They only ever come together when the bottom falls out of their worlds.
The first time he shows up on her doorstep is the day he actually signs away his parental rights to Beth. Her fathers are out of town on business so she ushers him inside and settles a bottle of borrowed tequila from her fathers' well stocked liquor cabinets between them. She takes her cues from him and they do shots on her bedroom floor without speaking; the alcohol spreads through her body, making her feel warm and tingly as she wonders if it's helping him. When he kisses her it's slower and gentler than she expects and her heart breaks for him a little bit more. When he tugs at the bottom of her tank top she allows him to pull it over her head even if it crosses the friendship line. She is surprised when he doesn't take it any further, just wraps his arm around her tightly and rests his head on her chest. When he cries she can't help the tears that spill down her own cheeks as well. Long after his grip on her has loosened she stays awake wondering if he'll ever be the same person he was before giving away his daughter.
They aren't typical friends and nothing changes at school. Except she notices how forced his actions are and he'll never forget that she was the only reason he made it through that night.
Even if nothing changes in school somehow his doorstep is where she ends up when she loses sight of her dream. She's anything but quiet when she shows up waving around a letter from Juilliard declining her acceptance. When she kisses him he can already taste the tequila on her lips, he can feel the urgency in her touch as her body presses against his and her arms wrap around his neck. A part of him says to push her away, to prevent her from doing something she'll regret when she's sober but he knows what it is like to want to desperately forget everything. So when she pulls away and makes her way up the stairs to his bedroom, losing key articles of clothing, he can't help but follow. Afterwards she's quiet and it's totally unnerving him so as she traces circles across his arms and chest he plays with her hair and assures her that she's amazing. She doesn't cry but he wishes she would because this quiet girl is unnerving.
They both manage to finish out the school year without anymore disasters and for that they both are grateful so they settle for watching each other from afar. He watches her rush into the choir room and announces to everyone that she got in to NYU, her perfectly acceptable second choice. When graduation rolls around she hugs him good-bye and wishes him all the happiness in the world and he promises to come see her when she's on Broadway.
It's over, this weird relationship they've had over the last couple years. They will both part ways and lead independent lives. They can be grateful for the roles they've played in each other's lives but that chapter of their lives is over. It's time to move on.
It's a little over a year before she sees him again and this time things have fallen apart for both of them. They are both back in town to bury a teacher that had meant more to them then they could actually convey. They both show up at the school with a bottle of tequila and shot glasses and if the situation were anything else it may have made them smile. He pours with a heavy hand and she sings a sad song about death and loss and neither acknowledge the other's tears. They've lost a piece of their youth and there's nothing to talk about because for the first time their pain is the same and they both get it. At some point halfway through their second lime the rest of the glee kids start to filter in and it's loud and there's singing and reminiscing. It's the way the man would have wanted it: music and togetherness but it's not their way and he offers to walk her home. His lips on hers are more comforting than rehashing the past.
Its years before they are face to face with each other again. She doesn't know that he's been to every one of her opening nights in her off Broadway productions or that he waited in line for hours to get tickets to her first night playing Elphaba on Broadway. He doesn't know that every time she's home she picks up the phone dozens of times to call him, or that she's driven past his mother's house too many times to count. Their lives are finally in a good place so neither can understand why they can't get the other off their minds.
She'd seen him sitting on the other side of the aisle, as some sort of male solidarity she supposes, but after the ceremony she's lost track of him. Until hours later when she's sipping champagne and surveying the room, the turnout had been large for Artie and Tina's wedding, and she spots him and can't help the smile that tugs at her lips. She repeats the motion of bringing the champagne flute to her lips but really she's trying to hide her surprise that he seems to be crossing the room with the sole purpose of speaking to her. He doesn't say a word to her when he's finally taken his spot in front of her, instead he grabs her hand and she finds herself being led away from the table she'd situated herself at. She'd forgotten how her easily her hand slipped into his or how warm his is and she allows herself to melt into his side as they slip into the cool early spring air.
"You never were the champagne kind of girl." She loves the truth in his words, loves how he's probably the only person in the world who knows that. He's led them to a secluded area of the outside garden and she laughs when she sees that he's set up a table with a couple of shot glasses and a bottle of tequila, no doubt pilfered from the open bar.
She kisses him after just one shot. He wonders if he'll ever be able to do a shot of tequila without thinking of the way her lips taste. Tequila was always the drink he avoided when the guys went out drinking because the salt and lime reminded him of their tequila kisses and missing her was not a luxury he allowed himself. Missing her led to other things, like wanting to feel her touch, wanting to wake up next to her and not just for one morning but for all the mornings. No, tequila was not something he allowed himself but tonight with her in front of him in that dress he has to make an exception.
Tonight he has to make an exception because he couldn't watch her all night and not give in.
It's the start of something new. They spend the next couple of days while they are both back in town together and find that as their mutual departure date draws closer they want to shut out the rest of the world. It's hard enough to admit to themselves that this means more than just a fun hometown fling so the words never come. Neither is willing to accept that feelings may go deeper than just sex. They stop for one last drink in the airport bar before their flights board, his to Philly and hers to JFK. Even before they do their shots of tequila she presses her lips against his because a part of her wants to remember what his lips taste like without tequila, a part of her wants to prove to herself that it is more than the tequila.
She realizes when she boards her plane that she shouldn't have done that because for the next couple of months that kiss is the one she can't get off her mind. He takes a different approach and goes out with the guys downing shots of tequila hoping to only think of those tequila kisses, because that sober kiss would change everything – and he's not some chick that gets his hopes up over nothing.
She takes Thanksgiving off to go home. It's risky because she's still making a name for herself and there's no doubt that her understudy is good but she can't get a certain boy off her head and the still active Glee rumor mill says that he'll be home for the holiday. She can't get him off her mind and she's ready to get this settled once and for all, even though she hasn't the slightest idea what that means. She's never been the type of girl to not have a plan but she's finally sorted out and is, mostly, ready to admit that there are feelings below the surface that need to be dealt with.
She's determined to go to his mother's Friday after she naps from her Black Friday shopping excursion with Daddy and she's surprised to find him on her doorstep as they're struggling to carry their bags in the door. Daddy gives her a knowing smile and manages to take her bags along with his inside, and she's left standing in front of him hoping that he's looking as fidgety as she feels because they need to have a talk.
"I thought, maybe, we could go get a drink or something?"
"Noah! It's 9:30 in the morning."
"I was thinking more along the lines of coffee or something, but I like the way you think Berry."
They do actually talk over coffee and nothing is exactly decided except for the fact that Philadelphia is an hour and a half away from New York City. But when Noah casually mentions that there are plenty of construction jobs in the city she gets shivers down her spine. And he doesn't miss that Rachel not so casually mentions that the perks of being a Broadway star is she got to sleep in which would be perfect if she had visitors. It leaves a lot to the imagination for the both of them but lines had been blurred since that first day in her bedroom.
They're both willing to see how this plays out but neither doubts the other's investment. They'd seen each other at their worst so why not give each other the chance to see them at their best?