Minerva stayed with Duck after they’d saved the world. He’d expected that; she didn’t have anywhere else to go, not really. She wasn’t Sylvan, and her only connections on Earth were Duck and Leo and Sarah. And she’d lived with Duck before, so she stayed.
He didn’t mind. In fact, he didn’t really want her to leave. So when he decided to go to Brazil, well, the conversation wasn’t exactly what he had in mind.
“Hey, Minerva,” he asked one evening.
“Yes, Wayne Newton?”
He couldn’t help but smile at her using his full name. “Just Wayne is fine. Um, I was gonna ask you, do you have any plans? For the future, I mean. Do you wanna stay in Kepler?”
“Wayne Newton, are you asking me to leave?” Minerva looked suddenly worried, even glanced at the door.
“No, no, I don’t, you stay as long as you like Minerva.” He held up his hands. “No, I just, uhh… I think I’m moving to Brazil.” She stared at him in silence. “Shit. I mean, uh, Juno is being put in charge of helping with some reforestation, and she offered me to come help out, and I think it could be really good, you know. Planting trees. Seems like a good way to spend my life, now that this whole saving the world business is over.” Minerva still wasn’t speaking. “Minerva? Are you okay?”
“I am going to miss you, Wayne Newton.” She seemed oddly stiff.
“Hell, I’m gonna miss you too. But yeah, uh, you can keep the apartment if you want, I don’t… Really… Need it anymore, so… I mean, I’d hope I can crash here when I come to visit.” She still wasn’t looking directly at him. “Hey. Minerva. Is something wrong.”
She looked at the table between them for a long time, then met his eyes. “I don’t want you to leave me, Wayne.” She didn’t use his last name.
Duck nodded. “I’m sorry Minerva, I— I think I need to get out of Kepler.” He drummed a bit on the edge of the table. “You can come with me. I’m sure Juno won’t mind, we can get an apartment in Brazil… Still watch The Voice together Friday nights.” He smiled at her.
Minerva smiled back. “I’d like that very much, Wayne Newton.”
So Juno arranged for both Duck and Minerva to fly to Brazil and work with her for reforestation efforts. “Duck.” Juno tapped the papers he’d filled out. “Minerva needs a last name. And a birthdate. And that sort of stuff.”
“Ah shit.” Duck looked at it for a while. “Just, uhh… Fuck, I don’t know. Can’t you make something up?”
Juno raised an eyebrow. “I’m a federal employee.”
“So am I. And you know full well she doesn’t have any of that, does it really matter which one of us made it up? Juno, come on. You still owe me.”
Duck blanked. “Fuck, uhh… For taking you — shit — for covering — fuck — I don’t know.”
“Yeah, exactly.” Juno took the paper and filled it out. “How old is Minerva?”
“Actually or like, in appearance? ‘Cause those are two different questions, and I can’t say I know the answer to the first one.” Duck shrugged. “I don’t know. Put her down as like 40 or so. What last name are you giving her?”
“Newton.” Juno didn’t look up. “You figure out how to explain it” She grinned at him, and Duck cussed her out, but she refused to change it.
Leo and Sarah drove them to the airport. There were goodbyes and hugs and promises of skype calls and text chains. Minerva seemed excited. Duck felt excited, but he also felt tired, and the tiredness won.
He fell asleep on the plane, leaning his head against Minerva’s shoulder. She was a solid foot taller than him, so really, he was leaning on her arm, but that was alright. He was comfortable.
He woke up when they landed. His head was on Minerva’s chest, and she had an arm around him, so naturally, Duck flushed and instinctively pulled away.
Wauw. Not the reaction he’d expected from himself, but he supposed it made sense. She was Minerva , after all.
He didn’t have time to process it; they arrived in Brazil, and then there was customs with Minerva’s very fake passport procured by Juno — how, Duck didn’t want to know — which was a stressful experience in and of itself. Then finding their luggage and finding their way to the small apartment they were to share. Juno had gotten them a furnished apartment, which Duck was grateful for; Minerva hardly owned anything, save for clothes and her cellphone and her sword, and although Duck technically had more stuff, he hadn’t brought very much of it at all. He had wanted him and Minerva to have equal influence over the space; he wanted it to be their apartment, not his . Duck and Minerva’s place, not Duck’s place where Minerva was staying.
It was a weird thought, but it worked.
It took about three weeks of Juno rolling her eyes at them before Duck admitted to her that he was into Minerva. Oh, and a fair bit of booze.
He did tell Minerva the following week, too. He was worried about it, of course, but then Juno reminded him that he was 43 and could damn well tell a woman he loved her. So he did.
“I love you too, Wayne Newton.” Minerva smiled, and didn’t quite seem to be in on the gravitas.
“I know, I… Not like that, Minerva. Well, not just like that.”
“Oh.” She smiled. “Like that.” She crossed the floor towards him, and Duck almost took a step back. “I love you too, Wayne Newton.” And then she bent down to kiss him.
In hindsight, some part of Duck had been worried that he’d have to explain romance to Minerva, but either someone — Leo, he assumed, or maybe Juno — already had, or she knew. He didn’t mind. It was easier when he could just kiss her.