Disclaimer: I don't own Samurai Jack. If I did, this would be the actual ending.

Beautiful Times

They all knew what she had tried to do, and Aku grinned in triumph when there was no time portal to be found. It seemed that Ashi hadn't inherited all of her father's powers, and as she and Jack stood in bewilderment, Aku saw his opening.

"Now it's time for a punishment, you impudent girl." Aku said, carrying on his fatherly act before shaping his arm into a mallet-type object and slamming it into the stunned girl, sending her flying. She slammed into one of the spiky pillars where she plummeted to the floor. She didn't move.

"Ashi!" The attack on her immediately awoke Jack, who turned back to Aku in fury. This...thing had taken everything from him. His home, his family, his childhood, his whole life. And now, at last, he had dared to harm Ashi. Jack's hands trembled in rage as he tightened his grip on his sword. "Do not touch her." he demanded in a low voice. As he charged at Aku, Jack knew he ought to keep his anger in check – something he'd take care of when Aku was no more. "Now or ever!" he shouted, cutting Aku's hand when it reached for him.

Aku pulled back as though he'd been burned, which he probably had given that a chunk of the hand was disintegrating like burning wood. In moments though, he regenerated his hand and scowled down at the samurai. Jack scowled back before leaping up, his sword slicing into Aku again and again. The trouble was that he kept regenerating just as quickly, but this went on for only a few seconds before they were interrupted.

A loud, high, yet droning noise that Jack vulgarly recognized as bagpipes blared through the air, causing them both to crumble. The Scotsmen was channeling what Jack could only imagine was more of that Celtic magic he'd spoken of and the blue pulses it omitted seemed to be hurting Aku. Jack forced himself to endure the noise as the old friends looked at each other in understanding. The Scotsmen stopped his mystical notes just long enough to tell Jack;

"Now's yer chance, Jack! Get 'im!"

Jack didn't need to be told twice. He ran as fast as his feet could carry him and began hacking. Still fighting off the pain and constant noise, Aku was having trouble regenerating quick enough to keep up with Jack. He was most seriously hurt when Jack struck him in the middle of shape-shifting. He must have been most vulnerable in the moments his powers were in use, or perhaps it was due to the bagpipes. Taking advantage of this moment, Jack struck his sword into Aku and rather then whatever he'd meant to morph into, he was absorbed into the sword.

Jack's sword went completely black as he'd expected. He set the tip of the blade to the floor, and the black seeped out of the sword and reformed into a dazed Aku, who groaned in discomfort. Jack remembered all of this, and if Aku tried to create another time portal, he was ready to leap out of the way. He was too close now. Once more taking advantage of his foes dazed state, Jack sliced Aku into pieces, slashing each piece into nothingness.

Aku was soon reduced to a small head. He seemed unable to reform thanks to the double whammy of the sword and bagpipes. The now panicky head began slithering away pitifully, and Jack was quick to dash after it, thrusting his sword in through the top. Aku seemed to melt into the ground. Black spread from the one spot throughout the floor, climbing up the pillars and walls. Somehow, Jack knew it was time to leave and his mind instantly went to Ashi.

"Jack, what's happenin'?" the Scotsmen called down to him.

"We must leave!" Jack called up to him. "Tell everyone you can! Get away from here as quickly as possible!"

"On it!" the ghost nodded and zoomed away as the pillars started cracking. Jack ran over to the still unconscious Ashi and gathered her in his arms. Once she was secure, Jack looked around frantically for a way out. His heart thumped in alarm when he found nothing and he drew Ashi's body close to him protectively.

"Jack!" Jack looked up, his eyes widening at a voice he hadn't heard in decades and he saw some sort of craft lowering toward him. It opened, revealing the familiar canine friend of his, Sir Rothchild, who Jack thought was looking pretty good for a fifty plus year old dog. "Hurry, get in!"

"Thank you, my friend." Jack said as he climbed into the craft. There was a human sized space behind Rothchild where Jack took his seat, Ashi in his lap. As soon as the door closed, the craft lifted, gaining speed as it ascended out of the dark castle, which was now littered with explosions. Ashi's eyes opened and lifted to dazedly looked up at Jack. Before he could even notice she was awake, the exhaustion overtook her again and she fell back into unconsciousness. He was looking through a window back at the castle in time to see it collapse with a particularly large explosion at the base.

"It is over. Finally." Jack told himself, calming down and allowing his victory to sink in. Aku was dead. He was finally gone. Through the shinny reflection from the windshield, Jack saw that Rothchild was beginning to tear up, and his tail was thrashing vigorously from side to side. A couple of times the dog attempted a 'thank you, to Jack, but his voice was lost in a cry. Jack gave him a small, reassuring smile.

It hadn't even been an an hour since the escape and everything was unnaturally quite. Most of the army had retreated back to their homes, with only a handful of people accompanying Jack to the inn he had chosen to relax in.

