Summary- A Private moment between cousins.
The door to his room was covered in posters of his favorite artists, and behind the door boomed LL Cool J's "I'm Gonna Knock You Out." Ashley giggled; he was probably doing a crazy new dance in his sunglasses and baseball cap. She raised her fist, then hesitated; was there really a point in interrupting his alone time? Was there really a point in telling him this? Well, she needed to tell someone, and if you could ever find someone to trust, it would most definitely not be Carlton or Hilary.
Her fist hit the door three times.
Again, she knocked on the door, louder this time.
Still no answer.
She knocked a third time, yelling, "WIIIIIIIILLLLLLLL!"
The music finally stopped, and the door opened to reveal the handsome young man we all know as Will.
"Oh, hey, Ash," he said, smiling. "What's up?"
"Oh nothing, " said Ashley. "Just wanted to come and hang out--but if you're doing something it's okay."
"No, no, come in," said Will, backing into the room.
Ashley looked around her. The room was covered in more posters, a boom box, and CD's.
"Wow," said Ashley. "It has been a while since I entered here."
"Yeah," said Will tentatively. That was a weird comment coming from Ashley.
"So how've you been?" asked Ashley, sitting on his bed.
"Oh, wow, man, everything's been great," said Will. "Lisa and I are seriously working out great, Jazz is finally starting to date a girl again, Carlton's been the same old shortie-shorts. Me, I've been…tired."
He flopped onto the floor. Ashley heaved with giggles.
"I just stopped dancing for an hour."
"Hmmm," said Ashley; maybe two hours…
Silence followed as Ashley stared at her cousin. He was a tall, handsome young man, with a lot to offer and nothing to be afraid of. He was everything she wanted to be. She never truly discovered freedom until he entered the house, opening her mind to other things that her rich family refused to let her see. He always made her laugh with his dances, his comments, and the crazy things he did. He even helped her with a career in modeling and singing. Most importantly, he took the time to listen to what she had to say with an open mind and great advice. Even if he did mess up sometimes, he would do it with style. And it didn't hurt that he helped her out of trouble. AND he wasn't too cool to pay attention to a little twelve year-old.
Lately, however, he was too busy to really pay much attention to her, what with Lisa, and school, and friends. Carlton and Hilary were arguing about the stupidest things, like how to pronounce easy words. Her mom was a little bit unaware, even if Ashley loved her to death. As for her father…no comment. But through it all, Ashley expected Will to be there. Maybe a little crazy, but always available.
Never would she have dreamed that she would have to share him with someone else, let alone have to plan times to talk to him.
She knew that she was losing him, because he was older than her, and was now a real man.
She just had to talk to him once again, before he left her completely. She wasn't ready to let go yet.
But how to explain this all to him without messing it up? More important, how to ease into the conversation?
"So what did you come in for?" said Will, his face never leaving the floor.
Ashley stared at the back of his head. Maybe he wasn't as slow as she feared.
"Oh, just stuff," said Ashley. "I don't see much of you lately."
Will sat up, his eyes showing that he could tell where this was leading.
"I've had so much to do, with school, friends, and boys-"
"Excuse me?" said Will jokingly. "Boys?"
Ashley rolled her eyes. "I'm no longer twelve, I notice cute guys, and I talk to them."
Will raised his eyebrow, but did not elaborate.
"Oh, but it gets worse. I have this stupid test I have to study for and no one to study it with, because everybody's too damn busy, I've had stupid teachers who don't know what the difference is between a cat and a dog, I have a pink little room that's too young for me--" Ashley was getting more worked up with every word, and Will was sensing an explosion- "-and singing, and Dippity Doo Dog, that stupid owner is so lame, but I need to start my own piggybank, and I have to deal with Carlton's nagging and Hilary's dumbness, and Mom's too busy fighting with Dad, who doesn't understand that I'm not a child anymore, but you know that already, do you, and I would have thought, that maybe you would be there for me to talk to, but you've been too busy too, haven't you, with friends, and Lisa and basketball and school and even though you're the only person I can tell things to but can't anymore, not once have I complained, NOT ONCE!"
Will stared at her with a look of extreme incredulity. Ashley was shaking from head to toe with frustration and loneliness she held inside for weeks and weeks.
"So you could say I'm pretty alone right now." She finished meekly.
Will sat on the floor, cross-legged like a child listening to a story. His face held a mass of emotions Ashley couldn't read. She bowed her head in shame, and crossed her arms tight, still trembling.
A few moments of silence passed between them. She closed her eyes; she just knew that their relationship was over, she just knew it.
And then she heard the rustling sound of Will getting up from the floor, and sitting beside her. She felt a warm pair of arms wrapping around her small frame, pulling her close to his chest. She felt a pair of lips planting themselves sweetly on her temple. She never saw that look of guilt on his face.
But she did hear him say, "You're not alone."
She opened her eyes to look at him. He was very serious.
