Fry woke with a jerk. His heart was racing, and there was a thin sheen of sweat turning cold on his skin.

Not the good kind of sweat.

He lay still for a minute, watching the dark room settle into focus around him.

Oh. Right. He was in Leela's cabin, on the ship.

In Leela's bed.

With Leela.

His breathing steadied at last and he rolled over to look at her.

She was still asleep.

It helped, to look at her. Just the sight of Leela's face was calming. Just the sound of her breathing.

She snored a little. Fry thought it might be the best sound in the whole world.

You're okay, he told himself. You're safe. You're with Leela.

Leela might not be kicking ass and taking names right this second . . . but she could if she had to, she could if she woke up, and that was a comforting thought.

Leela couldn't do anything if Brains tore the roof off the ship and poured in here right now, an anxious inner voice whispered. But underneath it was the gut deep feeling of safety he always had around Leela. The feeling that everything would be alright, because Leela wouldn't rest until she made it alright.

Fry lay and watched her breathe, trying to time his breath to hers. In. Out. In. Out. His nerves felt like fried wire. Why couldn't his stupid body be normal anymore? Why did it have to overreact to every little thing, like he was dying?

It was just a dream, he told himself. Don't be such a baby. Nothing even happened to you. Be cool, moron.

It didn't work, so he shut his eyes and breathed in the smell of Leela instead. Tried to focus on that.

Leela didn't wear perfume, except on dates. Mostly she just smelled like lotion and antiperspirant and shampoo. Unglamorous drugstore brands she bought in bulk and never changed, but Fry didn't care. They had a clean smell - a Leela smell. They weren't fussy or distracting. There were just there, the way Leela always was.

I love you, he thought. It was funny how strong the feeling was. It tugged at his solar plexus like an anchor. It didn't feel like something that could drown him anymore. The opposite. It was a steady feeling, now - rooting him to the world when the rest of him wanted to shatter and spin away.

"Leela?" he whispered. "Are you awake?"

Leela made a grouchy, half-awake sound and mumbled something at him.

"Um." Fry hesitated. "Does that mean yes? Or no?"

Leela made the noise again and slowly opened her eye.

"It means, I'm awake now," she said, yawning. "What time is it?"

"I don't know. Early, I guess. It's still dark."

Leela rubbed the sleep out of her eye.

"It's January," she said thickly. "In New New York. It stays dark half the day." She gave another huge yawn. "Do you know how long it's been since I slept that well?"

"Uh . . . no?"

"Me either." She sighed, shifting into a more comfortable position. "I was enjoying it."

"Sorry." Fry felt guilty. "I shouldn't have woken you."

"Mmm." Leela yawned again. "But now that I am awake . . . why are you?"

"It's dumb."

Leela fixed him with a bleary-eyed stare.

"Why don't you tell me," she said evenly. "And I'll be the judge of how dumb it is."

Leela had the most all-encompassing stare of anyone Fry had ever met. It was probably the eye. It didn't leave you anywhere to hide.

"I had a dream," Fry found himself admitting.

"Okay."

"A bad one. I was in that museum with all the heads, and the heads were all screaming at me. But they weren't heads. They were all people I knew. People I couldn't save from the Brains. They were looking at me a - and judging me, because I couldn't save them."

"Fry . . ."

Leela touched his hand.

Fry nodded quickly, blinking back tears.

"I know. I wasn't there. I couldn't have saved them. But it didn't feel like that, in the dream. It felt like they all blamed me. And then - I kept walking, and I started seeing more people. People who aren't even dead yet, but in my dream they were, and it was all my fault. They were looking at me and they knew -"

Leela stroked his cheek.

"You can't keep beating yourself up about this."

"I can't help it."

Leela sighed.

"I know. But you have to try."

Fry nodded.

"You were in the dream too," he told her.

"Me?"

"Yeah." Fry shuddered, remembering. "And the baby. But the baby was a bomb, and I . . . I set it off and blew everything up. Boom," he said dully. "You were crying. It was awful. I ruined everything, because you trusted me."

There was a moment of silence.

Leela swallowed.

"Well," she said at last. "You don't need to be the Mystic Megatron to figure that one out."

"You don't?"

"No, Fry." She sighed. "It's your guilt. Again."

There was another moment of quiet, as Leela thought.

"Alright. Listen to me carefully, because this is important. I didn't plan on you knocking me up. And yes, in a way, it ruined my life. But - in this one rare instance - that's not such a bad thing. This baby shook everything up, but a lot of good came out of all that mess. I freed my people. I confronted my feelings for you, which I probably should have done a long time ago. And . . . well . . . this baby scares the hell out of me, but I love her, Fry. I wouldn't give her up for the world."

