Disclaimer: I do NOT own Samurai Jack or anything related to it.
"You deserve to be happy," he said. And meant it. She deserved the joy he so often glimpsed on her face when Rowan was near—deserved the wicked laughter she shared with Aedion, the comfort and teasing with Lysandra. She deserved happiness, perhaps more than anyone."
— Sarah J. Maas (Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass, #4))
In his long life on this earth, the emperor had experienced this emotion more times than he could count. From the anger of Aku laying waste to his empire twice, having to send his son away and miss the boy's childhood for the greater good, be separated from his wife as well, the revelation that his son had spent fifty years in the future, and currently to the loss of his would-be daughter-in-law.
When he saw his son, battered and bruised but alive, relief and joy overwhelmed the confusion regarding the girl beside him, as well as why she called him 'Jack'. Yet he could not care less in that moment. His son was alive. He had fulfilled his destiny. Aku was dead. They were saved at long last.
But the emperor had no idea how long they had truly awaited their savior. The grief in the prince's eyes as he explained his initial failure to defeat Aku and how Ashi had saved him from committing seppuki was heart-wrenching.
Words could not describe the gratitude the emperor felt to Ashi for being there for his son when he could not. The empress had hugged the girl, declaring her their princess without hesitation. The crowd cheered as their long lost prince and soon-to-be princess shared a kiss in front of them all.
Joy filled all of them as they spent days rebuilding and making wedding preparations. Smiles decorated everyone's faces as the bride was escorted down the aisle...only to falter when she fell and the groom rushed to her. His son's tearful utterance of Ashi's name tore his heart apart.
No one understood. Why had she vanished? What was her connection to Aku? The prince had said she saved his life as much he saved hers, but not how they met.
The empress fell to her knees beside the prince to embrace him. He cried into his mother's shoulder whilst screaming about the unfairness of the situation and in that moment, the emperor did not see the grown man who spent years traveling the world to train, but that eight-year-old boy whose innocence had been stomped upon by Aku. And he saw a child of lost innocence within Ashi as well.
In his tears the prince confessed everything about Ashi. Her mother had been a deranged cult leader obsessed with Aku who abused Ashi and her sisters, viewing them as weapons instead of human beings. His son killed all of them in self-defense except for Ashi. He was able to convince her of the truth about Aku and gain her trust, companionship, and love in return. Their lost innocence had brought them together and united them as one.
Ashi deserved better. She, like his son, had sacrificed so much, only to lose her chance at happiness. He could not, would not, stand by and watch his son suffer from a broken heart nor allow this poor girl to be forgotten.
And so he made a decision: it was time to have a chat with a certain divine trio.
The emperor tightly gripped onto Sleipnir as they rode to the top of the same mountain where Rama, Odin, and Ra forged the sword, which was in its sheath at his side because his son could not look at it anymore after destroying Aku. The memories, he claimed, were too painful. That thought only increased the emperor's anger. He could not bear to see the sadness in his son's eyes whenever he thought of Ashi or the future he was forcibly flung into. His greatest fear had been her becoming just a memory, in his own words, and now that that fear had come true, he was broken.
Still, it surprised the emperor when Sleipnir appeared after he yelled at the heavens to answer his call. Not an unpleasant surprise, of course, and he would have continued calling out to them if they had not responded the first time.
He calmly dismounted the horse before making his way inside. No wonder or fear affected him; he was not the confused, frightened young man Sleipnir had brought here following Aku's birth. He was an old man with a mission far greater than slaying a monster: saving a loved one. Then again, that had always been his intention through defeating Aku, just as it had been his son's.
"Emperor." Odin's voice was followed by a flash of light. The emperor shielded his eyes with his arm. The light vanished and those whom he sought to speak to appeared before him. Odin stood in between his fellow deities as the emperor stepped forward, lifted his chin, and narrowed his eyes at them. They gazed down at him with an icy calmness that would have unsettled an ordinary man. Luckily, 'ordinary' was not a word that applied to the emperor or anyone in his family.
"We trust you have a good reason for disturbing us?" Odin spoke, irritation surrounding every syllable.
"You knew." The emperor spat out bitterly. They were gods. Of course they knew.
"You shall have to elaborate." Ra said."What are you referring to?"
The emperor scowled."You know full well what, or rather whom, I am referring to."