"I know I've been doing a lot of stuff and there's just so much on my mind right now, and I haven't had time to talk to you…but I promise you, you never have to ask to talk to me, even if it's at two in the morning. You my little cousin, Ash, and I love you. You can always talk to me."
She bowed her head again, after giving him a relived smile; he had only touched the half of her problems with him right now.
"But something tells me that ain't all you're mad at me for, is it?"
He knew her too well for her to hide it. She sighed in resignation, and willed herself not to cry.
She raised her head one more time.
"Do you remember when you first came to live with us? How I was small and short and you were a Llady-loving wise guy? And you first helped me out of the violin classes and introduced me to the drums, even though I didn't really like the drums, but started doing what I wanted?"
"Do you remember when I said to you, 'You're like the brother I never had,' even though I had Carlton?"
"Oh, yes," said Will smirking. Ashley smiled weakly.
"Remember when you taught me how to rhyme, and I rapped to God when it was time for me to say Grace?"
Will snorted with laughter.
"Do you even remember when I asked you about sex?"
"EEURGH," he groaned. She rolled her eyes and huffed a chuckle, and continued.
"The point is, If I had the guts to tell you something like that, before my parents, I must have really trusted you, and I had only known you for a few months."
Will frowned, not getting it. She sighed.
"Back then, you had all the time in the world to give me all kinds of help when I needed it. You were never too busy to check in on me, or let me talk to you. It's not like that now. Now you have a new kind of life, a new girlfriend, and a new stage of maturity. Now you barely check in on me like you used to, and you're the only one I can talk to at all about anything. Everything. My whole diary was you. I could talk to you about anything without feeling awkward or misunderstood, because you were always ready to help. Now you've got someone else to talk to, and even if it's not me anymore, I would like for you to be the same Will you were four years ago at least. Remember when you were shot? Lisa stayed with you all night, caring for you. I'm never jealous but it was like, I wanted to be there, too.
"I don't know what could have happened with my direction in life if you hadn't stepped into it. You're my best friend, and you're my family, and you are most definitely my brother, and I don't want to-well-share you or lose your friendship because you've gotten older while I'm still young.
I know it may sound selfish, but I want the Fresh Prince back. I miss you, Will."
There was no denying it- a lump was growing in her throat and her vision was blurred. She hoped he would understand how much she needed her big brother again. She refused to raise her head this time.
"Ashley," Will said, and she heard the sincerity and love of the seventeen-year-old she once knew.
"You are probably the only person here I can talk to, truly talk to, about everything. I can be myself around you, and no matter what I do, you won't judge me, because you know me more than I think I know myself. But you're right; I am growing, and I am in a serious relationship with Lisa, who I love a whole lot, and I'll probably never be the exact same person you met before. But I'm still me. I know I love Lisa. But Ashley, she doesn't replace you in my books. She'll never be my little sis.
"I do love you Ashley. So much. And please believe that I'm so sorry if I made you think that I love you any less."
Who would have thought that the Fresh Prince who was always so smooth would have so much to say?
Ashley stared at Will, taking in the fact that he really did love her like she loved him. Not a friendship, but a family bond that could only get better in time.
"Thank you Will," she choked up and threw her arms around him. "I love you."
"I love you, too, Ash." His voice came out muffled and a little bit shaky.
Ashley knew that right now, she would not rather be anywhere in the world than where she was right now. And even if Will didn't feel that way about her, because of someone else, she also knew that she meant more to him than she gave him credit for. She was definitely in his heart.
She felt him lift her body onto his lap, and she found herself being cradled like she sometimes was when she was much younger; Will would be there to chase away the nightmares.
And now he was here to chase away the pain.
One Month Later…
She had never seen him so shocked. He moped around the house, wouldn't eat food, and spent most of his time shut up in his room. Everybody knew he was heartbroken, and stayed clear, out of what they thought was thoughtfulness of his feelings, but no one except Ashley knew that Will needed someone to talk to, since he was so alone.
And it was all Lisa's fault. For halfway into the wedding ceremony that she and Will were supposed to come out of happy, she backed away, claiming she had doubts about it. Instead, Will's mom married Lisa's dad, so now they would be related through law. Will acted like he was relived to chase all the girls again, but Ashley knew that Lisa meant more to him than anybody, and it killed him to let her go for good this time.
Still, she could not help but feel a twinge of glee. Finally, she could have him all to herself again. And right now she was going to destroy the pain, just as he had done to her a month ago.
This time, no sounds came from behind the door, and his door was empty, of all posters, except for one sign.
She sighed; this was not him at all. She hated that Lisa woman, even though she knew it was going to happen; the couple was only in their twenties.
Her fist raised once more, and gently knocked on the door. It felt weird to finally touch wood again instead of glossy paper.
"Who is it?" a hard voice shouted.
Her lips trembled; he had never used that voice at her before.
"It's me, Ashley," she called out, in a rather nervous tone.
"What do you want, Ashley?"
Oh my God. He did not just say that.
What happened to the man who said he would always be there?
