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Single in Central City

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Sara Lance is pretty happy with her life. She's in her senior year of college, about to get her degree in Social Work and loves her job as a photographer with the school newspaper. She's also living with her boyfriend, Nate, who is working on his Masters in History.

It's Christmas Eve and after having dinner with her family, Nate leaves early so that he can get a head start on driving to his parents' cabin two hours away. They need to take separate cars anyway so that Sara can be back to meet a deadline on Friday. The plan is for Sara to follow after spending some quality time with her parents, her sister, Laurel, and Laurel's husband Tommy since she won't be spending her birthday with them the next day.

After getting on the road, Sara starts flipping through Sirius XM channels until she lands on a call-in radio talk show. Listening to other people's problems can sometimes be entertaining, so she decides to listen for a while.

"Welcome to You and Emotions. I'm Dr. Gideon Rider, broadcasting from Metropolis. Tonight we're talking about wishes and dreams. What's your wish this Christmas?"

"Give me a break." Sara changes to a different station, which is playing cheesy Christmas music, so she changes it back.

"Our caller is from Central City," Dr. Rider says.

Sara is intrigued when she hears a young girl's voice.

"This is Lisa --" A beep cuts her off.

"No last names, Lisa," Dr. Rider interrupts. "Hello there, you sound younger than our usual callers. How come you're up so late?"

"It's not that late in Central City. Besides, it's Christmas Eve."

"Got me there. What's your Christmas wish, Lisa?"

"It's not for me. It's for my big brother. I think he needs a new better half."

"You don't like the one he has now?"

"He doesn't have one now. That's the problem," Lisa says.

"So you think he needs a wife?"

"Partner," Lisa insists. "Could be a wife or a husband. He likes both."

"I see… Where are your mom and dad?"

"Mom died when I was little and Dad's in jail," Lisa says, bluntly. "It's just Lenny and me. It's okay, he's, like, twelve years older than me and got legal custody a while ago. I've been sad, but he's worse."

Sara closes her eyes for a moment. It's situations like this that made her major in social work.

"Have you talked to him about it?" Dr. Rider asks.

"No, that makes him sadder."

"Lisa, is your brother home?" Dr. Rider asks. "Is he busy?"

"No, he's out on the balcony."

"Can you ask him to talk to me?"

Sara gasps at the gall of this so-called doctor. "Wretched woman! Hang up, Lisa!"

"No, he'd kill me."

"He won't be angry when he hears how concerned you are about him."

"Want to bet?" Sara comments.

"If he yells, you lose a fan," Lisa says before yelling, "Lenny, there's someone on the phone for you." Into the phone, she says, "He likes to be called Leonard."

"If you've just tuned in, tonight's topic is wishes and dreams. We have a listener from Central City."

Leonard closes the balcony door behind him as he picks up the cordless phone from next to the couch. "Hello?"

"Hello, Leonard, this is Dr. Gideon Rider on Network America."

"What are you selling?" Leonard demands. "Micro-hibachis or knives?"

"Neither. I want to help. Your sister asked me for advice. She wants to find you a wife or husband."

"Who is this?" Leonard asks, warily, looking around for Lisa and spotting her peeking around the kitchen counter.

"Dr. Gideon Rider of Network America. You are on the air."

"You called a radio station?" he asks Lisa, incredulously.

"Leonard, are you there?"

"Yes."

"You haven't settled down with a partner. Your sister is worried about you."

"Get out here," Leonard says to Lisa, beckoning her into the living room. "I won't go through this alone."

"It's hard for her to talk to you about this. If we talk about it, maybe Lisa will feel better."

"Talk to her. She's a doctor," Lisa encourages.

"Her first name could be Doctor," Leonard retorts.

"Please," Lisa begs, looking up at him with wide puppy dog eyes.

"Leonard, it's her Christmas wish," Dr. Rider adds.

With a sigh, Leonard sinks on to the couch. "Okay."

"Good. I know this is difficult. When was your last relationship?"

Glaring at Lisa, even as he raises his arm for her to lean against him on the couch, he admits, "I don't do relationships."

"Why not?"

"Gideon... or Dr. Rider?"

"Dr. Gideon," she offers.

"I don't mean to be rude …" Leonard starts to say.

"I don't want to pry …" Dr. Gideon interrupts.