She reached for his wrist. Fry's hand twitched in hers when he realized what she was doing and he tried to pull away, but Leela wouldn't let go.

"Stop being so afraid," she said firmly. She laid his palm flat on her stomach. "It's sweet, that you want to protect her. But you're not one of the things she needs protecting from."

"What if I am?"

"You're not."

Fry swallowed.

"I'm bad luck."

Leela gave him a hard look.

"No," she said, in the same firm, no-nonsense tone of voice. "You're not."

Fry couldn't think of anything to say to this. He wanted to tell her how he'd ruined her marriage; how people seemed to bleed and die all around him, everywhere he went; how even Bender didn't want to be near him anymore . . .

But when Leela looked at him like that, his conviction that it was all his fault seemed to fade somehow. It seemed to come from the broken part of his mind, like the nightmares and the zoning out, and suddenly he wasn't so sure.

Leela didn't seem to expect a response. She just waited, as if to see what he would do.

Fry let his fingers brush over the span of her stomach, curious despite himself. The bump felt warm, and more solid than he'd expected.

That was dumb. What had he expected it to feel like, a bowl of jello?

He'd probably touched it before. He just hadn't realized.

"It's warm," he said stupidly.

Leela nodded, still waiting.

And then something shifted under her skin. It felt like a gentle nudge from someone's knuckle, pushing up into his hand.

Fry bolted upright.

"Leela! Leela, it moved!"

Leela laughed.

"She does that. A lot, actually."

"I felt it!"

"Well, there you go. You're introduced. Say hi."

"No way," Fry breathed. He put his hand back on her stomach. "This is so cool. Can she hear me? Or is it like she's under the sea in there?"

Leela smiled.

"She can hear you. She responds to voices. She even has favorites."

Fry shifted closer, his reserve forgotten. He cupped Leela's bump in both hands and leaned in, resting his forehead on it.

"Hey," he said awkwardly. "Hi. Hell-oooo, baby. Can you hear me?"

The baby kicked him in answer, right between the eyes.

Fry burst out laughing.

"Alright! Bulls-eye!" He looked up at Leela, excited. "You think that means she likes me?"

Leela ruffled his hair.

"Probably."

Fry grinned up at her, then bent back to the baby.

"Hey, well, I like you too, baby. You're the neatest thing I ever saw. I know what you look like, because I saw a picture of you. You don't know what I look like, but that's okay. You can check me out when you're born. You won't be disappointed. I'll get a haircut, and a sweater vest! I'll look the part, I promise. Like a real dad. You won't have to be ashamed of me around all the other babies. I'll do everything right. I'll bring you a balloon, and one of those giant teddies babies get in the movies. Or maybe a giant balloon teddy -"

"Fry," Leela said mildly. "She's not interviewing you for the job. Relax."

Fry flushed.

"I know. I just don't want to let her down. She probably already thinks I'm a deadbeat because I wasn't around up to now. What if she knows? What if she's born and she's judging me? I mean, face it. She could do better."

Leela gave him a gentle shove on the shoulder.

"I think you're overestimating her," she said drily. "All babies do after birth is eat and sleep. Anyway, I'm sure she'll love you. You're easy to love. And you'll love her. That's all that matters, to a baby."

"You think?"

Fry put his ear against her stomach, listening for a response.

"Kick once if you think I'm a deadbeat," he said. "Kick twice if you think I'm a loser, but you're still okay with me being your dad."

Leela patted the side of her stomach, encouragingly.

"Kick three times to veto the sweater vests."

"Leela!"

"Well, if we're asking for her opinions . . ."

Fry sighed.

"She's not kicking. She thinks we're corny."

"Good." Leela stroked her stomach fondly. "Parents are supposed to embarrass their children. We're doing well."

Fry considered this.

"I'm gonna embarrass you so much," he assured the baby. "I'll tell dumb jokes and mack on your mom right in front of you, and I'll be a thousand years out of touch. You'll have to pretend you don't even know me, that's how embarrassing I'll be!"

"I can see we all have a lot to look forward to," Leela said in a diplomatic tone.

Fry grinned, and flopped back onto the pillow.

"We should give her a name."

"You can't name someone you've never met," Leela pointed out. "What if we pick a name and when she arrives, it doesn't suit her? It seems better to wait."

Fry looked at her askance.

"You mean you haven't even thought about names?"

"Not really, no."

"You don't even have a shortlist?"

"Fry, I don't even have a long list."

Fry felt almost offended.

"Leela! That's how you end up naming your baby after a screwdriver!" he insisted. "What if you get really tired after the birth, or you're loopy on drugs, and you let me name her? What if I panic and call her after Zoidberg?"

Leela considered it.

