So I was feeling nostalgic and decided to write a new Passions story. It's not Shuis, but it's something. I mostly post over at my LiveJournal (OKDeanna LiveJournal and my Passions Fan Fiction LJ), but I do check in here occasionally to see if anyone is still posting.

This story is a brand new, never before posted Hank/Beth one-shot.

Title: His Risk to Take
Author: okdeanna
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 1,712
Pairing: Hank/Beth
Season: Two
Timeline: When Beth was sane
A/N: <i>This one-shot is not based on any actual episode or argument to speak of, just one of those moments that I wanted to explore after the idea came to me.</i>

Summary: Hank Bennett thinks he’s found the perfect hiding spot to clear his head and decide what to do about his growing feelings for best friend, but unfortunately, it’s not as secret as he thought it was...and neither are his feelings for Beth Wallace.

His Risk to Take

Hank Bennett dove into Harmony Lake in one smooth dive, praying the water would cool him down and ease his troubled thoughts. When he resurfaced though, a curvy, familiar figure stood watching him from the edge of the boat dock. One he hadn’t expected to see quite so soon, or here, at his own private getaway spot.

Figured. Go for a swim to clear his head and the very reason he needed it cleared found her way to him. Wasn’t that just his luck?

“Please tell me it took longer than I think for Luis to rat me out,” Hank said, swimming toward the boat dock—and the owner of a pair of long, tanned legs that had haunted him for weeks, imaging them wrapped around his waist. Hell, forget weeks. Beth Wallace and her million-dollar legs had been haunting him for years, and he still had no damn clue what he was going to do about either one of them.

Beth shook her head and a small, reserved smile touched her lips. “Luis didn’t rat you out, Hank. I knew where you’d gone all on my own.”

She had? “How? I don’t remember ever telling you I come here.”

“You didn’t have to tell me. I know you. If you need to think, it’s going to be near water, and this is the most private place Harmony has, considering how close we are to the ocean and how few people would choose to swim here rather than at the beach.”

She had him there. “So, what, you came here to talk? Rehash our fight? Because if that’s the case, I’ve got to tell you, babe, I’d rather just skip it if we could.”

Beth bent to kneel on the dock, and reached for the hand he placed on the edge of the long, weather-worn boards. “I didn’t come here to fight, Hank. I came to apologize. I know I overreacted this morning when I saw you chatting with that girl, and I’m sorry for that. I had no right to put you on the spot like that. We aren’t a couple.”

“Maybe not, but I probably needed the push you gave me anyway.” Hank shook his head and, in one fluid motion, hauled himself up onto the dock beside her. “Truth is, I do have feelings for you, honey, and they damn sure weren’t planned. We’ve been friends since we were kids. Hell, I’ve known you longer than I’ve known Luis, and the thought of possibly losing you—I don’t want to lose you, Beth.”

She sighed, bumping a shoulder into his. “We all lose someone eventually, you know. Sometimes we lose them earlier than we’d like, and sometimes we don’t lose them for forty, fifty, even sixty years.” She lifted her hand. Touched the side of his face with her palm, turning his face toward hers. “Don’t plan our ending before we’ve had a beginning, Hank. Life, love, it’s not supposed to work that way.”

How would he know how love worked? He’d never been in love before. Not like he was with her. “Baby, you know I’m all for taking a risk,” he said, reaching for her hand, linking their fingers together. “But I can’t afford to mess things up with you. You mean too much to me, and I’m nothing if not a screw up.”

She squeezed his hand, resting her head on his shoulder. “People can change, Hank. Even restless, rebel guys like you.”

Yeah, and that might be the first lie she’d ever told him.

People didn’t change. People were always the same, deep down. It’s the perception of people that altered, and Hank was a master at altering people’s perception of him.

Too bad he hadn’t yet mastered the way to alter his own.

Hank pushed to his feet. Then helped Beth get to hers. “You sure you want to take this chance with me, Beth? You know me well enough to know there’s risk involved. I could hurt you, even without meaning to.”

“I could hurt you, too, but isn’t that what relationships are all about? Taking chances, opening ourselves up to hurt, and to love.” Beth stepped toward, crowding into his personal space, and cupped his face with her palms. “Life has no guarantees, Hank, but even if it did, I’m not sure I’d want one. There’s something to be said for figuring things out on your own, letting what will happen, happen. In its own time and in its own way.”

Hank pressed his face against her palm. “And you think now is our time? That now is our shot?”