"Sure you do," Sara comments from her car.

"Go on, Leonard. I'm listening."

"We had a pretty tough time at first. But we're dealing with it. Lisa and I will get along fine, as soon as I break her radio."

"I'm sure you're a wonderful brother," Dr. Gideon assures him. "You can tell a lot from a voice."

"Yes, you can," Sara agrees, and she has to admit that Leonard has a very nice voice.

"But Lisa still feels that you're under a cloud. Are you sleeping at night?"

"He doesn't sleep at all," Lisa answers.

Leonard looks down at her. "How do you know that?"

"I live here, Lenny," she says with an eye roll.

"Look, it's Christmas. Our dad is not a nice man and the holidays really brought out the abusive drunk in him. It's tough this time of year." He can't believe he is saying these things on national radio.

"Every kid needs stable parents. Maybe you need someone, too."

"Yes," Leonard whispers with such longing in his voice that Sara feels a tear slide down her cheek.

"We'll resume after these messages," Dr. Gideon says. "Leonard and Lisa, don't go away. I'm talking to Single in Central City. We'll be back with listener response."

"What's that?" Leonard asks.

"People call in and dump on you," Lisa answers.

"This is really fun. And helpful," Leonard drawls, sounding like it is anything but fun and helpful.

Sara pulls up in front of Nate's parents' cabin and needs a moment to compose herself. She is surprised that she's been so moved by this little girl and her brother. She can't imagine taking care of a kid at her age. She tries to push the call out of her mind as she gets out of the car and prepares to spend Christmas with Nate and his family.

A few days later, Sara is having lunch with her sister at a cafe near campus.

"Did you hear about this?" Laurel asks, pulling up a story on her phone and showing it to Sara.

Sara glances down and reads the headline Single in Central City.

"Oh, yeah, I heard this on my way to the Heywoods' on Christmas Eve. This little girl called in because her Christmas wish was for her older brother, who is her guardian, to find a girlfriend or boyfriend. She was very clear that he is bisexual."

"How embarrassing," Laurel comments.

"No, it was sweet. Well, maybe not for him, but the intention was good," Sara says. "She just wants her brother to be happy."

"Wow, look at you getting all sappy," Laurel teases.

"Shut up." Sara tosses a crouton from her salad at her sister.

Later that night, while Nate is snoring in bed, Sara gets up and goes out to the living room, slipping headphones into her ears. She finds the story on Single in Central City and hits play on the audio file.

While Leonard's annoyance is very clear on the recording, so is his love and affection for his little sister. Sara could tell that this is a man who would do anything to protect those he loved.

She can't help comparing this faceless man to the man sleeping just down the hall. She loves Nate, but he is so scared of life due to his hemophilia. Sara wants adventure in addition to love, but her lover's idea of excitement is spending a day at a historical reenactment. Not even participating in it - just watching, so that he won't be hurt.

Sara hopes that Leonard will find someone to love him as much as his sister does.

~~*~~

Leonard's mailbox has been overflowing ever since that stupid radio call on Christmas Eve. Both his physical mailbox and his email inbox. The radio station has been forwarding them because when they'd called and asked for his email and physical address, Lisa had given it to them without hesitation. Men and women all over the country have been writing to him with offers of marriage. He finds the whole thing pathetic.

"When's the last time you even went on a date?" Mick asks as they sit down at the diner counter.

"I don't know, probably before I got custody of Lisa," Leonard admits.

"Look, I know we don't do feelings, so I'm only gonna say this once," Mick says. "Lisa's not the only one worried about you. You're taking care of a ten year old while finishing up your architecture apprenticeship. You can't do it all alone."

"That's what I've got you for," Leonard says, slapping Mick on the back.

"I ain't gonna keep you warm in bed at night," Mick grunts, crossing his arms.

"But meeting someone who wrote to me because they heard me get a little too real on the radio?" Leonard shakes his head. "I want to fall for someone the old fashioned way. In person."

"What about that science geek you're always talking about that works at Jitters?"

"Barry? I don't know, what would I even say to him?"

"Come on over and let's do some chemistry," Mick suggests.

"Let's do some chemistry? Really, Mick?" Leonard drawls.

"Well, not like that, exactly," Mick agrees. "Just call and ask him for a drink."

