1 Chapter 1

It wasn't supposed to be like this.

Just last week, he was packing with his roommates for the trip. Just last week, everyone was too excited to sleep on the 9+ hour-long plane ride. Just last week, he took the one hour he had to explore the city getting completely lost in the beautiful sights Moscow had to offer.

Last week, he never imagined he had to deal with this.

Matthew woke up in his hotel room earlier than the rest of his class. He looked around at his roommates and grinned to himself. As quietly as he could, he got out of bed and dressed for the warm weather. Putting on his binder, a simple black t-shirt, a flannel jacket, black skinny jeans, Vans, and his signature beanie, the brunette snuck out of the hotel room with his basic belongings. As he walked out the front door he pulled out his phone to text his friend.

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'Hey, where are you?' he asked. A reply came a short moment later.

'A block away. Be there soon.'

A smile etched its way onto his face, accompanied by a pink hue dusting his cheeks. He took a deep breath to calm himself. He wasn't supposed to be doing this. He could get into serious trouble if his teacher caught him. Matthew was a student attending college in Massachusetts. Now a senior, he was able to go on any abroad field trips of his choosing. Of course, as he majored in Russian Language and Literature, he picked Russia as his destination. He knew he'd be visiting Moscow where his dear friend, Ivan, lived and he was excited to meet him in person.

Unfortunately, as he couldn't afford to visit Russia without aid, he had no choice but to stray from the group if he wanted to hang out with him. He's used the last week to figure out their schedule. Everyone was to be awake by nine in the morning and they'd return to the hotel by 10pm. Then it was lights out by midnight. So all he had to do was wake up before everyone else and be back before they woke up. Checking the time, Matthew knew he had exactly three hours to hang around and come back. That was plenty of time to formally introduce himself and go sightseeing.

The American looked around for his friend, hoping to catch a glimpse of him. That was when he was approached by a taller man.

The guy had short, brown hair and soft eyes to match. His skin was pale and clean from any facial hair. Though there was still some stubble that indicated some existed prior to this moment. He wore a denim jacket with a white t-shirt underneath. Accompanying them was a pair of dark blue jeans and white sneakers. He gave Matthew a small smile.

"Hello," he greeted in Russian. "Is your name Matvey by any chance?"

The brunette giggled. "Yes," he answered in the other's tongue. "You're Ivan then?"

"Yes!" Ivan's smile grew three sizes as he exclaimed in English, "Matvey, is good to meet you! I've waited so long for this moment!"

Matthew broke out into fits of laughter. "Come on, big guy. Start showin' me around. I ain't got all day."

Ivan laughed in return, shaking his head with a grin. "You Americans... Always rushing."

"Don't ya mean russi-"

"It is too early for pun," the taller man frowned.

Again, Matthew cackled. "I'm just messin' with ya. No need to be so serious, bro."

"And no Batman jokes."

Matthew playfully pouted at his companion, only to laugh a minute later. The two started on their short journey around the city. Ivan showed Matthew everything he could. They went window shopping and took pictures of monuments. Matthew wished they could have done more, but he needed to return to the hotel.

The Russian man took Matthew back to the hotel. When they arrived, Matthew looked back at Ivan with a big grin.

"That was so much fun, dude!" he shouted. "We've totally gotta do it again."

Ivan smiled in return. "Where would you like to go next?" he asked.

The American's eyes lit up. "I saw something about your garden near that university online! We should check it out!"

The other brunette hummed, thinking to himself for a moment. Then he nodded. "Yes," he said in Russian. "That is good idea. Same time tomorrow?"

Matthew nodded as well. "Yes," he replied, also in Russian. "I gotta go now. See you later, Ivan!"

With that, the American dashed into the hotel and up to his room. He quietly snuck back inside, sighing in relief when he saw his roommates were still asleep. He rushed over to the bathroom to take off his binder to save it for later. When he came back out, he dug through his bags and took out a book to read for the rest of the morning. He went to sleep early the night before, so he had plenty of rest already.

However, as he flipped through the pages of the story, Matthew found himself distracted. He'd read a couple of lines only to be lost a moment later. It took a solid minute for him to realize he dozed off, and he'd start the page again. It did get annoying, but how could he be mad? He knew what was making him daydream like this.

Matthew couldn't remember a time where he enjoyed being with someone like he did with Ivan. It made the American flustered. A red hue was displayed on his cheeks. Feeling the warmth on his face made him embarrassed. He covered it with his hands with a small grin as he giggled to himself.

It didn't matter to him if there was no chance. He wanted to bask in this feeling, and he was willing to take the fall.

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