Will wakes up to his boyfriend- no, husband shaking him awake, which was a rare occasion. Will grumbles, trying his best to bury himself back into the covers. He was tired. Shadow traveling always drained him, something about a son of Apollo traveling through the darkness. It didn’t do good things to his body.
“C’mon, Will. We’re on our honeymoon. We’re not spending the entire thing in bed.” Will opens his eyes, rolling over. Nico’s already dressed and ready to go. Will pulls Nico down to kiss him, having half a mind to convince Nico to spend just one more day in bed. “Nope,” Nico says. “You’re getting out of bed today.”
Will gets in one more kiss before Nico’s pulling the sheets off of the bed. Will grumbles some more, but he gets dressed. It’s spring wherever they are, but it’s still colder than Will would like it to be. Nico smiles at him, pulling him out onto the streets.
“Welcome to Russia, sunshine.” Will takes in the sights of Russia. He’s never done much traveling, always stuck at camp mostly. This is his first time out fo the country, and he’s already overwhelmed. There are so many people, so many things to look at. It’s nothing like he imagined because he isn’t sure he could have ever imagined something like this. He could almost convince himself that he was back in America if it weren’t for the unfamiliar language and smells around him.
“Have you ever been here before?” Will asks.
“Nope,” Nico says. “Father recommended it.” Will nods. Nico had taken care of all of the planning. Will wanted to help, but Nico wanted to surprise him. Will had eventually stepped back and let Nico sort out the traveling, the destinations, the expense. He was already busy trying to catch extra hours so he could take enough time off.
“So, where are we going?”
Nico shrugs. “Figured we could just walk around a little bit. The Red Square is a must. Every travel book says we should go there.”
Will nods. He and Nico walk down the sidewalk, their eyes everywhere. They pass open supermarkets and look at the food. Will can only guess what everything is. With his dyslexia, reading English can be hard. Russian isn’t any better. They continue down the sidewalk. There are people on their way to work, grocery shopping, talking on the phone.
“I really like the architecture,” Nico says. “It feels old but also not.” Will nods. He wonders if part of the feeling is because they’re descendants of Greek gods. They’ve been surrounded by Greek architecture and artifacts their whole lives. Walking around in old cities wasn’t something new.
“That’s a museum over there. And there’s a church.” Nico pointed out a few more sights. “It’s a lot to take in. We don’t have to do it all today. Or all on this trip.” Will nods. He thinks he could spend forever just in Moscow, though he knows Nico’s planned a few other places to visit. They only have a week, but he’d love to come back and tour Moscow more.
“How about we each pick one or two things,” Will suggests. Nico nods. They consult the travel book. Will smiles thinking that they must really look like tourists, hunched over a book, glancing at all of the signs. “That looks like a fun place to just kind of hang out. We could go there for lunch or something.”
“We’ve got two days here,” Nico says. “So, we could do lunch or dinner here today. Lunch there tomorrow. If you wanted a souvenir, this could be a good place.” He smiles. “I feel like we’re missing so much, but we don’t have a lot of time.”
Will laughs. He feels the same way. “Well, guess we’ll just have to come back next year or something. Like, for each of our anniversaries, we could go somewhere.” Nico smiles. They decide on a few things to do, marking them in the book and on the map. Then they start heading to the Red Square.
“What’s a Kremlin?” Will asks. He says the word slowly, making sure he’s saying it right.
“Like a citadel or fortress,” Nico says. “They’ve got them all over.” They navigate the streets with all of the finesse of a baby taking its first steps. Nico’s better with direction, but being in a new city can be disorienting. “Wait. I think I see it over there.”
Will follows quickly, catching his breath when he finally stops in front of the looming red castle-looking structure. Will just stands there, not sure what the proper etiquette was for being a tourist. Nico takes his hand, nudging Will. “Beautiful, isn’t it?” Will hums.
“So, that’s St. Basil’s Cathedral,” Nico says, pointing to a castle-looking building that looks almost fantastical. Will thought it looked like a building straight from a storybook. The colors were so beautiful, and the architecture was amazing. He was sure Annabeth would have loved to see this in person. He snaps a picture of it, hoping that the photo will do it justice.
“And that’s a giant cemetery,” Nico adds. “And there’s the Lenin Mausoleum.” Will freezes at that. He hadn’t planned on seeing any dead bodies today. “We don’t have to visit him, if you don’t want to. There are a ton of other things to see here.”
Will nods. They walk around, careful not to photobomb any of the other tourists. Nico points out what they’re looking at, attempting to summarize the significance of the statues, the architecture, the location. Will can’t believe that there’s so much history in just this one square. Red Square feels like a completely different world.
They stay there until their stomachs are growling. Nico laughs, patting Will’s tummy.
“Don’t worry, little tummy. We’ll get you some food.” Will rolls his eyes. His legs are getting tired of walking, but he can’t make himself sit down. They’re on precious time.
They arrived on Arbat Street after a short walk. They took a few seconds to catch their breaths before diving into the crowd. It was clear that this was a popular street as it was crowded. There were so many shops and tourists and vendors. Will kept one eye on their bags, the other everywhere else. Nico was doing the same.