Leonard is still thinking about his talk with Mick when he gets home.

"Lisa, I'm home!" he calls out, with no response. Their apartment isn't that big, but she still doesn't respond to repeated callings of her name. Finally, he finds her in her bedroom, lying on the floor with a boy he doesn't know, both wearing headphones that were plugged into a record player.

"Hi, Lenny, this is Jonas Hunter."

"Nice to meet you," Leonard says.

"This is amazing," Lisa says. "If you play this backwards, it says, 'Paul is dead'."

"Yeah. I know."

"How do you know?" Lisa asks, but Leonard just stands there wondering how his kid sister seems to have a more active social life than he does.

"Lenny, could you shut the door?"

"Sure," he says, heading towards the door.

"H and G," Jonas says. At Leonard's blank look he elaborates, "Hi and goodbye."

Leonard eyes the pair warily as he closes the door, then silently opens it again.

He goes into his bedroom and closes the door most of the way before pulling out his phone and bringing up Barry's contact. "Hello. Barry? This is Leonard Snart. I don't know if you remember me … Oh, great. I was wondering if you would like to have a drink with me? Dinner? Dinner would be even better. Friday would be great ... I hear that's a good place ... Seven-thirty is fine. And I'll … Okay, I'll meet you there. So it's Friday at seven-thirty for dinner. Great. Me, too. Bye."

Well, that was easier than he'd thought it would be.

~~*~~

Sara and Laurel are sitting on Sara's couch watching An Affair to Remember. Sara has her laptop open in front of her, writing a letter to Network America to forward to Single in Central City.

"Are you in love with him?" Laurel asks.

"Not now," Sara insists. Looking up at the TV, she says, "Those people knew how to love."

"You're a basket case," Laurel observes.

Ignoring her sister, Sara continues, "They knew it. Nothing could separate them because they knew. It was real."

"It's a movie," Laurel corrects her. "You don't want to be in love. You want to be in a movie." Gesturing towards the laptop, she says, "Read it."

"Dear Single and Sister. I've never written a letter like this before."

"That's what everyone writes," Laurel comments.

"You think I don't know that?" Sara testily objects.

"What about Nate?" Laurel asks.

"I'd give anything to marry Nate," Sara answers. "He's so unexpected. You think you know him, but you don't."

Laurel looks at Sara like she's crazy. Nate is as predictable as they come.

"I should write about destiny. What if this man is my destiny, and I never meet him?"

"Your destiny can be your doom," Laurel says.

Going back to her email, Sara reads aloud as she types. "I want to meet you ..."

"At the Empire State Building," Laurel dictates, watching the movie.

"At the Empire State Building," Sara types.

"Sunset, Valentine's Day," Laurel says.

As Sara types, she says, "I'll be in New York with Nate. I can squeeze it in." Realizing what she's just said, Sara closes her laptop. "I'll be in New York with Nate!" Disgusted with herself, she gets up and leaves the room.

Laurel picks up the laptop, opens it to the letter Sara hadn't actually deleted yet, and hits print. She nervously keeps an eye on the door as she sets the laptop back where it had been and goes over to the printer. She folds the letter and slips it into her back pocket. From listening to Sara going on and on about Leonard, she knows he has to be a better match for her sister than Nate.

The next day at work, Sara still can't get Leonard out of her mind and decides to call an old friend who had moved to Metropolis after graduation to work for the Daily Planet.

"Lois? It's Sara Lance. I'm fine. I'm helping out on a piece about radio shows. Do you know Dr. Rider?" She smiles as she is given the number for Dr. Rider's radio show.

Armed with the radio show's contact information, Sara dials them next. "I work for the Starling City University Press and I'm doing a piece on LGBTQ+ single parents. I understand you had a caller from Central City…"

Sara can't believe how easy it is to get their phone number. She holds her breath as she calls the number, but all she gets is voice mail. "This is Lisa Snart. We're not in right now…"

Not deterred, Sara now has a last name and she begins searching the internet. How many Leonard Snarts could there be after all?

Just one, as it turns out.

She emails a private investigator in Central City to find more information on Leonard Snart.

~~*~~

"I'll be back either by midnight or 8:30 if disaster strikes," Leonard announces as he finishes getting ready for his date.