Jack stepped out of the washroom feeling refreshed. The room he'd rented was a simple room with two beds, one of which Ashi was still laying in. The Scotsmen, Rothchild and the leader of the Trisera quins were all waiting for him. He instantly looked at Rothchild, who was standing on a chair between the beds and leaning over Ashi.

"How is she?" Jack asked, annoyed by the alarm in his voice. He had just vanquished Aku, the personification of evil, the one he was destined to face. He'd spent a good chunk of his shower calming himself down, but Ashi could so easily get such a raise out of him. He wasn't sure at this point if that was a good thing or a bad thing.

"All of her vital signs are perfectly in order." Rothchild told him, hopping off of the chair. "I believe what she needs most is simply rest. Personally, that layer of dark magic covering her worries me more than any injuries she may have."

"Thank the Gods." Jack whispered and walked passed the dog to the head of the bed. He crouched down beside her; it seemed he had not heard anything beyond how she was basically okay. In fact, he didn't seem to notice anyone else in the room apart from her.

"Jack?" the leader of the Trisera quins asked. When Jack didn't respond, he repeated with a shout, "Jack!" The samurai finally looked away from the girl, the leader at last getting his attention. Thanks to the betrayal of Jack from his people decades ago, he'd jumped at the chance to redeem himself, however small. Jack's simple request had been for something for Ashi to wear, just in case the darkness did away with her clothes from the prison. What the leader held up was nothing more than a white gown, but it would do.

"Thank you." Jack said simply.

"No, Jack." the leader said, looking back at them as he hung the gown on the doorknob to the washroom. "Thank you. You have no idea how you've helped our people, and so many others. I better get back to the kingdom - any longer and I might have trouble to deal with."

"Understood." Jack nodded. "Have a safe journey, my friend." The leader nodded to him in return before exiting the room.

"I suppose I must, uh...go home...as well." Rothchild spoke carefully, as though he thought Jack wouldn't want to hear about others being able to go home while he was stuck in this time.

Jack sighed. "It is alright. What is important is that Aku is gone and the people of this world are free."

"Thank you again, Jack." the dog's tail was once again thrashing from side to side. "Please come visit us soon, alright? It's been quite a long time."

"I shall look foreword to it." Jack said, giving a small smile as the dog left. For that moment, he truly wondered what it would be like to converse with one of his friends without some sort of threat looming overhead. Well, he supposed now was his chance to find out because the Scotsmen was still here, and he didn't seem to be in a hurry to leave.

"So whadda ya plan on doin' now, laddie?" the Scotsmen asked.

"I am not sure." Jack admitted, turning back to Ashi. He impulsively reached out and brushed a strand of hair out of her face. He hadn't given much thought to what he would do after Aku's defeat, especially now that his previous position as heir to his father's throne was no longer an option - not that he'd ever been particularly eager for that kind of responsibility. All Jack truly knew was that he wanted the woman sleeping before him at his side from now on. "I suppose for now, I shall try to reverse as much of Aku's influence over this world as possible."

"Trust me, Jack, once word gets around, things'll be fixin' themselves overnight!" the Scotsmen gave a hardy chuckle as his gaze shifted to the girl Jack was keeping his eyes on. "Ha, looks like I spoke to soon back there, eh? She sure is a pretty little thing."

"Beautiful." Jack muttered absently, his eyes growing heavy as fatigue began crashing down on him like a mighty wave. Even after he realized what he'd said, he was too exhausted to try and deny what he knew to be true. Ashi was so beautiful; so precious to him. In a strange way, he was glad not to return home if it meant leaving her, or worse risking her existence by slaying Aku in the past.

"Well, I best be gettin' back to the clan." the Scotsmen said, seeing how Jack seemed to be ready to fall over. "You're lookin' in need of a few winks, yourself, lad. I'll be seein' ya around." Jack hummed his response and nodded, his eyes now closed and feeling too heavy to open. He didn't notice his old friend's departure as he rested his head on the bed and let sleep overtake him.

Jack knew immediately that he was dreaming. The samurai stood before the trio of Gods, who looked down at him, giving him a sense of deja vu.

"Nobel warrior," Odin spoke, "you have done us a great service."

"The darkness known as Aku has been vanquished." Rama said.

"In return, we shall grant you a single request. Name your will." Ra said. For an instant, it crossed Jack's mind to return to the past, but he quickly chased that thought away; he truly wanted to stay in this time with Ashi. To do that, though, he knew what else he wanted.

"I humbly request that you to restore my ability to age." Jack told them. "O-only from this point, if you please." he added hastily. If there was one good thing about being stuck at his age it would be that at least he was in his prime and he was quite sure he didn't want to wake up suddenly in his seventies.

"A simple request." Odin said. "It shall be done."

There was no beam of light, no grand show. Jack didn't even get a funny feeling. The gods simply faded away and somehow, Jack knew that he would indeed begin aging again the moment he woke up. In their place appeared a pair of figures that Jack had thought for so many years he would never see again; the Emperor and the Empress.

