I do not own Samurai Jack.
I love this show and I love Jack and Ashi so have some Samurai Dad fluff.
Lingering on the edge of the sprawling grassy field, Ashi regarded the creatures that stood a distance away. She tilted her head to the side, studying as the four-legged creatures grazed, tails flicking in the air and muscles flexing as they shifted. Now that she was no longer blinded by her mother's corruption, she could see the world through her own eyes, and she could not believe the beauty that had been surrounding her this whole time.
A touch to her shoulder jolted her out of her awed gazing. She silently cursed herself, for though she was now free to make her own choices, she did not have time to waste gawking at livestock. There was an important mission at hand, one she could not be distracted from.
"Sorry," she apologized, turning to face Jack. "I should not get distracted so easily."
"It's fine," he assured. He glanced at the trio of animals and said thoughtfully, "It has been some time since I've seen horses."
"Horses?" Ashi tested the word on her tongue. "Is that what they are?"
"Have you never seen horses before?"
She gave a shake of her head. "We didn't have need for such useless knowledge. The only nature I ever glimpsed was through the gaps in the cave where we lived, and those were rare."
Jack felt a swell of remorse for all the girl had missed out on, and a rush of anger towards the woman who used her as an object to achieve her own desires. "I suppose you've never ridden one."
The stunned expression she cast him was almost comical, and he had to bite down on his lip to keep from laughing. "You can ride them?"
"If you know how, yes."
"Do you know how?"
"I do." For a brief instant, Jack experienced flashes of memories, of learning to ride in the dusty deserts of India. "Would you like to learn?"
"Oh—no, it's fine. We should continue on our journey."
But she could not disguise the longing that appeared in her dark eyes, and that settled it for Jack. Extending a hand towards her, he promised, "We will not take long."
Hesitating for a brief moment, Ashi took his hand and allowed him to lead her across the field. "Won't they run when they see us?"
"Not if we show them we are friendly. Now, do we still have—yes, here they are."
Reaching into the satchel slung over his shoulder, Jack removed two apples they had picked earlier that day. When the horses noticed them, they straightened and started pawing at the ground threateningly. Jack did not seem concerned, pressing an apple into Ashi's hand.
"Do not be afraid," he said softly, holding out his apple towards the white horse. "We are your friends."
Suspicious, the horse sniffed the apple and Jack's arm. Eventually deciding him not to be a threat, he took a bite of the fruit and whinnied happily. His chestnut-maned friend ventured towards Ashi and she fed him the apple, smiling at the ticklish sensation of his tongue against her skin. She cautiously patted his muzzle, encouraged when he leaned into her touch.
"We mount. Watch."
Jack gently took a bit of his horse's mane and swung one leg over, using the momentum to hoist himself into a sitting position. Ashi tried to copy his movements, but promptly fell backwards onto her bottom. Disgruntled, she got to her feet and brushed herself off.
"Why didn't it work for me?"
"I am a bit taller than you are, so I am able to reach. You need to pull yourself up a little more in order to get your leg over. Would you like a hand?"
"No," said Ashi determinedly. "I got it."
She tried again, managing to hook her leg over the horse's back but unable to keep her hold. She crashed back to the ground. This process was repeated several more times, and her agitation was clear by her tenth failed try.
Jack eased off of his horse and approached Ashi, helping her to her feet. "Let me help you once, so you can see how it is meant to feel."
He guided her hand to grasp some mane by the withers, and held her up by the waist so she could hook one leg over his back. He kept her hold as she wiggled her way over, soon getting into position. Her breath caught in her throat as she gazed from her high viewpoint, the breeze tickling her hair.
Smiling at her awe, Jack agreed, "It is."
"I think I can do it myself now."
Ashi slid to the ground and tried again. She was almost over the horse's back but lost her balance, but instead of striking cold hard earth she landed in a pair of solid arms. Setting her back to her feet, Jack said, "No need for unnecessary bruises."
He was not irritated by her failures and did not leave her side, continuously catching her whenever she fell. He did not get angry with her, and it was a stark contrast to how her mother trained her with cruelty. Ashi felt herself relax and she took a few deep breaths, eyes narrowing with focus. She swung herself over the horse's back, a triumphant grin crossing her features when she stayed in place.
"Very good," praised Jack. "Keep your shoulders back, and look past the horse's ears."
He showed her how to properly sit and she adjusted her position. When she was set, he started to lead the horse around the field. Ashi wobbled slightly, but he reached up to help keep her balance. It took her a bit before she got used to the feeling, and Jack eventually let go.
The horse walked on his own, Ash bouncing with each movement. She gently nudged his sides to get him to stop and tugged on his mane to change direction, as Jack had instructed her. She grinned at the sensation, the horse's muscles moving beneath her.
Jack kept an attentive eye on her, watching for the slightest indication that she was about to fall. Though she had shown clear frustration over her unsuccessful efforts, she hadn't given up. It was a mix of stubbornness and dedication, and she reminded him of himself when he was young.
"How was that?" asked Ashi hopefully, returning to Jack's side.
"That is very good," said Jack proudly. "You learn very quickly."
"Thanks." Ashi stroked the horse's head. "I never thought this was possible. Thanks for showing me."
"It is my pleasure." Jack patted the creature's side, adding, "Thank you, friend, for your cooperation."
"Maybe next time you could show me how to go faster?" she asked, beginning to lift her leg so she could dismount. But she was slightly off-balance and she started to fall for the umpteenth time that day.
Jack easily caught her. He set her on the grass and idly brushed a strand of hair away from her face. "Perhaps another day."
"After we defeat Aku."
It was said so surely, so matter-of-factly, that Jack paused for a moment. Her confidence and faith in him was immense, despite having known him for such a short time. Warmth swelled within him and he confirmed, "After we defeat Aku."
Ashi still had much to learn about the world and it's wonders, and Jack very much wanted to be the one to teach her.