Lisa is sitting on the couch with Shawna, her babysitter. She's opening the latest batch of letters from the radio station.

"Here's one for both of us. Single and Sister, Starling City," she reads.

"Here's the doctor's number," Leonard says, pointing to a piece of paper on the fridge, ignoring Lisa. "Here's a bottle of ipecac if anybody drinks poison. How do I look?" He pauses in front of a mirror, smoothing down the black suit jacket over a blue shirt. "Do I look all right? I look stupid. I'm trying too hard."

"This is a good letter, Lenny," Lisa insists. "Her name is Sara Lance. Lenny, read this."

Leonard takes the letter Lisa is shoving into his hands. "Dear Single and Sister … I'm an excellent third baseman and let me tell you, the Rockets are the best. We must agree on this. I'm from Starling City."

"She likes the Rockets. So do you. It's a sign," Lisa says, giddily.

"Come here. I'll show you a sign," Leonard takes Lisa's hand and leads her to the big map of the United States. "Where's Central City?" She points to it on the map. "And Starling City?" Lisa looks at him blankly. "Right there!" Leonard points to northern California. "There's like one, two, three, more... states between here and there. That's a sign. I'm out of here. Goodbye. I love you." He kisses Lisa on the forehead as he runs out the door.

Barry arrives at the restaurant shortly after Leonard does and they are seated right away.

"You look good," Barry says, his cheeks flushing a bit.

"So do you," Leonard returns, admiring the way Barry blushes so easily.

"I thought you'd never call me," Barry admits. "I really wanted you to."

Just then, Leonard's cell begins to ring and he sees that it is his home number. He excuses himself to take the call in private.

"Lenny, can we go to New York for Valentine's Day?" Lisa asks before Leonard could say anything. "Sara Lance wants to meet us at the top of the Empire State Building."

"Lisa, have you fallen down? Has Shawna been strangled?" Leonard asks, peevishly.

"No."

"Is that the reason you're calling?"

"We can get cheap tickets from Jonas's parents," Lisa insists.

"We'll talk about it later," Leonard says, glancing over to where Barry sits, looking at his phone, bored. "This conversation has lasted too long. Go to bed." He hangs up and returns to the table.

"Everything all right?" Barry asks, putting his phone away.

"Yes. Do you have kids?" Leonard asks, knowing it is a stupid question given that Barry is even younger than him. Barry shakes his head no. "You want mine?" Barry snorts with laughter.

When the waiter passes by next, Leonard waves him over. "I'll have an Absolut straight up."

A couple of nights later, Leonard and Lisa met Barry at the Farmer's Market. Barry has picked up everything that he needs to make dinner for them.

Lisa is still upset that Leonard won't even talk about meeting Sara Lance and is surly all through the evening. She is just as happy to get away from Barry when Leonard sends her to bed.

When she can't hear voices, she sneaks out of her room and sees Lenny and Barry out on the balcony, just as Barry leans in to kiss her brother.

She runs to grab the phone.

~~*~~

Sara is woken up by her cell ringing. In fact, she accidentally elbows Nate in the face when she finally hears it and they have a frantic moment where they have to make sure that he isn't bleeding, which luckily he isn't.

"Turn on your radio," Laurel says when Sara finally answers the phone. "The kid is on. You've got me listening to this garbage!"

Sara turns to Nate. "Laurel's having trouble with Tommy." She gets out of bed and grabs her headphones as she walks to the kitchen. She finds the radio program and goes to hide in the broom closet, ashamed of what she is doing.

"He's kissing him right now!" Lisa whines.

"Are you spying on your brother?" Dr. Rider asks.

"Who is he kissing?" Sara asks Laurel.

"I have to make them stop," Lisa says.

"How will I explain this to Nate?" Sara wonders aloud.

"He made dinner," Lisa is explaining. "He brought food for a whole year!"

"It's good that your brother's dating," Dr. Rider says. "It's just hard on you. You think you want it, but when it happens, it scares you. Shouldn't your brother decide whether someone is right for him?"

"He's not sane enough," Lisa says. "He's kissing him on the lips. My brother's been captured by a whore!"

"Calm down. Tomorrow, when you're having breakfast, tell him how you feel. Don't keep it inside," Dr. Rider suggests.