"Mother, Father." Jack tried to bow respectfully, but couldn't stop his eyes from watering. His parents gazed at him with pride. "Forgive me, I –"

"There is nothing to forgive, my son." the Emperor said. "Aku has truly been defeated, it does not matter the time period."

"We have been watching you all along." the Empress added, tears welling up in her eyes. "We are...so proud of you."

His father spoke again. "From the moment you were born, you were destined to face Aku. You spent over a decade in preparation for your battle and you have at last fulfilled that fate. Now, it is time you to chose your own path in life, and if this is the path you choose than we wish you happiness." Jack smiled. He could practically feel the weight lifting from his shoulders as the Emperor and Empress moved foreword and embraced their son one last time.

When Jack woke up, he first thing he was aware of as he wiped the tears from his eyes was that a blanket had been draped across his shoulders. For an instant he was alarmed to see the bed was empty, but he quickly relaxed when he registered the sound of water turning off from the washroom. Jack got up to sit on the bed and watched as steam poured out of the washroom when the door opened. Ashi stepped out wearing the white gown.

Neither of them spoke, but they never broke eye contact as Ashi walked toward him, slowly at first than picking up speed as she threw herself into Jack's arms. The two held each other, allowing themselves to get lost in each other's presence for a few moments. As they broke apart, Ashi brought her hand up to stroke Jack's face. His smile faltered when he noticed her hand felt strange and when he took it in his to look at it, he scrawled lightly. Her skin was rather red. At first glance he had attributed the color to the heavy steam from the washroom, but it wasn't fading like it should have.

"Oh, the darkness takes some scrubbing to get off." Ashi explained sheepishly. "I-it's just a little tender."

"Are you alright, Ashi?" Jack asked with concern, wrapping his hand around hers protectively.

"A little sore, but I'll be okay." she replied and her expression suddenly grew melancholy. "Jack, I'm so sorry I couldn't make you a portal."

"No, it is fine." Jack assured her honestly. "I had accepted long ago that I would never see the past again. I have adapted well enough to this time, and in gratitude the gods have restored my age. I have seen many interesting places and met many kind and good people. I will always miss the past, but the past is not meant to be changed. This time is my home now." For a moment, the samurai debated whether or not he dared confess his desire for her to stand by him from than on. He decided there was no point to it; he'd tried to leave her behind several times already and each time she'd refused to be left alone; she wasn't going anywhere.

"What's next?" Ashi asked, earning herself an amused look from Jack. Even after Aku was defeated, that girl was always asking what was coming next.

"I was thinking of traveling around, doing all we can to help this world recover from Aku's tyranny." Jack said. "We will begin in the morning."

"That sounds familiar." Ashi smirked teasingly and they shared a small laugh at that. However, the mood sank rather suddenly and Jack watched as Ashi's gaze dropped and she slipped out of his arms and sat on the bed. Jack took a seat beside her, watching her with concern. He could have imagined what she must have been thinking.

Tentatively, he asked, "You did not know before, did you?"

"No. Mother never talked about our father, or at least not directly." Ashi said, sounding far away. "Whenever one of us asked, she would say that Aku was our father, but none of us thought she meant..." she trailed off, looking uncomfortable as she looked at the hand that Jack was still holding. "I tried shape-shifting in the shower. I think my powers are gone."

They were quite for maybe half a minute, before Jack picked the conversation back up. "Did you and your sisters care for each other?"

"Of course we did, even if Mother tried to stamp it out of us." Ashi said, still sounding far away and staring at their hands. "Seeing them being slain hurt more every time, but there was no time for moaning; we..." Ashi paused and finally lifted her gaze to look into Jack's eyes, "we had a mission." she whispered. Jack didn't say anything, he simply pulled her back into his arms. Ashi was startled by a sensation she hadn't felt since she was small; tears rolling down her face. She couldn't keep herself from sobbing as she held on to Jack as though he would vanish and leave her alone. Ashi had told Jack all about her upbringing, the cult and her mother after he'd reclaimed his sword, making a point of absolving him of her sister's deaths. Jack planted a small kiss on the top of her head.

By the time the sun began setting, Ashi had fallen asleep in Jack's arms. The sunlight was turning everything shades of gold; it was a lovely image. It seemed to him that one of the bigger parts of his new mission was healing the one sleeping in his arms and indeed this very thing would quickly become routine for the first few months of their travels. If her expression was any indication, her dream was an unpleasant one.

Jack sighed, carefully setting her down and tucking her in before finally laying down on the unused bed meant for himself; he didn't much like the thought of leaving Ashi on her own this night, but such a thing felt highly improper given their current relationship. He wasn't sure how long it had been since he had actually stayed in a bed and quickly drifted off. The next day would be a busy one.

Well, this is the first time I've ever had to do this. Yes, this is a therapeutic story, something to make me personally feel better. I was too bummed about the finale to even look at reaction videos, and this brought me some closure. Between this and Korra, I think I need to stop relating so well to these characters because this is the second time it's actually hurt me. Still, the Many Worlds Theory has saved the day again. Also, there's an epilogue coming next. Review.