"Ah." Rama nodded."The eldest daughter of Aku. Ashi, is her name, yes?"
"Do not ask questions you already know the answer to. Or are you not all-knowing, after all? Because if you were, I would think you would have intervened to save Ashi's life."
"We cannot save the life of someone who does not exist."
"You could have stopped her from fading from existence!" He did not care how dangerous it was to raise his voice to gods.
"You wish for us to restore her." Odin stated the obvious. The emperor nodded, to which Odin said,"Why should we do that?"
"It is the least you can do for my son after the losses and trauma he has suffered during his quest. Has he not done enough to deserve some joy in his life? The woman he loves sacrificed herself to bring him home and he blames himself for her fate!" His fists were clenched so harshly that his nails dug into his palms and drew blood. It was then that he realized his anger was consuming him, and he forced himself to calm down with a deep breath. Losing control would benefit no one, especially his son and Ashi. For their sakes, he needed to be calm.
Shutting his eyes, he whispered,"Please. I cannot see his tears or listen to his cries anymore. Nor can I stand the thought of an innocent girl being wiped from existence for an act of selflessness." He dropped to his knees, unsheathed the sword, and placed it on the ground."Take the sword back if you wish. Neither he nor I have further use or desire for it. But I beg of you to restore Ashi. Do not let he who saved the world from Aku's tyranny suffer any longer."
The gods looked at one another, pondering his demands-turned-pleas. Then they spoke in unison."We will not take the sword back. We forged it to fight evil. Simply because Aku is dead does not mean the world is free of evil. Return the sword to your son, emperor, and tell him what we have told you, but first..."
His eyes snapped open as they trailed off and he looked up with happiness overtaking his facial features."You mean-" He cut himself off and shielded his eyes again as yellow light burst from each deity's eyes to a random spot in midair. He sheathed the sword, stood, and stepped back as the light faded.
Something, no, someone was descending. Ashi, unconscious and clad in the same shiromuku she had worn during the failed wedding. Gently as a leaf she landed on the floor, eyes still shut in peaceful slumber.
"Go, now, emperor." Rama said."And give your family our regards."
The ground beneath the emperor's feet and Ashi's body suddenly became a cloud and they were being levitated on the cloud through the sky like so many years ago when he received the sword. Within minutes he could see his home nearby and his wife and subjects gathering to greet them. But where was his son?
No sooner had the cloud disappeared upon landing, than the neighing of a horse pierced his ears. No one had been able to react to the sight of Ashi due to the very timely arrival of the prince.
The empress knelt down beside Ashi as the younger woman stirred and assisted her in sitting up. The prince's horse came to a stop directly in front of them. The emperor and empress noticed a look of shock and disbelief on his face that matched Ashi's own expression. Ashi allowed the empress to help her to her feet while Jack dismounted his horse and took a single step closer so their faces were inches apart.
"Ashi?" His voice was barely above a whisper. She only bit her lip and nodded.
An eternity passed before he brought a trembling hand to touch her face, but froze as if terrified she would fade away again if he touched her. She smiled, grasped his wrist, and pulled it closer so he could cup her cheek.
"H-How?" He choked out, tears pricking his eyelids.
The emperor cleared his throat to briefly get their attention and stepped forward with the sword in its sheath."The gods were kind enough to do this. They also said I should give this back to you."
But before the younger man could think to reach for the sword or thank his father, Ashi lunged at him and wrapped her arms around his neck with a sob. His knees buckled as he sank to the ground with her. They were clinging to one another with a desperation that both saddened and touched their audience.
The empress sat down and hugged the couple. Not a second later, the emperor knelt down and wrapped his arms around the three most important people in his life.
Tears were shed, but not of sorrow. No, these were tears of joy.
So, in the aftermath of the finale, I really needed to write something with a happy ending for Jashi to make myself stop crying. Don't get me wrong, I wept while writing it, but finishing it has comforted me a bit. I decided to have the emperor convince the gods to restore Ashi because I wanted to show him somehow reacting to the truth about Ashand Jack other than just a wordless stare like in the show. This isn't my best work and comes across as 'meh' to me, but like I said, I needed to write something happy to make myself feel better so there you have it. I also avoided referring to Jack by his nickname since I wanted to stick with the show leaving his real name unknown whilst also avoiding his father calling him by an unfamiliar nickname. Please remember to review, leave constructive criticism, but no flames!