Lisa screams, just as the closet door is pulled open, causing Sara to scream, too. She yanks the earbuds out of her ears.

"Miss Scarlett. In the broom closet. With the phone," Nate says, smugly.

"Nate, you scared me. Don't ever do that again."

~~*~~

"I saw a black widow," Lisa states from her perch on the kitchen counter.

"You scared me and Barry," Leonard says.

"It was right there," Lisa points to the corner of the room.

"Next time I want you to say: Lenny, I see a poisonous insect. And I'll deal with it. Don't scream."

~~*~~

"Great letter," Jonas says when Lisa shows him the letter from Sara. "Write to her."

"You think so?" Lisa asks, having had the same thought.

"It's Y-O-H. Your only hope," Jonas insists.

~~*~~

Sara casually walks into Laurel's office. "I thought I'd do a photo story on Midwestern family life."

"You'd have to go somewhere," Laurel says, knowingly.

"Definitely," Sara agrees with a wink.

When she gets home that night she tells Nate about her trip.

"Can't you do a phone interview?"

"Not with my camera, no," Sara says. "I won't be in Keystone long."

"When you get back, I'll be gone," Nate points out, afraid Sara has forgotten about his research trip.

"Then I'll see you in New York," Sara reminds him with a kiss on the cheek.

~~*~~

"Thanks for bringing me here," Barry says as they stand near the security line at the airport after Barry has checked in.

"She likes the planes," Leonard says, brushing it off.

"Can I bring you back a souvenir?" Barry asks Lisa. "Maybe one of those snow globes?"

"Sure, I'd really like that. Thank you so much," Lisa says politely, but full of sarcasm.

"She's ten," Leonard said in response to Barry's look of unease.

"She's good at it," Barry says, dryly.

"I've read an article about it. Children are hideous at that age," Leonard says.

"Maybe when I come back, the two of us ought to spend some time alone," Barry suggests licking his lips. He leans in and kisses Leonard softly before turning towards the security line. He calls out, "Bye. Bye, Lisa." Lisa gives a single wave back.

Once Barry is far enough away from them, they turn to head back to their car. They need to detour through the baggage claim area to get to the right elevator.

"Lisa. Listen, you don't know Barry. In fact he's a mystery to me, too. He scratches the back of his neck a lot. Why? Is it a twitch? Does he need some kind of ointment? I'd like to understand these things. And that's why I'm dating him. Just dating. I'm not living with him. I'm not marrying him. Can you appreciate the difference?" Lisa nods. "That's what single people do. They see how other people fit. Everyone's an adjustment. There's no such thing as a perfect …"

Leonard catches sight of a beautiful blonde woman, around his age, heading with purpose for the taxi line. Intrigued, he turns to follow her.

"Come on," he says to Lisa.

"Lenny, Jonas says you knew Sara in another life. The one who wrote us. But you never got together in that life. Your hearts will be a complete puzzle once you're together. I know that because I'm young and pure, in touch with cosmic forces."

Leonard stops, having lost track of the blonde in the crowd. "Who told you that? I sure hope you're not marrying Jonas."

~~*~~

Sara is nervous as she approaches the apartment building. As she is working up her nerve to ring the buzzer, the door swings open and Leonard and Lisa come out, taking a left at the sidewalk and continuing on foot.

Sara runs back to her car and grabs her camera bag and begins to follow them. They stop when they get to a park. Sara finds an alley across the street and shelters there as she watches them play together. Every once in a while she takes a few snapshots of them, grateful that she has her telescopic lens.

That night, she calls Laurel from her hotel room.

"I watched them play at the park."

"Did you talk to him?" Laurel asks.

"Couldn't do it," Sara admits. "How did I get here?"

"You lied and got on a plane," Laurel succinctly answers.

"I'm going to talk to him tomorrow," Sara says, determinedly.

"Okay. Good. Goodbye."

"Laur ... Is this crazy?"

"No, that's the weirdest part," Laurel says.

"Thank you. I love you," Sara says.

"I love you, too."

~~*~~

The next morning, Sara drives back to Leonard's apartment building, determined to meet him this time. She parks on the far side of the street and just as she is heading across the street, she sees him standing directly across from her, embracing a man.

A car honks and Sara realizes that she is standing in the middle of oncoming traffic. Leonard looks up at the sound of the car horn and their eyes lock.

