Chapter 1: The Arrivals
Charles smiles and nods at his only older brother walking up the steps to the mansion, taking his hand in a warm handshake, “Hello Max, it’s jolly nice to see you again, glad you could fit this into your schedule at such short notice.”
It was a rather mild early December afternoon, and Charles had been waiting outside the large front doors to the mansion for his extensive brothers to join him in the annual Xavier Christmas Dinner. With so many brothers it was difficult to get one time they could all come home, and this year it had been organised rather last minute.
“Well this is family, and you know how these dinners go when I’m not around to keep everyone under control. Is err…” Max’s eyes shifted to one side for a moment looking around the building, “Is Wesley here yet?”
“Max.” Charles warned in a lower voice, “We’re not going to end this family get-together with an arrest now are we?”
“No…at least not today.”
Max had been hunting Wesley ever since he’d found out about him turning into some damned freaky super assassin, and Wesley kept on evading him, but Charles had made him promise that when they all get together for a family event that they put their jobs behind them. Max would give Wesley a days head start after they left, then it was back to business. He wouldn’t ruin things for Charles though.
“Do try and get along. Yes he is here, he’s in the study trying to get Martin to stay in one spot.”
Max raised his eyebrows at the knowledge that their second youngest brother was actually here, “So Wesley found him did he?”
Martin was rather the lost sheep of the family, disappearing for most of the year doing things that everyone knew about but rarely acknowledged. Being a heroin addict and a rent-boy was hardly something their mother had been proud of and to her dying day had never spoken to Martin ever since he ran away from home at 15.
“Yes, but you know what Martins like, the poor boy was almost dragged back here. He just doesn’t want to be here.” Charles’ voice was solemn and filled with regret that he could never reconcile things with their misguided brother. He’d tried frequently, but the only time he could get to him was these Christmas dinners, and only after Wesley had found him and dragged him home, and as soon as Wesley was home he never left Charles’ side, he missed his few-minutes-older twin brother. This meant that getting Martin alone was next to impossible, and after being dragged back home by Wesley, Wesley was not a favourite brother of Martins.
Max laid one hand on Charles’ shoulder in comfort. “I’ll talk to him. But first I’d better go and rescue him from Wesley.”
Charles nodded again and watched his brother walk through the front doors, just as the crunching of the gravel drive started again as a grey Dodge Challenger car pulled up next to Max’s police car.
Johnny stepped out from the passenger side, followed by his twin Nicholas out of the driver’s seat, closing the door with a bump to his hip, looking just as smug as always, Johnny half hidden behind his Fedora hat.
“Hello you two.” Charles smiled happily, because although knowing once these two got together his mansion would be full of mischief over the visit, they reminded him a little of himself when he was younger. Well, Nicholas did, as for Johnny, well, Charles never stole things from family. Johnny looked up at him in that moment, and Charles wondered for a second if he’d projected that thought.
“Charlie!” Nicholas hugged him tightly, his Scottish accent as strong as always, “That lovely Raven still here?”
Charles resisted the urge to bat Nic’s even more floppier-than-his hair, “Please stop trying to sleep with your sister.”
“She’s not my sister! We’re not related, and she’s extremely attractive.”
“Fine. How about that slender hunk of an Erik?”
“Will you get inside please!”
Nicholas was even more of a slut than Charles was his age, and according to Erik that was saying something. Every visit Nicholas would try and get into someone’s pants, usually Erik’s or Raven’s, Moira when she stayed for Christmas one year, and even one freaked out Alex who’d opened his door one night to go and get a glass of water and found Nicholas standing outside completely naked and holding a condom in his mouth.
In Alex’s sleep deprived state he’d thought it was Charles, and let go a scream so loud it could have rivalled Sean’s.
Now though with Charles’ stern face that Nicholas really needed to stop trying to sleep with Erik, after all they had been together for some time now, Nicholas held up his hands in defeat, a sneaky grin still on his lips, “Alright I’m going! Come on Johnny.”
“Hey.” Johnny said in a quick greeting, his eyes bloodshot and tired looking, but still managing a small smile.
“Hello Johnny,” Charles greeted as Johnny walked past, “And my brother, I love you, but please stay away from the fine china this time. And the library?”
Johnny’s smile turned rather sheepish but didn’t say anything, just continued following his twin inside.
Every time Johnny came round Charles would find expensive things missing from around the mansion by the time he’d gone, plate sets, small statues, rare books, anything that could fetch a big price in a pawn shop so Johnny could fuel his gambling addiction. Still Charles had heard from Nicholas during the year that he thinks there might be a girl in Johnny’s life, so Charles hoped it would start a positive vibe in Johnny’s life and maybe start getting him off the gambling track.
Charles only had to wait a minute longer before a yellow New York cab made its way up the drive, coming up right in front of him at the bottom of the steps.
“Ch-Charles!” a nervous Valentin greeted his cousin the moment he stepped out the back of the cab, Joe appearing from the other side along with Brian, who must have been squished in the middle of them on the back seat.