"That would probably challenge my love for you even more than the agony of child birth," she conceded at last.

"Right! See? We need options."

Leela sighed.

"Alright, alright. I'm open to suggestions."

"Leela."

"I'm listening."

"No, Leela!" Fry made a presenting motion with his hands. "Leela Jr!"

"Lord, no. I'm not naming my baby after myself."

"Why not? It's what we did in my family. My brother Yancy was named after our father, Yancy, and he was named after his grandfather Yancy, who was named after his -"

Leela held up her hands to forestall him.

"It's not the same thing. That's a family tradition. If we named her after me it'd just be vain."

"Aw, fine."

"What else you got?"

"Munda," Fry suggested. "Amy? LaBarbara?"

Leela rolled her eye.

"Now you're just naming every woman you know."

Fry shrugged, conceding the point.

"Okay. How about Sarah?"

Leela looked at him slantways.

"That better not be the name of one of your ex girlfriends," she warned.

"What? No! Sarah! Sarah Connor. From the Terminator movies! You have to know who Sarah Connor is."

Leela frowned.

"Doesn't she end up in the nut house?"

"No, no, no." Fry shook his head. "She breaks out of the nut house. And then she goes on the run and fights Terminators. Like a badass!"

"I see."

"Right?" Fry nodded sagely. "That's inspiration for any growing kid."

Leela sighed.

"I'll consider it. Any other ideas?"

"Um . . . Uhura? Furiosa? Leia!"

"No, no, and . . . no."

"Wanda."

"No."

"Buffy?'

"No."

"Scully. Xena. Ripley!"

"No, no again . . ." Leela hesitated. "I don't hate Ripley."

"You don't?"

"No." Leela thought for a minute. "It's a maybe," she said at last.

"Two maybes!" Fry said triumphantly. "See, we're getting somewhere. I feel better already."

Leela patted his arm.

"Let's not get ahead of ourselves. I still think we should consider some names that don't come from ancient action movies. But you're right, we're making progress. It feels good."

Fry reached out to touch her stomach again. Maybe he shouldn't be so touchy, but Leela didn't seem to mind. And part of him just couldn't stop. It felt more real, when his future was nudging back under his fingertips.

"We're really having a baby," he said softly.

Leela nodded.

"We really are."

"We made her. You and me. Out of . . ."

Fry made an inarticulate wiggly motion with his hand. Even he wasn't sure what he meant to say. Out of nothing? Out of sex?

People made babies every day. It was a fact of life. Fry had never really thought about it that deeply, until Leela told him he'd made one with her. Until he saw her, in grainy black and white. And then it felt like a miracle. A real one. Suddenly he knew why people called it that. They weren't just being corny.

"It's like magic," he said.

Leela didn't say anything. She just watched him.

"Sometimes I think that too," she admitted at last. "As corny as it is."

There was another moment of quiet, in the half-dark. Leela was giving him that stare again - quiet and intent, as if she was trying to memorize every detail of his face. Her hair was a violet smudge against the pillow. He could feel the rise and fall of her breathing.

Fry dipped down and kissed her. She looked too perfect not to.

He felt her melt under the heat of his mouth, easing open under him.

That moment. Fry didn't think he'd ever get tired of it. There was always a moment like this when he kissed her, a moment when Leela seemed to melt under him like taffy, and it felt . . .

He didn't know how to describe how it felt. Like being kicked in the heart, in a good way. It was the feeling that made him want to write songs about her, that made whole symphonies burst into being in his head, even now.

Especially now.

"I love you," he told her, just because he could.

Leela laughed. The moment was so still it was carried on a breath, but it was still a laugh.

"I love you too," she whispered.

Fry kissed her again. He was too tired to put any real heat behind it, but Leela didn't seem to mind. It wasn't that kind of moment.

"Leela?"

"Uh huh?"

Fry pulled back to watch her face.

"I was thinking." He fiddled with the end of her hair, trying to look casual. "I don't have a place to live anymore, and you don't either, and with the baby and all . . . maybe we could find a new place. To live. You know, together."

Leela stared at him.

Fry backpedalled.

"But only if you want! Maybe. It was just an idea. You don't have to say yes. Forget I said anything. It was a dumb idea! You wouldn't want to live with me. Forget about it."

Leela was quiet for so long Fry felt his face begin to burn.

"That depends," she said at last.

"It does?" Fry felt an unexpected ray of hope. "On what?"

Leela considered.

"I'm not your mother," she said slowly. "And I'm not your maid. I know how guys are when they move in with you. I went through it all with my exes. Sean, and Alcazar . . ." She shook her head. "I won't clean up after you, and I don't want to live in a sty. If we moved in together, you'd have to pull your weight."

"I can do that."

