No Marriage is Perfect

Disclaimer: All of the characters that you see before you belong to ABC, Darren Star Productions, and Kapital Entertainment. I'm just having a little fun with them.

Summary: "No marriage is perfect." Cricket Caruth-Reilly

Author's Note: This is the first fic that I've written in a long time. I find the relationship between Blake and Cricket to be the most interesting one on GCB and wanted to explore a little bit more how they got there. ABC owns everything except the story. And if anyone's wondering, Reunion Tower is an iconic building in Dallas that's shaped like a giant pole with a ball on top. Now there are restaurants at the top, and for the purposes of this story I'm pretending that there were back then too.

They are friends in high school, but back then Blake Reilly is friends with everyone. With his cowboy good looks, natural athleticism, and easy-going nature he is popular with guys and girls, floating effortlessly between the social cliques. Even after Cricket is banished to be a javellina because of the infamous herpes rumor, Blake is the one person from her previous life as a fox who is still friendly.

After graduation Cricket attends SMU, her father's alma mater. She is pleasantly surprised when she learns that of her Hillside High class, Blake is the only one who will be joining her there. Perhaps she'll be able to get a fresh start.

Even though is only a few minutes away from Hillside, SMU is like a whole other world. No more foxes and javellinas, no more Amanda Stoppard and her vicious rumors. More importantly she finally feels some degree of freedom from her father. So long as she gets straight A's, he doesn't care what else she does. Cricket chooses primarily business courses freshman year, and in her first 8 am class she finds herself in the same lecture hall as Blake Reilly, who waves her over to an empty seat beside him.

"Hey cowgirl. How're you doing?" he says with a big smile.

For the first assignment they are supposed to break into pairs, and Blake drapes his arm over her shoulders. "Want to come over to my dorm room tonight and get started?"

"Where are you living?"

"Moore Hall. I have a roommate, but he's hardly ever there."

Cricket smiles. "I have a better idea. Why don't you come over to my place to study? I'm living in a penthouse in the West Village."

"Nice girl, how'd you swing that? I thought all freshmen had to live in the dorms."

She smiles smugly. "Not all freshmen."

Blake comes over at 7 pm with a pizza and beer, and they spend the night working and talking. She never realized that beneath his easy-going, fun-loving demeanor is a sharp mind. They work well together, and a few days later, when the professor singles out their assignment as the best in the class, Blake leans over to whisper in her ear, "You know this means you're going to have to be my partner for every other project this year. I won't take no for an answer."

Before long Blake is her closest – really only – friend at SMU. Living off campus in a beautiful penthouse may be luxurious, but it also means that she is out of the loop for most of the social gatherings at school – not that Cricket minds. She is happy to avoid all of the girly backstabbing that she had had to endure at Hillside. With Blake there are no games to play, no backstabbing. He is a straightforward, honest, kind guy. She has never felt so comfortable with someone as she does with Blake.

Somewhere between all the studying, football games, movies, and dinners, Cricket realizes that her feelings towards Blake have become more than just friendly. They are studying for their final exam together one night when she can't help herself. She leans forward and kisses him.

"Cricket!" Blake looks shocked and confused.

Cricket turns bright red. She doesn't know what to say. She doesn't usually let herself do anything so impulsive. But before she can say anything, Blake smiles at her, pulls her close, and kisses her.

"I didn't know you felt that way Cricket," Blake says. He lifts one hand and caresses her cheek. "You are so beautiful."

What follows is the most wonderful year of her life. Blake is the perfect boyfriend. He is kind and courteous. He buys her beautiful presents and takes her to wonderful restaurants. They spend all their time together, and yet he never makes her feel pressured to go further and faster than she wants. With Bill Vaughn Cricket had spent half their time together arguing about sex. Despite Amanda's rumor, Cricket is still a virgin and intends to stay that way until her wedding night. However no one has tested that resolution so much as Blake. He is so gorgeous that just looking at him makes her feel hot and tingly.

For their one year anniversary Blake makes plans to take her to dinner at Reunion Tower, and Cricket suspects that he is going to propose. She finds a bag from Tiffany's in his trash can, and a week before their anniversary he has a very mysterious meeting with her father. The evening starts out perfectly. Blake picks her up in his BMW and drives her to Reunion Tower. The food is divine, though truthfully Cricket is too nervous to taste it. This is it, she thinks, this is the night I'll be telling our children about for the rest of my life, the night we got engaged.

