Over time, friendship replaced jealousy. The two shared a room and stayed up late chatting about shared interests: girls and dancing. Mom and Dad watched them grow so close, they were like twins separated at birth.
After Charles' diagnosis, when darkness consumed the boys' room late at night, Charles confided that he was scared of dying. Trayshaun comforted him, in his keep-it-light way.
"I'll catch you on the flip side," he told Charles.
"I'll see you there," Charles responded. "If I die, I don't want you crying and feeling sad. I want you to go for higher things and achieve in life."
In the hospice, Trayshaun, 17, holds his brother's left hand. They square off in thumb war. "We created a bond together. I like taking care of him. It's really not a burden."
They've been brothers for nearly three years, enough time to let their relationship grow.
"I always wanted to have a little brother. Now, I got one."
The oldest of the siblings at 19, Nate sits in the corner of the room. He projects calm in front of his brothers and sisters. He believes that's his role. "I need to be as strong as possible for them."
When family and friends visit, Nate stays in the background, soaking up the moment. But when others are not around, Nate stands next to his brother's bed. Charles touches his face and pulls him close. "He knows I'm right there -- that I'll always be right there."
He has physically carried Charles from room to room. "If I was in his shoes and in his situation, he would do the same for me," Nate says. "I see it as just love."
Sometimes, Nate plays a video on the television in Charles' room. It shows Charles beaming in the backseat of the car while their dad speeds down the highway. Charles sings "Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis.
I don't care what they say
I'm in love with you
They try to pull me away ...
The video was shot on a trip to Los Angeles. Charles had been invited on a Make-A-Wish-Foundation vacation to see Beyonce -- his crush -- in concert in Arizona. But Charles traded the chance to meet the singer for a family vacation to Los Angeles. They shopped in Hollywood, dined on soul food at Aunt Kizzy's, played at Universal Studios and ran around Venice Beach.
There were no hospital stays, no chemotherapy. Everyone was just able to feel free.
"It was the best trip," Nate says simply.
Even in this hospice room, memories from that trip bring smiles. Mom, Dad, Aunt Janice Mays, Nate and Trayshaun share laughs over how silly Charles was. Trayshaun leans in so close to Charles, it looks as if the boys will kiss.
The two hold hands. But as Charles gasps for breath, he lets go of his brother's hand and reaches for his mother's.
"Ohhh, you wanna go to the old lady's side," Trayshaun teases.
He picks up a tube near the top of the bed and suctions his brother's mouth. "Am I annoying you?"
An audible grunt comes from Charles. "Uh-huh," he says.
"Did you hear him?" Forest says.
It's 10:10 p.m., a long day nears its end.
"We're staying up all night," Trayshaun says, "because we're some party animals."