Did nobody use keys in this city anymore? Letting this pass without a witty comment, no matter how annoyingly it festered on his tongue, Drake just scrunched his nose and averted his look to one of the slightly stained windows.
“Wandering. She never settled anywhere.”
Despite having an offered shelter, kept in a living condition all those weeks - or however long - the absent Thrush just refused to go back in there.
Result? Possibly sleeping in the alleys. On the trees. Maybe in abandoned apartments, but never staying in one place.
At least, until recently.
“She had figured out we’ve—okay, I’ve—been tracking her down. Long story short, I did find her.” She lured me into a dead end. “And was promptly told to piss off.” She had a hostage at blade’s edge simply to make me leave her alone. “And she’d fled afterwards.” She left me to deal with a traumatised, but alive victim while making her escape.
“I won’t sugarcoat anything, Victor. She looked terrible. Malnourished, thin, and by the looks of things, strained by an injury - from what I had gathered.”
There was a pause. A short, somewhat uncertain pause, as Red Robin’s eyes had narrowed under the white lenses.
”She said there’d be a message for you in here. Just before fleeing.”
Victor jiggled the key in the lock and swung the door open. “First time I’ve invited one of you masked types into a living place of mine…” he muttered. He stalked inside and flipped lights on. It wasn’t a big place, but it was livable The air inside the apartment had that stale feel, which made sense considering it was mostly unoccupied now. Still, Victor went past the living room to the bedrooms to see if, just maybe, Tira was in her room. No such luck. The lanky blond stalked back down the hallway and plopped down on the worn sofa.
Not saying one off-topic word, not even a remark about the living space apart from a quiet, pondering humm, Red Robin slowly paced up and down the medium-sized living room. Gliding a finger clad in the black glove over the surface of a table, noting the thickness of the dust’s layer, he quietly concluded something to himself, stepping into the kitchen with a quick, observant glance around it.
Well, the talon and beak marks on the half-closed window were an indication enough. Tira herself had not been here - but her birds have, indeed.
“She makes her ravens check up on here. Or, at the very least, grab food from the kitchen,” he announced upon returning to the living room, standing behind the sofa with his arms crossed. “But to the point… I did find her.”
Victor was still wary of the masked crowd. They’d caused him too much pain in his criminal days. Just the sight of the Red Robin makes his middle ache where another one of the Bat’s birds had nearly succeeded in slicing his guts out. He tried not to think about it as he came up the hallway. “Hey.” Normal enough greeting right? He fished a keyring out of his coat pocket and flipped a few keys before finding the scratched-up one that went to the apartment. “You want to come in? I don’t really feel like having what will probably be bad news go on in the hallway.”
Funny how the very bird inflicting such damage upon the scarred former criminal was hardly one of Tim’s favourites. No, he wouldn’t even sugarcoat it. Damian was a little brat.
Not that Victor needed to know such personal family issues, of course. They weren’t here to bond over a strife with the same individual, after all.
“Not necessarily bad… but that’d be ideal. I wanted to come in either way - breaking in would just be rude.”
Trying a little smile at Victor, he nodded over to the door.
“If you please?”
There was something sinister about this building, something so quiet, so calm, it had actually seemed suspicious.
Or perhaps, it was just the hour, and the fact that this floor was unoccupied.
Whatever the case, the avian vigilante in red and black already was at the location, leaning against the wall next to the door of the former flat that not just one, but two killers - one former, one seemingly active - had occupied.
Tim’d had no time for guilty conscience, no time to overthink the logical course of action when it came to somebody so dangerous. No, he was here just to deliver the information he dug out.
And, perhaps, take a look in the flat. He’d break in, but deemed it inappropriate due to having a much easier, direct access.
Stepping out from the wall upon hearing footsteps (tucking the phone back into the belt pocket - he gave a short nod to the approaching blond.