Content warnings: Allusions to abuse, otherwise none.
Notes: Written for Jashi Week: Table for Two.
Jack took the four sticks out of the boiling kettle of water, then lay them across a piece of cloth. They weren't easy to scavenge for in a desert as desolate as this one, but he was able to find a few amidst their firewood that were thin enough just to do.
He smiled to himself as he picked up one of the sticks and began peeling the outer bark off to reveal its sleek, inner bark. It was something he enjoyed doing as a boy, and the magic of it clearly hadn't worn off for him, especially knowing it could be crafted into something of use. Especially when he intended on sharing it with another. He moved on to the next stick, his chest swelling with excitement, repeating the process and gliding his thumb in admiration against the inner bark.
The sticks now all stripped clean of their outer bark, Jack took out a dagger and slowly, carefully, began whittling one of the sticks.
"I brought dinner," said Ashi, dropping her usual bounty of larva-slugs by the campfire.
"And I have made utensils for us to eat it with!"
Jack beamed proudly as he held out his handiwork: two sets of chopsticks.
"Oh!" exclaimed Ashi, picking up a pair. "I've always wanted to use these. I remember my sisters and I would watch our mother and the rest of the cult dining with them and…"
Ashi stopped talking and looked down at her boots, forlorn.
"…sorry, I just made things awkward, didn't I?"
"No, no!" said Jack, waving a hand in sympathy, "I have already told you many stories of my home. You are more than welcome to share your own, if you are comfortable with it."
Ashi crouched down to skewer their meal, then held it over the open flame.
"This story isn't a very long or happy one. My sisters and I would watch the cult dining, in secret. We were expected to hunt for our food, with no bowls or utensils provided--they weren't important to our mission…or that's what we inferred. When one of my sisters asked Mother about when we could have our own…well, let's just say that's how we found out that we weren't supposed to be watching these dinners in the first place. The hard way."
"I'm…terribly sorry to hear that," said Jack, closing his eyes mournfully. "Ashi…you and your sisters deserved a loving family. If there's any way I can take you back to my own time, you'd be more than welcome to become a part of mine."
"Thank you, Jack," said Ashi, a gentle smile tugging at her lips.
"I made these chopsticks in hopes of sharing a bit of my home…and family, with you." Jack held up his pair. "It may not be much, but…let's make up for lost time, shall we?"
"I finally get to have my first meal with chopsticks," said Ashi, inspecting the tenderness of their meal with her pair. Satisfied, she plucked a chunk from it and set it down in front of Jack. "It would be my pleasure to share that with you."