Title: for some kinds of pleasure there are no defenses

Rating: PG-13 (language)

Disclaimer: Off the Map does not belong to me. If it did, a second season would be a no-brainer.

Spoilers: Any aired episodes, particularly the finale, are fair game.

Summary: Mina Minard is not a commitment-friendly girl, never has been.

Author's Note: First try at writing this show and these characters. Feedback is greatly appreciated. Title taken from Jackson Browne's 'My Problem is You'. Enjoy!

"I'm in love with you."

Mina Minard is not a commitment-friendly girl, never has been. Ask any of her ex-boyfriends (for someone who's as horrible as she is at relationships, the list of those is quite long) and he'll be more than happy to list a dozen reasons why they didn't make it past the six-week mark.

This is the moment the alarm bells should start going off in her head; normally, the slightest hint of anything as serious as what he just said has her running as fast as she can in the opposite direction. Sometimes literally. (When her last boyfriend, Eric, asked her to move in with him, she'd run all the way from Madison Avenue to Mott Street, trying to clear her head, come up with an appropriate response. The outcome of her attempt at Zen had been nothing more than a sprained ankle.)

She can feel her face scrunching and relaxing, waiting for the freak-out that has to be coming. She tells herself to let go of him, pull out of his hug, make him take his confession back so things can go back to normal. (If she's honest, it won't change anything, but it's all she can control at the moment and she should at least try, see what happens.)

She can't remember the last time someone hugged her like this; Fer doesn't count. Well, ok, he does, but having his arms around her is nothing compared to what she feels now. Safe. Secure. Like all the shit she's been dealing with the last few days has disappeared, leaving the two of them, together, unharmed.

He pulls away first and she's surprised how cold the loss of his touch leaves her. It's at least 70 degrees tonight, but a shiver runs up her spine. Her hands clench at her sides (she refuses to wrap them around herself, let any weakness through), the bare boards of the porch blurring with the weight of her stare.

"Say something, Mina," he pleads after a minute. There's a hand lifting her chin, forcing her to meet his eyes. She opens her mouth, tries to give him what he wants, but only succeeds in crying, tears spilling down her cheeks.

"Are the tears a nice way of telling me to fuck off?"

Her headshake is so vehement that her ponytail hits her in the face. She takes a deep breath, starts as best she can. "I-It's too much. Clark, that little girl in there," she points toward the OR, "now, you." His eyes narrow, darken, at her words, so she rushes to continue. "I'm not good at the whole commitment thing, or emotions in general, really. I can't say I love you. You wouldn't want me to right now. Trust me."

She stops to catch her breath. Thinking she's said all she has to say, he nods, walks toward the steps.

"Wait!" The desperation in that one word is enough to make him stop in his tracks. With a sigh, he turns to face her, shrugs his shoulders in a silent What now?

"I don't know very much right know. Everything that's gone on, since the day I came down here, has put me through the ringer," she says thickly, running her hands through her hair. "What I do know is this. I need you. I need to talk to you, to have you help me figure out how we got here and where we go next. I need you. And yeah, maybe I didn't realize that until five seconds ago, but I did realize it. That's something, right?"

Her impromptu speech finished, the last of her energy deserts her and she slides down the wall until she can't go any further and she's sitting, legs stretched in front of her.

He crouches next to her, skims his fingers over her shoulder. "It's something." A comfortable silence hangs between them for awhile, until he says, "I think you could use a drink. Yeah?"

She nods, lets him help her to her feet. "Don't take me home until I'm very drunk indeed," she says, accent and all, as they head down the stairs.

She can see the clever retort playing on his tongue, but he swallows it, opting to pull her into a sideways hug instead.

It's a start.