“I don’t know,” she said, lowering her hands to his shoulders. “I guess that depends on you, doesn’t it?”

Meaning it was his move, is that it?

He frowned. “I can’t lose you, Beth. I won’t.”

“I don’t want to lose you, either, but I also don’t want to ignore what’s happening between us. We tried that, for years we tried that, and it hasn’t gone away. I’m not sure it ever will.”

Neither was he. “Okay,” he said, after a moment. “You win. We’ll give this thing a chance, but I swear to God, Beth, if it goes sideways, you have to promise me you won’t hate me for it.”

“I could never hate you, Hank. I might not like you much from time to time, but I could never hate you. I wouldn’t even know how.”

And he prayed to God it stayed that way. Because despite what she seemed to think, he knew himself well enough to know he’d screw this thing with her up. Somehow, someway, he’d do the one thing he swore he’d never do—and if he did, he’d never forgive himself for it.

Beth meant the world to him, and hurting her would be like cutting out his own heart.

“Hank, stop over thinking things and just kiss me. We’ve waited long enough, don’t you think?”

They had.

Hank leaned forward and touched his lips to hers. He meant for it to be a light peck, a testing of the waters, but as he tried to pull away, her arms locked around his neck, holding him in place.

And when her lips parted on a sigh, Hank could no more stop himself from tasting her than he could stop himself from breathing his next breath. He’d waited a lifetime for this kiss, and no way he wasn’t giving it his all now that it was happening outside his dreams.

He slipped his tongue into her mouth, deepening the kiss, and she rewarded him with a tiny flick from hers. And when she followed his tongue out, he caught hers between his lips, suckling once. She moaned low in her throat and shuddered in his arms, her nipples piercing his chest through the front of her now wet t-shirt.

He wanted her. Here. Now. In this moment. With the water glistening, the sun shining, and not a soul around to witness their union. But she deserved better, and he knew it, which reluctantly had him ending the kiss and pulling away from her.

“Damn, that wasn’t quite how I expected that to go.”

Beth lifted her arm, covering her lips with fingers that trembled. “W-what did you expect?”

“Not eruption, that’s for sure.” He gripped her hips, holding her body away from his lower half—and the erection that he knew wouldn’t be abating anytime soon. “Damn, baby. I think I need another dip in the lake.”

Beth grinned and stepped back, breaking his hold as she reached for the hem of her t-shirt and lifted it up and over her head. “That sounds like a great idea, Hank. I even brought my favorite suit.”

No, what she’d brought was a smoking-hot nude body. A bathing suit was nowhere in sight.

He swallowed, hard. “Are you trying to kill me?” he asked, dropping the cut-off shorts she’d thrown against his chest. He shook his head and looked her up and down. “That is not a swim-suit, Wallace.”

“No, but it is my favorite thing to swim in. How about you? What’s your favorite thing to swim in?”

So many things popped into his head as a reply, and not one of them was he about to say aloud.

“Depends on the company. Right now, I’m partial to these blue trunks, though they’re getting a tad tight in certain areas.”

Beth reached out, running a hand along his abdomen, her fingers hooking in the waistband of his shorts. “Maybe you should take them off, Hank. Take another risk with me.”

He’d be taking a risk all right. “I don’t have any condoms with me, Beth, and if I get in that lake with you, without these shorts on, I’m not sure I can keep my distance from you.”

“I’m not asking you to, and besides, I’m on the pill, clean as a whistle, and since I know you haven’t been seeing anyone these past few months and that you get regular checks up even when you are seeing someone, I think I’m willing to risk it. How about you?”

Did she know what she was asking of him? “Beth, if we do this, there’s no going back. Our relationship will change forever.”

“Yes, and it’s high time that it did, too, wouldn’t you say?” Her hand slipped below his short’s waistband, her fingers gripping him with a firmness that had him cursing. “Come on, Hank, drop the shorts and come play with me.”

Play? There would be no playing. There would only be complete and utter surrender—he just wasn’t sure if it would be her surrender or his.

“Let’s do it,” he said softly, reaching for her, running his hand up her naked back. “Let’s take a risk. Let’s take it together.”

Beth leaned in, grinning against his lips. “Now you’re speaking my language.” Then…she pushed away from him and jumped off the dock. It only took him a second to drop his shorts and follow her, and by the time he surfaced in the water, she was there, her legs wrapping around him as her mouth found his.

Yeah, taking a risk with her wasn’t so bad. Not when the reward was so amazingly great.