“Valentin my dear how are you?” Charles hugged him tightly, giving a few good pats on the back, “How are things in Russia? Doing well?”
“Oh yes! I have so much to tell you about! He is such a fascinating man, I just-” Valentin suddenly paused, Charles smiling an all too knowing smile as he waited for his cousin to sneeze. And sneeze he did. “I’m so sorry.” Valentin apologised as he got out a handkerchief, “Travelling, i-it makes me nervous.”
Charles patted him on the back and guided him to the door, “I can’t wait to hear about it all, head on inside, everyone else is already here.”
Valentin wasn’t a brother but a cousin, but he looked so much like all the other brothers that everyone outside the family had always assumed he was one, and Valentin was happy with that assumption. He was ever so nervous though, too much bullying from Wesley and even Max when Max was going through his rebellious teenager stage. Still, nothing hard core, all brothers fight, and Valentin was just happy to be accepted as a brother, though these get-togethers tended to make him sneeze in nerves.
“Charles!” Suddenly Charles’ arms were full of his excitable youngest brother Brian, decked out with scarf and gloves even though there was only a slight breeze outside.
“Brian, my darling Brian!” Charles laughed, “How’re your studies coming along? I hear you’re close to getting on University Challenge, is that right?”
Brian stepped back and nodded enthusiastically, “Yes! And you’ll have to test me! You know everything Charles so you’re the best person to practise with!”
Brian was their youngest and most adorable of brothers. No one had anything bad to say about Brian, he loved every one of them and they all loved him back. Everyone went out of their way to make Brian happy, even Wesley.
Although sometimes even sweetness can get on peoples nerves, and an irritable voice sounded from the back of the cab where Joe was hauling out all the luggage, “Brian how much luggage do you need?! Get down here and take some of this most of it’s yours!”
Brian headed back down the steps to the cab and helped Joe carry their luggage, and Valentin’s, whom everyone knew would go into a guilty hyper sneezing fit when he realises he forgot to help with the luggage.
As Joe walked past Charles with a nod and an “Afternoon Charles”, Charles eyed the small silver case he was carrying.
“Those aren’t knives are they?”
Joe just looked at him, raised an eyebrow, and walked on.
Joe had a habit of bringing half his kitchen, the dangerous half, with him to cook their Christmas dinner. Charles had every piece of kitchen cutlery and appliances you could think of, but no, Joe had to work with his own equipment.
Joe didn’t get very far though when a white blur suddenly barrelled into him knocking all the bags and his case from his arms, the case breaking open and as Charles suspected, five large and very sharp kitchen knives splayed out along the ground. The white blur turned out to be Martin, legging it down the steps away from Wesley calling out after him. Charles immediately went after him, raised his fingers to his temple and Martin froze just past Brian, standing there looking shocked at the sudden commotion trying to not to fall over with all the bags he was trying to carry.
‘I’m sorry to do this to you without your permission but please just hear me out Martin. Please don’t leave, I know you don’t want to be here but all of us do want you here. We really do little brother. We love you, please don’t run away, just stay for dinner, then we can sit down and spend some time together. We’ve missed you. I miss you Martin.’
Charles could slowly feel Martin relax, though rather reluctantly, so cautiously released his hold on his body. Martin then turned around, looking sourly at his brothers, Charles, Joe, Wesley and Brian, before hugging himself with crossed arms and glowering at Brian for simply being the closet to him,
“Fine.” He deliberately pushed past Brian knocking the boy into the back of the taxi making him drop all his bags too, grumpily walking past Charles and mumbling, “I don’t have to be telepathic to know none of you want me here.”
Max arrived at the door just as Martin went to step through it, and as Martin looked up at his oldest brother he quickly looked away, hurriedly walking past knowing Max had seen the tears in his eyes.
A short silence fell upon the brothers, before a struggling Brian covered in bags asked with a trembling lip, “Why does he hate me so much?”
“Oh, Brian no.” Charles was instantly by his side, helping him up and taking some of the bags, “He doesn’t hate you, he’s just….” Charles sighed, how many times over their lives had he tried to talk to Martin, to get him out of the life he’s dug himself into, “…he just needs help, that’s all, and as his brothers we’re going to love him and help him,” Charles turned to his other brothers with eyes narrowed, “aren’t we?”
Joe just shrugged, picking up his knives, while Wesley swore and went back inside.
‘I’ll have a chat with Martin now, I don’t want this continuing.’ Max thought for Charles to hear, who nodded in response.
“Don’t forget to pay the taxi Joe.” Charles reminded him as he helped the upset Brian up the steps, “And please put those knives somewhere up high and out of reach of hormonal teenagers. And Wesley.” Charles added as an afterthought, calling out with his mind to Erik somewhere in the house to let him know his brothers have arrived, and to prepare for the mayhem that was sure to happen.
Joe just watched them disappear into the house, “Do you want me to poison you?”