After dessert he pulls a jewelry box out of his jacket pocket. It is long and thin, definitely not a ring.

"Happy anniversary Cricket," he says.

She tries to hide her disappointment but the sapphire necklace inside is too beautiful to be disappointed for long.

"Thank you Blake, it's incredible."

"There's something else …." Blake looks nervous, "can we go outside and talk?"

"Of course."

They step outside on the balcony that wraps around Reunion Tower. The lights of Dallas stretch out before them like a sea of twinkling stars. Cricket loves the view of the city from this angle.

"What is it?"

He takes her hand. "Cricket, you know that I love you more than anyone else I've ever know. You are so beautiful, so strong, so perfect. I feel like I can tell you anything."

"I feel the same way Blake."

He takes a deep breath, and Cricket's heart skips a beat. She knows what's going to come next … or at least she thinks she does.

"I'm gay."

The words echo in Cricket's brain without being processed. She just stands there frozen.

"Cricket … baby … talk to me."

Without a word she turns and rushes inside to the elevator. She ignores Blake's pleas to come back and ducks inside the elevator car before he can reach her. She grabs a cab waiting downstairs, and it isn't until she's back in her own bed that she allows herself to cry.

The next time she sees him it is three months later. Sharon Johnson, soon to be Peacham, is throwing a big end of summer party at her parents' house before she and Zach return to College Station. At first Cricket is hesitant to attend, but Sharon assures her that Blake is not going to be there.

"Don't worry, Blake told Zach that he's going to be up at his family's ranch that weekend. You have to come."

Cricket hates to admit how lonely she has been without Blake, so she allows herself to be convinced.

"All right. I'll be there just so long as Blake isn't."

Of course, when she arrives at the party, the first person she sees is Blake.

He walks up to her wearing bright red swim trunks and a smile.

"Cricket. How are you?"

Cricket plasters on tight smile. "Fine Blake. How are you?"

Blake puts his hands on her shoulders. "Can we go someplace private and talk?"

Cricket glances around and sees that everyone is watching the estranged couple. She hates being the center of attention like this.

"Of course," she says stiffly.

Blake takes her by the arm and steers her towards Sharon's bedroom. He sits on Sharon's bed and pulls Cricket down beside him.

Before he can say anything she says, "I'd never tell anyone, if that's what you're worried about."

"Oh Cricket. That's not what I wanted to talk to you about. I know I can trust you. It's just … well … I miss you."

"Do you?"

"Of course. I meant every word I said that night at Reunion Tower. You're my best friend, and I love you. I can't stand that we haven't been able to talk since that night."

"What do you want me to say? That's it's all right. That I forgive you." She uses her ice blue eyes to drill right into his soul. "You broke my heart." She struggles to control her voice so that the words come out flat and emotionless, but she can't keep tears from forming in her eyes. "I thought you were going to propose that night." She clears her throat loudly to try to get control over it once more. "I know you went to my father, and …."

But it's no use because Blake wraps his strong arms around her and pulls her close to him. "I'm so sorry, baby." That does it for Cricket. She starts to cry into his shoulder. His skin smells faintly of chlorine and sunscreen.

"I was going to propose," he admits, "I bought a ring and everything. But I realized that it wasn't fair to do that without letting you know what you were signing up for."

She can't say anything; she's crying so hard. For a moment they just sit like that, her crying quietly on his shoulder while he rubs her back. Cricket hates that she is letting him see her so raw and vulnerable, but Blake doesn't seem to mind her tears.

"Do you want to get out of here?" he asks.

She glances at her reflection in the full length mirror hanging on Sharon's wall and grimaces. Her eyes and nose are bright pink from crying, and her cheeks are unattractively flushed as well. She can't face the crowd downstairs looking like this. "Where do you want to go?"

"Why don't we go get a drink?" Blake suggests, and Cricket nods in agreement.

They manage to slip out of the party without anyone noticing, and Blake drives her to a dive bar near campus. It is dark and empty in the middle of the day. They sit at a corner booth and spend the rest of the day drinking tequila and talking, and when Cricket is so drunk that she can hardly stand, Blake takes her home and tucks her into bed.