"I want to come in and hang out," she said, hoping that he would let her in.
"Fine, come in!" he said grudgingly.
Ashley slowly opened the door. The room was a mess. Clothes were strewn everywhere, the posters had an inch of dust on them, and Will, poor Will lay on his bed, looking out the window, while his boom box played songs about heartbreak on low volume.
"Will?" said Ashley.
"What, Ashley?" he growled. She winced.
"May I please sit down with you?" Ashley asked quietly, standing near his bed.
He struggled with himself for a moment, then gestured towards a spot on his side.
She sat down and crossed her legs, something she did when she was nervous. He reminded her of freshly healed skin that was pink and sensitive; he twitched slightly as he looked around the room.
"So, what do you want, Ashley?" he growled again. Something was wrong (no DUH), because he did not call her Ash yet.
"I came to see how you were doing," said Ashley, thinking it was better to get to the point straight up. "If there's anything you need to talk about, Will, you know you've got me."
"Well, I ain't got nothing to talk about," Will snapped at her, causing her to lean back slightly.
"Will, are you sure?"
"Sure, I'm sure! When have I not been sure?"
"Sorry, it's just we both know that there is something bothering you. You're shutting me out. That's a bad sign."
Will glared at her through red eyes. "I'm cool on my own, and I've been so happy to be free from a one-woman relationship, cuz' all it ever did was bring me down!"
"She did not bring you down!" Ashley exclaimed. "She brought you up! Why are you acting like this?"
"Because I wanna be actin' like this, and you can't do anything about it!" Will spat.
"Oh, yes I can!" Ashley said, with her hands on her hips.
"Try me!" said Will, sitting a little straighter. "I'm still as strong and happy as I was before that Lisa woman; she was nothing to me, nothing, and I lied to everybody when I said I loved that-"
"That's not true, Will, you loved her," said Ashley seriously.
Wrong thing to say.
"Yeah, well what do you know about love, Ashley?" Will yelled, getting up in a flash, and standing over her menacingly. "What do you know about living your life one way for a long time, and then suddenly have one person walk into your life, and changing everything for the better, and finding there's something more worth living for, and giving that person your heart, and watch them promise you they would never hurt you, and then right after you give them your entire being, them break you into pieces, Ashley, PIECES!" He screamed, and Ashley's lips shook. "How the hell would you know about that kind of love and heartbreak, to know that the one person you love more than anything suddenly breaks your heart and is now related to you, so they're off-limits forever? HOW DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THAT!" His voice cracked; he was on the very verge of breaking down, sobbing for Lisa.
And then he noticed that she was crying. Her chest heaved and her eyes were wet.
"I have you."
A roaring silence filled the room to the brim. Ashley was half shocked at what she just said, half deeply offended by her cousin's cruel words. But she knew the moment the words came out, they were the right ones to say.
She broke the silence with determination.
"You were the one who came into my flat life and changed it for the better. You made me see all the open doors for me if I followed my aspirations. I finally trusted you with everything, and you promised to always be around. And now look at you. You're turning me away when I thought you would open up to me like I opened up to you. You're yelling at me like it was me who broke your heart because I was afraid to rush into something. That's Lisa. This is Ashley. I'm Ashley, the girl who, if she had the chance to have what Lisa had, would never turn you down. That's ME!"
Will stayed silent listening intently.
"I'm not asking you to calm down and try to heal yourself now, Will. I'm begging you to realize that even with this pain, you are not alone. You have other people in this house, in this room, who care about you very much, and want to help you. You are more than welcome to talk to us about anything that's hurting you, because we love you."
Will remained frozen, looking her square in the eyes.
"You're not alone. You've still got me." Ashley said pleadingly. "Don't forget about me again."
With that, the dam broke inside of him.
"How come she don't want me, Ash?" he whimpered, and fell down on the bed again. Ashley, without a single word, enveloped him in her arms. He buried his head in her arm, weeping nonstop. Ashley rubbed his back, whispering soothing words of comfort.
As for Will…
In that moment, he realized that just as he was once there for her, she was there for him, to chase away the pain. Lisa was irreplaceable, or so it seemed for the minute, but he knew that with his Ashley standing there beside him, she would give him the strength to carry on, looking for somebody new. Of course, he would never forget Lisa, his first true love, but in the end, he knew that times were too young, too soon, to truly know if what he felt was love.
And yet, as he lay here with Ashley, his body relaxed, because there was no doubt that he loved her more than life itself.
He buried his head deeper into her chest.
He knew he was loved.
One year Later…
Mr. and Mrs. Banks
to the Marriage of
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett
Taking place December 31st, 1997
You were right. I am not alone. Neither are you. Please come. Thanks for everything.
Mr. and Mrs. Banks
Has agreed to attend the Marriage of
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett
Taking place December 31st, 1997
I knew this day would come. This time, I'm ready. I'm always here for you guys. Never forget that I love you. See you at the wedding, my dear Fresh Prince.