to live and die in liberty city @hoverbun
welcome to liberty city crossposted from ao3! this is the result of years of work written by a friend of mine *& i. while i will be crossposting the whole work from archiveofourown, i intend to rewrite it to bring it up to a personal standard of my own. that is why i am currently marking it as "slow updates". if you wish to read the entire work in its current iteration, please read it here: https://archiveofourown.org/works/13347588

Liberty City is an empire of concrete skyscrapers within the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The sun kisses the buildings of capital, and does not reach the roads beneath their monolith prisons. Even on bright summer days, only a shadow casts down across the streets and cars, darkening the city centre, and roll over the rooftops.

You're not allowed to smoke too close to the airport doors - but even at the peak of midday, Tatsuya Suou doesn't spot a single security officer at this kiss-and-ride by Francis International. He holds the cigarette between his lips to fish for a lighter, and soon lights it - inside his chest, over his shoulders, he can feel the weight of travel burden down on him, exhaustion pulling at his bones, and heart, and lungs; like the promise of a long night's sleep cresting a hazy, clouded horizon.

Or maybe, it's just the urge to smoke. Maybe both?

He hasn't had a cigarette in over six hours since embarking from Los Santos, departing from his Dryft and hiding himself in the shadow of the smoker's area of Los Santos International Airport. In Liberty City, he has a moment of privacy to indulge among the hum of airport activity, cars that pass and people that chatter. Pulling his luggage with him, Tatsuya soon leans against a stone pillar, its front lit with an advertisement of a west coast pop starlet he distantly remember seeing on the west coast.

He's not well knowledged on the rise of pop and celebrity culture. Though he's known the glamour of Liberty City for ten long years, the excitement of concerts, starlets, secret parties and movies are best left in his highschool years. Living in Liberty City dulls you of its beauty - pushing past the city's square into the boroughs, it only leaves a mystery.

Without the beauty, that mystery starts to look a little bit more like a threat than it does an adventure.

He tries not to think about it.

A familiar red Dilettante rolls into his vision. As it pulls up next to him and comes to a stop, Tatsuya puts the cigarette between his teeth and pulls his luggage forward, off the pillar and to the back seat of the car. Pulling open the door, he pushes his bag into the back seat as his brother turns around.

"It's good to see you," Katsuya says, with half of a grin on his face. The smoke rises in his face, and it clouds Tatsuya's vision. "Tired yet?"

"All day," Tatsuya replies, closing the rear door to climb into the passenger's seat. Katsuya starts driving as Tatsuya closes his door, pulls his seatbelt on, and takes his cigarette to hang it out the window. "Been up since six."

"Give yourself a couple of hours to see if jet lag kicks in." Without missing a beat, Katsuya merges into the fleet of cars, while leaning towards Tatsuya, his arm reaching for the cigarette that begins to move towards his mouth. Tatsuya smacks his hand away. "Don't smoke in my car."

"I couldn't smoke on the ride in Los Santos," he grumbles, leaning further away. "Let me have one."

"Did you smoke inside the airport, too?"

"Of course not-"

"You're not supposed to smoke in there, Tatsuya. When are you going to make the effort to quit?"

"When I'm not on six hour flights from Los Santos to Liberty City.” Tatsuya leans himself farther out the window, the roll of smoke and city breeze rustling his hair. “Visiting our elderly father alone."

Katsuya pulls a tight frown when Tatsuya taps ash out the window, looking back at the road. "You know I wanted to come with you. With work-"

"It's whatever," Tatsuya responds immediately, "Dad knows."

A Turismo going uncharacteristically slow sits in front of them, waiting to be passed. Katsuya visibly suffocates on the silence, stemmed only by the hiss of burning paper, and speaks to break it.

"It’s been busy while you were gone." He passes the vehicle, pulling forward to one of the many intersections of Dukes Boulevard.

“It’s only been a week or so. Can’t imagine what kind of surprise you have for me.”

“Does an arrest for public intoxication interest you?”

“Try a little harder.”

"I met a friend of yours in questioning a few days ago."

"Eikichi?" Tatsuya tries, which makes his brother laugh.

"No. It was Naoya Toudou."

"I thought he moved off to Florida," Tatsuya says, turning his head and unconsciously sitting up in his seat.

"Must've come back. Shiori was questioning him about the Chris situation. Thought he might know something, with the company he's been keeping."

When the city seemed a lot smaller and their problems were a lot more pettier - Naoya Toudou was there. He came after Eikichi and Lisa, but he mattered just as much as them.

Tatsuya leans against the car door. "Haven't heard from him for ages, Kats."

"Then it might be a little unethical," Katsuya continues, "but maybe you could call him up and get him to talk about what Shiori couldn't crack out of him."

"I doubt he's involved," Tatsuya muses, throwing the cigarette out the window.

"You never know, Tatsuya," Katsuya replies, as the first arch of the Algonquin Bridge shadows the roof of the car. "You always have to anticipate the worst sometimes."


 

The bed he slept on in his hotel in Los Santos was a lot more soft than his bed at home. And Tatsuya hated it.

His luggage bag is a black plastic-cased carrier with a week's clothes, his phone charger, and a pamphlet passed to him from one of the many street preachers he couldn't push away when he took a day to himself to walk the Del Perro Pier. He nudges it close to his mattress and sits down next to it, the firmness a welcome weight to lower himself down on. His back stretches against it, and he sighs something content, phone now out of his pocket and held above his face.

Katsuya opens his door, keeping in the doorway while checking whatever text he got on his day off.

"Are you going to be going out at all?"

"I'm supposed to be going somewhere?" Tatsuya turns his head towards his brother, stretching a leg up to his bed to try and make a point.

"You're out of Redwoods, so I thought you’d be on your way out." There's a hint of a sigh with how Katsuya speaks, and he pockets his iFruit quietly. "Tomorrow, I want you to go find your friend and talk to him. He'll listen to you a lot more than someone like me."

"And this guy - Chris?" Tatsuya makes no effort to move from his bed.

The more he lays there, the more his brother watches him, all stiff shoulder and suit half-pressed in the doorway - the more the two of them roll back, back to when Tatsuya was eighteen and Katsuya dragged him home from high school to complain about something in the doorway. Juvenile.

"We haven't gotten his real name yet. It's his street name. We know he's Japanese, thirty at the most, seems to have a bit of a hold in Broker." Katsuya leans in the doorframe. "Are you going to get up? You look like a teenager home from school...

The silence that catches them makes Tatsuya almost believe he's walked away until he speaks, and he's surprised enough that he looks up at Katsuya.

"Your bike’s still in parking." The shuffle of Katsuya's feet down their apartment's carpet hallway.

Tatsuya sighs, and rolls to his side. He swings his feet off his bed and paths through the doorway, closing it behind him.

He thinks about the way Katsuya forces himself to stand a little taller when he's irritated, and cuts his hair like their father. He thinks about the last solo Suou brother excursion to visit their incarcerated father, and how Katsuya came back with a sunburn and a written letter from their father about how sad he was Tatsuya had to work.

He thinks about smoking Redwoods on a beach in Florida.

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