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Science, Prayer, and Snackoos

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"These were their last five bags." Nahyuta stifled a chuckle as Ema made grabby hands for the treats. At six months pregnant, standing up was more of a chore, especially when one was seated on a comfy couch with a laptop perched on her baby bump. He sat the bags in a row on the couch's arm and watched her happily tear into the first one.

"How long before they restock their supply?" she asked, her mouth already full.

"Going by the last two times the shops completely ran out, I would week," Nahyuta said. Ema swallowed, glanced at the bags, and whimpered.

"That long?!" She sighed. "I guess I'll have to make these last, then. That's gonna be weird." Despite her claim to Apollo and Athena that she'd given up Snackoos and stress, Nahyuta knew that even complete career satisfaction couldn't kill her love of the treats. Thankfully, she wasn't picky, and he'd made sure to get some of her other favorites to make rationing easier.

"I doubt they'll be running out of those fruit pies or sponge cake cylinders anytime soon," he said as he began to put away the rest of the groceries. "I'll be preparing grilled fish with steamed vegetables tonight. I may support your love of unhealthy snack treats, but our child still needs proper nutrition. And no spicy peppers, either, I've heard they cause heartburn and could negatively impact a fetus's developing respiratory system." Ema rolled her eyes, chomping away on two more Snackoos.

"I know pregnant women have to eat healthy, but you're taking it way too far," she said. "No doctor has ever said spicy peppers are bad for babies! Er, while they're inside, anyway. Obviously you wouldn't feed an actual baby hot peppers!"

"Better safe than sorry, as the mothers and fathers of your culture say." Nahyuta put away the last of the produce and joined his wife on the couch, gently moving the laptop out of the way. "It's not good to rest electronics on your stomach, either."

"Let me guess, the magnetic internet waves could screw with the baby's brain?" Ema stuffed a few more Snackoos into her mouth before reluctantly closing the bag. "Oh, well, that thing was getting uncomfortable sitting there anyway." She drank the last of a bottle of iced tea he guessed had been sitting there since that morning, wiped her mouth on her sleeve, and snuggled close to him. Nahyuta smiled, wrapping an arm around her, his other hand splaying across her belly.

"And how is the jewel of our lives today?" he murmured. "Quiet, I see."

"She'll start kicking up a storm within the hour. I've been keeping track of her patterns," Ema said. "I'm just glad she decides to be the most active while I'm awake! According to Lana, I used to keep our mother up every night."

"I've heard Rayfa gave my own mother just as much of a struggle," Nahyuta sighed. Even though he and Rayfa were getting along fairly well these days, it was hard not to feel regret at having missed out on her childhood. Raised by their selfish aunt, the closest thing she'd had to a father killed, her true mother so close yet so far away, and no older brother to comfort her when she doubted herself. Our precious child will never know such pain, he thought, running his hand slowly up and down Ema's swollen abomen. She caught it, lacing their fingers together.

"Stop feeling guilty," she scolded. Even without an ability like Apollo's or Athena's, she could still read him like a book. "Rayfa's still young, you have plenty of time to undo the damage your aunt did." She chuckled. "She's finally calling you by your real name, that's gotta count for something!"

"It does, yes. Unfortunately, if she keeps spending so much time with Datz she'll be calling me Yuty in no time," Nahyuta groaned playfully. "Not that I'm surprised. He still intends to teach Faitah Inmee the Defiant Dragons pose, no matter how much Lady Beh'leeb begs him not to." Ema frowned, reaching for her opened bag of cookies.

"Promise you'll never let Datz feed our child sewer lizards or teach him to peel apples with weapons," she said. Nahyuta nudged her hand away from the treats.

"He won't. Not if he wants to be allowed to babysit." He patted her belly. "Now stop fretting. That's not good for her, either."

"I love how we both just assume it's going to be a girl," Ema laughed. "Scientifically speaking, both genders have a fifty-fifty chance, and a simple test could give us the answer."

"It could, yes," Nahyuta said. "Yet the element of surprise is one of the joys of parenthood, I've been told." He shifted, resting his cheek against her belly. "But regardless of gender, all I want is for our child to be healthy and know nothing but love, peace, and the embrace of the Holy Mother." He smiled. "The Holy Mother is gentle, forgiving, and embraces those who walk the path of justice and righteousness." Ema snorted, giving his braid a gentle tug.

"I still can't believe you're giving sermons to a fetus. I know babies can hear in the womb after a certain amount of time, but what makes you think she'll understand anything you're saying?"

"And what makes you think she understands the wonders of science you continue to tell her about every night in the bath?" Nahyuta countered, smirking up at her. Ema blushed.

"You can hear me?"

"The walls separating our room from the bathroom aren't as thick, remember?"

"Oh, right." Ema smiled sheepishly. Nahyuta sat up again, hugging her as close as her size would allow.

"At least she'll grow up knowing the value of both science and mysticism," he said.

"And Snackoos." Ema patted the bag still sitting next to her. Nahyuta smiled wryly, toying with a lock of her hair.

"We'll see. And you're lucky I made sure there were no dangerous ingredients or other risks that could come from a steady diet of those," he said. "Other than too much sugar, but thankfully you tested negative for gestational diabetes." Ema scrunched up her nose, stuffing a cookie into her mouth and crunching loudly.

"Lucky for you, too. It's a known fact that pregnant ladies get cranky when they're denied their chocolate!"

"Just keep in mind you have a checkup next week," he reminded her.

"I know, I know." She wiped her mouth on her sleeve. "Don't worry, I'll be good until then." She always was, and then afterwards she'd celebrate her good results with double the sugar she ate normally. Frankly, it was a miracle she was in such good health with the amount she consumed. "I still think you're worrying too much!"

"I'm going to be a father. It's what fathers are supposed to do, remember?" He kissed her briefly, then slid off the couch and removed her socks. "Now, how about I rub your feet before I make us some lunch?" Ema gave him a slightly chocolate-stained grin.

"Sounds wonderful. They really need it today!" And then, she gasped. "Ooh...she's early this afternoon. Then again, since when do babies keep schedules?" Nahyuta laughed softly as he began to caress her left foot. Parenting would be quite the adventure, no matter how many books or studies they read in preparation.

Then again, none of the books said a word about keeping a pregnant wife in Snackoos. So maybe they didn't have all of the answers.