"Hello," Leonard says, surprised to see the woman from the airport here.

"Hello," Sara says, mesmerized by his eyes. Then a car honks again from the other direction. Sara spins around and runs back to her car and drives straight to the airport.

"Then what?" Laurel asks, parking in front of Sara's building.

"I left, obviously," Sara says.

"You were in the street?" Laurel asks.

"It is like that dream where you're walking around naked."

"I love that dream," Laurel says.

"This is more humiliating."

"But he saw you," Laurel points out. "You were face to face."

"He said hello. And all I could say is hello."

Laurel drags Sara inside and puts An Affair to Remember in the DVD player. She cues it up to the scene she is looking for. "All I could say is hello."

"It's a sign," Laurel says.

"It's a sign that I've watched this movie too many times," Sara says. "From the minute I heard that program I've been a complete jerk."

"You're not a jerk," Laurel insists.

"Thank you. An idiot!"

"You don't know who that other guy is," Laurel pointed out.

"I have a picture of them out on a date. The detective sent it to me." She pulls out the file from the detective. "See. That's what he looks like, the guy Leonard kissed."

"It's his back."

"It's him; and Leonard's crazy about him." Sara starts going through her mail and a return address catches her eye. "What's this? It's from Central City." Laurel starts tidying the apartment. "Laurel?"

"So I mailed your letter …" she finally admits.

"Dear Sara. Thanks for your letter. You sound neat." Sara pauses at the juvenile writing style. "We're excited about meeting you in New York, and seeing if we're …" she pauses again "... M-F-E-O. See you soon. Single in Central City."

"M-F-E-O?" Laurel questions.

"Made for each other," Sara deciphers.

"It's cute. Like a little clue," Laurel says. Sara rolls her eyes. "So he can't write. Big deal. Verbal ability is overrated in guys. Our need for it leads to trouble."

"I'm going to run back to Nate," Sara decides.

"And the letter?" Laurel asks.

"It was written before I went out there. Before the whore." Sara sits heavily on the couch. "But he didn't look like a whore. He looked like one of our friends."

~~*~~

After the strange encounter on the street with the woman who almost got hit by a car, twice, Leonard brought his friend, Mark Mardon, inside and they settled at the kitchen table with a couple of beers.

"You saw her in the airport, too?" Mark asks, taking a sip of beer.

"It was like I knew her," Leonard admits.

"Like a Deja-vu?"

"It was very Deja-vu-ish," Leonard agrees.

"At least you're seeing people."

"Well, only one …" he admits.

"Bar-ry," Lisa says from the couch.

"You don't like him?"

"He laughs like a hyena," Lisa says.

"Is this true?"

"Sort of. Tell him what you did. Tell him about the radio show." Lisa doesn't say anything. "Christmas Eve she calls a radio show. And tells them I need a partner."

"Seriously, kid?" Mark asks.

"Now she's obsessed with a woman who wrote to me. She wants to meet me on top of Empire State on Valentine's Day."

"Who'd write a guy from the radio?"

"I got hundreds of letters. Desperate men and women."

"Is wanting a nice guy desperate?" Lisa asks.

"I don't want a mail-order bride. Just someone who can converse."

~~*~~

Lisa is over at Jonas's house after school the next day. It is only a couple of days before Valentine's Day.

"You have to find her," Jonas says.

"How much would it cost to go?" Lisa asks.

"Nobody knows. It changes practically every day. How much money do you have?"

"Eighty dollars," Lisa says.

"I have forty. That'll cover cabs."

"How would I get there?"

Jonas's mom pokes her head into the room. "I have to drop these tickets off. Can you keep an eye on things?"

Jonas and Lisa look at each other and smile. They rush to Jonas's mom's office.

"Window seat or aisle?"

"Window."

~~*~~

"You'll miss the flight," Laurel says as she follows Sara around her apartment as she picks up her photo bag, purse, suitcase, coat, etc.

"No, I won't," Sara insists. "I'm so happy, Laurel. This is right. It's real. The other things happen in movies. Don't tell anyone what I did. I'd die if anyone knew I did anything like that. You promise?" Laurel nods her head as Sara steps outside to the waiting cab. "Single in Central City is history."