After that day Blake and Cricket try to reach a new normal. They piece together the best parts of their previous relationship – their deep friendship, their mutual affection – and glue everything together with the bond that comes from sharing such a huge secret. However functional things may seem though, Cricket knows that their new normal is hopelessly lopsided. Blake is always telling her how much he loves her and admires her, but Cricket doesn't like to admit her own feelings. She wishes that she could purge the part of her that's still madly in love with him, but she can't. She tries to sublimate those feelings into just friendship by finding someone new to love. But after three serious relationships, each ending in a failed proposal, she finds herself right where she started.

Blake takes her to dinner at Reunion Tower to celebrate the start of their final semester at SMU. Everything feels so right with Blake, so comfortable. They talk about their plans for the future. With Blake's encouragement Cricket has convinced her father to give her a job at Caruth Industries. Blake on the other hand isn't sure what he's going to do next. He has a strong business acumen, but he's interested in something creative as well.

"Maybe I'll work for an ad agency after graduation," he says.

"You could always come work for me," Cricket suggests. "I'm sure I could put your talents to good use."

"Maybe. I don't think your father would be too keen on that idea though. He doesn't seem to like me much ever since I didn't propose to you."

That reminds Cricket of something she's always wondered about. "About a week before that night," she says, "you scheduled a meeting with him. What did you two talk about?"

Blake takes a sip of his martini while deciding how to answer the question. "Actually he scheduled the meeting with me. He wanted to know what my intentions were towards you. He thought that after dating for a year, I should be preparing to propose to you, and he told me as much," he said truthfully.

"Oh." Cricket pauses, lips pursed before gathering the courage to ask, "Is that why you bought a ring?"

"Kind of. I realized that we couldn't keep just dating forever. People would expect us to take the next step. But I couldn't put you through all that unless I told you the truth first."

Cricket raises her eyebrows at him. "Have you thought about what you're going to do about that?"

He just shrugs and takes another sip of his drink.

She shakes her head at him. "People are going to talk if you don't have a wife soon, or at least a girlfriend. I know you haven't dated any girl since me."

Blake drains the remainder of his martini in one long draught. "It doesn't seem fair somehow. Leading them on, breaking their hearts. Like I broke yours."

"Thanks for the concern, but my heart is just fine," she says cooly.

"Come on Cricket, you don't have to put on that armor with me. I know that I hurt you, and I hate myself for it."

"Just out of curiosity, how did you think it was going to go? You were going to tell me the truth and then what? I'd shrug it off, you'd ask for my hand in marriage, and we'd be engaged."

"I don't know. I didn't have any idea how you'd react. You're the only person I've ever told, remember."

"I'm glad you did."

Blake looks surprised. "I think that's the first time you've said that."

"Well it's true," she says simply.

Blake reaches across the table to take her hand. "I'm glad you feel that way. I can't imagine my life without you." He gazes into her eyes as if searching for something, then asks, "Why don't we go back to my place for a nightcap?"

Later that night they are sitting on the balcony of his apartment drinking margaritas. The January night air is cool and crisp, but Blake insists on siting out there for the view.

"It's getting late, I really should be going." Cricket says.

"Aw, not yet. It's still early. One more drink." Before she can answer, Blake grabs her glass and rushes off to the kitchen to pour another two margaritas. Through the windows Cricket sees him take a shot of tequila before returning with the two fresh drinks.

"Are you trying to get me drunk?" she teases.

He doesn't answer her question, just smiles and says, "You're so beautiful Cricket."

"Thank you."

"You're so beautiful … and smart … and wonderful. You're my best friend. And I think we make a good team." He voice is getting faster, the words rushing together. He stands up and sticks his hands nervously in his pockets.

"Blake, what are you doing?"

He seems to find what he's looking for, and holds it in his fist. Taking a deep breath, he gets down on one knee.

"You're drunk," she says, her voice half an octave higher than normal.

"Cricket Caruth, I can't imagine my life without you. I understand if your answer is no, but I have to ask. Will you marry me?"

He opens the jewelry box to reveal a diamond engagement ring.

A thousand thoughts run through her mind in an instant. It's insane, the idea of marrying Blake … he's obviously not the right man for her … and yet … and yet … in so many ways Blake is everything she's ever dreamed of. Smart. Handsome. Driven.

And he loves you. He believes that you can run the family business. He'll be by your side every step of the way.