They get some food, eating it carefully as they continue down the street. Will gets his mother a Russian doll, marveling at the intricate detail on the tiniest of dolls faces. It’s late afternoon now, and Will’s definitely tired. Nico also seems to be wearing down.
“Hard to believe that we’re walking on history,” Will says. “It all feels so surreal to be here.”
“Yeah. Hard to imagine something older than I am,” he jokes. Will rolls his eyes.
“You may be an old man, but you’re definitely considered young in this city.” Nico laughs. “Let’s find a place to sit down. I think I’m spilling food on myself.”
They find a bench to sit down on. Will feels like the muscles in his legs have disappeared. He’s never had to walk so much in one day. He’s less embarrassed when he sees that Nico also seems exhausted. They spend a few moments just watching the people of Russia, trying to pick out the tourist from the local.
“That guy is definitely a tourist,” Will says. “Look, he’s got a map hanging out of his pocket, and he’s wearing socks with sandals.” Nico laughs. The guy keeps looking at his map to the buildings around him. He tries to ask a few people, but no one seems to understand him.
“I’d help him, but I don’t know what he’s speaking,” Nico says. “The Russian language is so complicated.”
Will nods. It was hard to imagine growing up and just knowing this language, but he supposes the same happened with English for him. They head back to their hotel, intent on crashing the moment their bodies hit the blankets.
Evening found them at the Patriarchal Bridge. The sun has set, and the lights have come on. Will’s hand is in Nico’s. Will loved the reflection of the lights on the water. It made everything feel so magical and dreamy.
“You’re a romantic,” Will teases.
Nico blushes in the faint light. The lights seem to make him glow. He’s definitely gained his complexion back, deepening more with camp activities and training.
“Not any more than you, Will.” Will shrugs. He knows he’s a romantic, but he likes that his husband is as well. He’d always known Nico was cute and sweet, but it had only been in the past few years that Nico had started to show it to others. Which made Will just a bit jealous, but he reasoned that was what happened when you fell in love.
“It just makes everything feel so timeless, I guess,” Will says. “That we’re only here for a little bit, but this will be here forever.” Nico smiles.
“You’re going to give me an existential crisis if you keep that up, sunshine.” Will laughs.
“As if being a demigod hasn’t already given us all one.” It was hard to imagine that once they stepped out of this honeymoon bubble, they’d be right back in the chaos that came with inheriting godly genes. But right now all of that felt so far away.
“Hungry?” Will nods. He follows Nico down several streets, all of them just so beautiful. He couldn’t imagine living here, surrounded by so much history. New York had its history, but it wasn’t anything like Moscow.They settle at an outdoor cafe. Will can hardly read a word on the menu, so he lets Nico order. Nico rolls his eyes, saying that he hardly knows any better than Will. Still, they end up with a few dishes, deciding to share them. Unless one of them has a favorite, then they have to fight for the last bite.
There are dumpling-looking things and bread and soup. Will’s glad he doesn’t have any allergies so he can fully appreciate everything. Nico and he don’t talk much while they’re eating, other than to point to something and nod. By the time they’re both full, the plates are cleared of food.
“I love you,” Will whispers once they’ve back on the street. Nico kisses his cheek. “Happy anniversary.”
“This is a honeymoon, Will.” Will just shrugs.
“Yeah, but it’s also an anniversary. This marks the next stage of our lives.”
Nico smiles. “There’s one last place for tonight.” Will starts to ask where, but Nico cuts him off. “It’s a surprise. Come on.” They take their time getting there, passing more history each step of the way.
“Here.” Will frowns. The bridge doesn’t look to be anything special. They’d passed it earlier, and Nico hadn’t said anything. There are a few couples out, looking over the Moscow River. “I’ll show you.”
They walk onto the bridge. It is a nice spot. The air is quiet and familiar. A few of the couples smile at them. They find a spot, leaning against the railing.
“This is the Luzhkov Bridge,” Nico says. “And those are the Trees of Love.” He points to the metallic trees spaced along the bridge. “Newlyweds come here and write their names on a lock. And then they throw the key into the river.”
Will thinks he’s going to cry. He’d always been fascinated by things like this, the Pont des Arts bridge in France, Mount Huang in China, Brooklyn Bridge in New York. He’d never imagined his own lock being one of these thousands.
He chokes on a laugh when he sees Nico on his knees again, presenting a lock to him. “Hurry up, Will. My knees hurt,” Nico whines. Will laughs, taking the lock. Nico produces a Sharpie from his pocket. They write their names on the lock, Will adding a sunshine on the back. Then they lock it to a tree. Will does cry when they throw the lock in the river.
“Forever,” he says. “You’ve just promised yourself to me forever.”
Nico wipes away his tears. “I did that way before this, Will. Just think, one day, I’ll have loved you longer than I haven’t.” Will nods. He wraps Nico in a hug, just wanting to cement this moment into his memory forever. They’ve still got the rest of their lives to make memories, and Will intends to remember every single one of them.