Nate welcomes Sara into their room at the Plaza in New York with open arms. As they walk along Fifth Avenue the next day, they can both see that the other has something to say.

"Go ahead," Nate says.

"No, you go," Sara insists.

"I was going to say that since Christmas, you've been kind of distracted. But now it feels as if you're coming back from wherever you were."

"I am," Sara agrees. "I was just … I think I got nervous. But that's normal, right? Don't you ever feel nervous …"

"About what?" Nate asks.

"Forever," Sara says, gesturing widely.

"No."

"Well ... I did." As they walk through the streets of New York, Sara rambles. "And I think I thought it was too perfect. I was afraid we'd be two rights making a wrong. You know, it is like kismet, but not, if you see what I mean. You have to grow up and forget the adolescent fantasies about how exciting life will be. Some people want a relationship to be full of surprises, but I'm not one of them. Surprises are highly overrated."

~~*~~

Lisa is lying on Leonard's bed as he finishes packing an overnight bag for the next night. "I'll only be gone one night." Lisa pouts and rolls away from him. "Shawna will be here … You can watch scary movies."

"Are you going to be with him?"

"I'm going with Barry."

Lisa gets up and goes to her room, so Leonard follows her. "Don't try anything tricky. Don't roll in poison ivy or do anything so you need stitches. If your finger falls off, it stays off. I won't take you to hospital." Lisa is still ignoring him. "Is this about that woman?"

"Sara." Lisa turned around to glare at him. "I don't care what you do!" She slams the door.

Leonard goes back to his room and slams his own door. He begins to mutter. "I'll tell you what I'm doing. I'm getting laid. And I haven't been laid that much. Six or seven people while in college." He turns to see Lisa standing in the open doorway. "How long have you been there? What did you hear me say?"

"Six-seven people while in college."

"Seven ... Eight! Mary Kelly."

Lisa holds up the letter. "This is the one I like. What's wrong with Sara?"

"Lisa, shut up," Leonard snapped.

"Shut up? Dad never told me to shut up or yelled at me."

"Yes he did. This conversation is over! This woman could be a sick lunatic. Didn't you see Fatal Attraction?"

"You wouldn't let me," Lisa reminded him.

"It scared every man in America," Leonard says.

"I'm not leaving till you say yes," Lisa says, blocking the door to Leonard's room so he can't get out. He picks her up and deposits her in her bedroom. "I hate you!"

"Good, then you can tell Oprah how your brother ruined your life by going for a weekend special at the Holiday Inn!"

The next morning Leonard needs to get an early start to meet Barry. He knocks on Lisa's bedroom door. "Shawna is here and I've got to go." There is no response so he opens the door. "Lisa. Listen. I've got to go …"

Lisa's bedroom is empty. Leonard runs around the apartment, but there aren't that many places to hide. He drives frantically to her friend Jonas's house.

"Jonas, tell us where she is. Lisa's brother is very upset," Miranda, Jonas's mother says.

Jonas just sits there silently.

"Jonas, tell us where she is," Rip demanded.

Rolling his eyes, Jonas says, "N-Y."

"That means 'no way'," Rip translated.

"That's N-W!" Miranda corrected him.

"New York. She's on her way to New York," Jonas reluctantly informs them.

"How?" Leonard asks.

"United 597," Jonas supplies.

Rip and Miranda are shocked.

"When does it leave?" Leonard asks.

"Eight thirty," Rip answers.

Everyone looks over at the clock. It says 8:31. Jonas smiles.

~~*~~

Lisa sits nervously on the airplane, holding her backpack tightly in her lap.

"Here's a pin for flying with us," a flight attendant says, handing her the wings. Reaching for Lisa's backpack she offers, "Can I take this for you?"

"No," Lisa says firmly, clutching the bag tighter.

When the plane lands, Lisa follows the signs to the taxi stand.

"Where to kid?"

"Empire State Building," she says. She watches the scenery with fascination as the taxi drives through the city. She's never been outside of Central City before.

"There it is. What are you going to do up there? Spit off the top?" the cabbie asks as they pull to a stop in front of the building.

"No, I'm meeting my new sister-in-law."

For the next several hours, Lisa goes up to every single woman she sees and asks if her name is Sara.

~~*~~

"Great table. Thanks," Sara says as she and Nate are seated. The window looks out on the Empire State Building.