"I mean it, Fry. I know what a slob you can be. And I won't have time to teach you. It'll be hard enough adjusting to a baby. If we do this, we need to be partners. You can't let me do all the work."

Fry absorbed this.

"Okay."

"Okay? That's it?" Leela frowned. "I thought you'd put up more of a fight."

Fry shook his head.

"That would be dumb. You're right. I am a slob, and you deserve better. I don't want to be like Sean and Alcazar. Those guys were sleazy and they treated you like dirt. I don't want to be like that. I want to be the kind of guy who . . . who puts up shelves, and makes you fancy omelets. Like a real man! You deserve that."

"Uh . . . fancy omelets?"

"Or soup. Or . . . ooh, creme brulee! With the little blowtorch that makes it all crispy on top." Fry mimed bubbling sugar. "Whatever you want. You're worth it."

Leela nudged him.

"That all sounds very sweet. But I think you got sidetracked making your point."

"Oh, right. I guess the menu doesn't matter. The point is -" Fry squared his shoulders and sat up a little straighter "- it's time for me to man up and change some diapers! And do the dishes. And figure out how to do laundry without turning all your tank tops pink. On my own!"

"That's the gist of it."

"And if I could do all that . . ." Fry swallowed, his heart hammering. "We could live together?"

"I don't need fancy omelets," Leela said quietly. "I don't need fancy anything. I just need to feel like I'm not on my own."

"Like you can count on me."

"Basically."

Fry nodded.

"Then I'll prove it to you," he vowed. "I'll go on the internet and learn how to do everything I was too lazy to do before. And all the stuff my parents never taught me. Like how to grout tile, and how to get bird's nests out of the chimney. I'll be a real man. You'll be proud of me. You'll see!"

"I am proud of you," Leela told him. "But if you could do basic household chores, I'd be even prouder. And then . . . we could get a place. Maybe." She smiled shyly. "It would be nice to have you around all the time."

"It would?"

Leela traced the line of his shoulder with her fingertip.

"You do brighten up the place."

Her tone was casual, but Fry could hear her smiling underneath. It made his heart stutter stupidly in his chest.

He flopped back onto the bed, smiling up at her.

"We could have a garden," he said suddenly. "With daffodils in the spring. And an apple tree, like we had in my yard when I was a kid. And those little purple flowers people put in window boxes, by the window."

"A garden?" Leela laughed. "In New New York?"

"We could live outside the city. We could fly in for work."

Leela stopped laughing when she realized he was serious.

"You'd leave the city?"

Fry held up his hands.

"Hey, I'm not crazy. I'm not saying we should leave the state. Or go live in Ohio or something. But . . . we could get out of the city. If you wanted."

Leela had gone still again, watching him through the dark. Fry wished he could make out the look on her face.

And then, at last . . .

"I'm listening," she said softly. An invitation for him to go on.

"We could get a house," Fry said carefully, feeling the dream take shape around him. "Not an apartment. A real house, just for us. And we could have a whole room for the baby, and paint it . . . I don't know . . ."

"Yellow," Leela murmured.

Fry nodded.

"Yeah, yellow . . . but not in-your-face yellow like a banana. Baby yellow. Like duckling fuzz."

"We could get her a night light. One that looks like the night sky."

"Yeah! But a real night sky. With tiny stars and moons, and planets! And nebulas. In color."

Leela hummed her agreement.

"Like when you look out the window on the ship."

"We could put Nibbler's basket in the corner, so he could guard her. And if she woke up in the night, he could sing to her to get her back to sleep. Or snuggle with her. Like a teddy bear!"

Leela breathed out another laugh. She was getting sleepy.

"We could put Bender in the basement," she said fuzzily.

Fry blinked.

"You'd let Bender live with us?"

Leela yawned.

"Well, we can't just leave him to his own devices." She rubbed her eye. "But we'd have to lay down some ground rules. No boozing. No floozy-bots. No being a bad influence on the baby."

Fry snorted.

"That's impossible." He hesitated. "You think Bender would really live in our basement?"

"Sure." Leela stifled another yawn. "Call it his den of depravity. He'll love it."

"You really think so?"

Leela let her eye drift shut.

"He'd live in a shoe box to be close to you," she mumbled.

She was falling asleep, Fry realized.

He brushed her hair out of her eye, and listened to the change in her breathing.

"I'd live in a shoe if I could live in it with you," he whispered.

Leela made a sleepy sound that might have been agreement, and wound her fingers through his.

Maybe she hadn't heard him. Maybe it didn't matter.

"I love you," he told her, but Leela was already asleep.

Fry breathed out, timing his breaths to hers again. Feeling calmer.

"It's okay," he told the sleeping Leela. "I'll tell you again tomorrow."