"Is something wrong?" Nate asks.

"Can I get you a drink?" the waiter asks.

"Champagne?" Nate suggests.

"Fine," Sara agrees.

"We'll have a bottle of Dom DeLuise," Nate says, choking back a laugh at his own joke.

The waiter is nonplussed.

"Just kidding," Sara says to the waiter. "He meant Dom Perignon."

The waiter nods and leaves.

"Beautiful view," she can't help commenting. "Nate … There's something I need to tell you."

~~*~~

Leonard fidgets on the entire flight from Central City to New York. He rushes through the airport to the taxi stand and cuts to the front of the line shouting, "Sorry, an emergency." He pulls out his wallet and hands several bills to the taxi caller. "Money, money, money, see?" He hurries into the open cab.

~~*~~

"So he could be on top of the Empire State Building now?" Nate asks.

"No. I guess he could be ... No." Sara says. She looks down at her hands, then back up to Nate. "It's not him, Nate. It's me. I can't do this."

"Sara, I love you. But let's leave that out of this. I don't want to be someone that you or anybody else settles for."

"Nate, I don't deserve you."

"No, I wouldn't put it that way. But ... okay," Nate agrees.

"You okay?" Sara asks.

"Yeah." He says. Sara gasps, looking out the window. "What?"

"Look." Sara points to the Empire State Building. It is now displaying a giant heart. "It's a sign."

"Who needed a sign?" Nate says.

"Nate, I have to go."

~~*~~

Leonard runs out of the elevator at the top of the Empire State Building.

"Lisa!" he yells.

"Lenny!" she calls back, running into his outstretched arms.

"What if something happened to you? What if I couldn't get to you?" he pulls her tight against his body.

"I'm sorry," Lisa cries into his arms.

"What would I have done? You're my family. You're all I have."

"I thought she'd be here," Lisa says.

"We're doing okay, right?" Leonard asks. "So far, have I done anything stupid? Have I screwed it up for us?"

"No," Lisa admits.

~~*~~

There is too much traffic so Sara gets out of her taxi and runs the rest of the way to the Empire State Building.

"Observation deck?" she asks, panting, when she reaches the information desk.

"Sorry, it's too late," the older gentleman behind the desk tells her.

"Please. I need to get up there," she begs.

"We're closing up," the guard insists.

"Can I just take a look? I'm supposed to meet someone. He's probably not there, but if I don't look, I'll always wonder."

"Cary Grant, right?" the guard asks, knowingly.

"You know that movie?" Sara asks, surprised.

"It's one of my wife's favorites," he admits, then nods her through. Sara grins and runs for the elevator.

~~*~~

"Maybe when we get home we'll get a dog," Leonard says, leading Lisa towards the elevators as they announce that the observation deck is closing. "Wouldn't you like to have a dog?"

"Sure," she agrees, glumly.

~~*~~

"I'm sorry, ma'am. Empty," the guard says as Sara steps out of the elevator.

"Can I take a minute?" she asks.

"Go ahead."

Sara steps out onto the observation deck, looking out over the city. She glances down and sees a backpack sitting by a telescope. Curious, she picks it up and opens the zipper, looking for a clue as to who it could belong to and pulls out a teddy bear.

"I left it by the telescopes," a girl says, coming into view.

It's them.

Sara knows her mouth is hanging open in wonder, even as she smiles, carrying the backpack over to the man and girl standing a few feet away from her.

"It's you," Leonard says in awe. "I saw you in the street."

Sara nods, still too stunned to speak.

"Are you Sara?" Lisa asks.

"Yes," she finally says.

"You're Sara?" Leonard repeats.

Sara hands the backpack and bear to Lisa. "This must be yours."

"I'm Lisa. This is my big brother. His name is Leonard."

"Hi. Lisa. Leonard." Sara can't stop grinning. Gesturing to the bear she asks, "And who's this?"

"Howard," Lisa says.

"We'd better go," Leonard says. He starts to turn away, then holds his free hand out to Sara. "Shall we?"

Sara takes his hand and they start to head back to the elevator. Sara and Leonard can't stop looking at each other as they walk.

"Leonard ... It's nice to meet you," Sara says.

As the elevator doors close, Lisa is wearing the biggest smile on her face.

The Beginning