He should have expected something like this to happen. When has anything ever that could go wrong has gone right for You Huo?
‘It’s not dangerous!’ the guy who operated the device said.
Not dangerous, your mom.
‘Not dangerous’ and yet, standing before You Huo were three different versions of him.
It has become a reflex for Qin Jiu now, to abandon all matters of importance and turn his feet towards wherever You Huo is when he gets the message of trouble. It’s fairly normal, expected even he thinks. He’s not going to sit around to hear the results when he lost You Huo twice before.
So that’s what he does, the chunky bottom of his boots leaving a faint ‘thud thud’ on his wake.
He doesn’t expect a dire situation, the message he received wasn’t alarming but he also doesn’t expect to see four faces of his love looking at him.
The officer who’s in charge of showing the device’s functions to You Huo cowers in his seat as he spills what happened to Qin Jiu. The extra three You Huos take a seat on the table, silently taking in the information.
The device, called Loptr x9 for some damnable reason, was made because some idiot got curious about people’s core personality traits. It was supposed to reveal data collected by trivial activities of a being and calculate the core personality traits. There should have been 1% for something as absurd as giving forms to the core personalities to happen. But of course, this is You Huo we’re talking about. Anything unlucky that can happen, will without a doubt happen to him. Fortunately Officer Dumbass shut off the device before all of You Huo’s core traits could take form. Unfortunately that didn’t make the three who had appeared to disappear.
Qin Jiu gives the three traits a look, accessing the differences between his You Huo and them. The way they appeared is the most obvious one. Or rather, the way they’re dressed.
Trait 1 has longer hair, tied up into a small ponytail and is in all black, similar to the way Qin Jiu himself used to dress while he was a Invigilator.
Trait 2 wears monotone colours but what stands out the most is the fact he’s wearing undeniably cozy comfort clothes that are probably two sizes larger than him.
Trait 3 seems to be the one with the most similar look to Qin Jiu’s You Huo. The glaring difference is the fact that he can’t stop fidgeting.
Only three traits and yet how so different.
“The issue is though,” Officer Dumbass mumbles, looking a little frightened. As he should be. “We don’t know how much they know about real life or whether they recognize people and react to them. They may not have the feelings towards them as Officer You has. Which is-”
Qiu Jiu looks at You Huo. The man keeps babbling on and on, nervous as to not offend Qin Jiu or You Huo that he can’t seem to say what he actually means to say. You Huo looks like he wants to strangle Officer Dumbass. Understandable.
“-so what I’m trying to say is that these three traits may not remember you or love you,” the man finishes crudely, the efforts put in the last three minutes evaporating like his soul the second he realized what he said.
Big Invigilator’s beautiful eyes twitch.
Qin Jiu barks out a laugh at his reaction.
Officer Dumbass looks like he wants to retire.
“I didn’t mean to offend you! My apologies sir.”
“No, no. I expected it.”
After all, if the Traits are of You Huo’s personality it makes sense for them to only represent one trait each. And since love is a trait it also makes for the other traits to not have any strong feeling towards him. He can’t expect them to. He doesn’t expect them to.
He doesn’t see the frowns the three Traits are wearing behind him.
It doesn’t take more than ten minutes to decide that taking the Traits to You Huo’s residence instead of letting them stay (read: entrapping) in the lab was more reasonable.
“Maybe prolonged exposure to the main body may revert them back inside!” Officer Dumbass had claimed excitedly.
Another ten minutes and they’re on their way home. The three Traits haven’t said anything yet.
You Huo senses the way his boyfriend struggles to smother his grin.
“You’re happy about this,” he accuses him.
“I didn’t say that,” the grin is wider now. The former Invigilator 001 lets his finger brush against the hand resting against the gear control of the car before carding both their hands together. He rubs the back of You Huo’s palm, gentle. You Huo relaxes immediately as if under a spell. A very calming spell.
“Big Invigilator, it is a bit amusing. You have to admit that.”
Amusing, my ass.
“No?” Qin Jiu sighs as if disappointed, the grin on his face fades into a mischievous smirk. “Perhaps it’s because I now have four Big Invigilators.”
You Huo stares at him.
Wasn’t one me enough?!
The three Traits in the back sat quiet, eyes observing the back and forth interaction between You Huo and Qin Jiu.
You Huo swerves his car to the left, avoiding another vehicle at the last moment. Very much on purpose. Qin Jiu feels himself slam against the door (though not too harshly) an0d breaks out into a laugh.
You Huo snorts and Qin Jiu doesn’t even feel the ridge on the door press on his arm awkwardly when sun-touched eyes flicker up to glance at him with fondness.
You Huo blinks at the two silhouettes standing before his front door, fingers still gripping the steering wheel. The lanky limbs and the ability to not stay at one place was unforgettable.
“You called them.”
“They didn’t say I couldn’t,” Qin Jiu says innocently. He isn’t fooling anyone though with that glint to his eyes. Backseat Trait 3 snorts. You Hou narrows his eyes. It’s a pity he doesn’t have anything to throw on his boyfriend’s face.
“Mm for now.”
Forget throwing something at Qin Jiu, he wants to throw him.
Yu Wen and Di Li notice them as soon as You Huo turns off the engine and come bounding down the steps despite having to climb them again to enter the house.
“Brother! Brother Qin!” Yu Wen calls them, loud and excitement pouring through his veins. Behind him Di Li waves at them furiously, his hair still in a grey perm. “Brother Qin messaged me to come by today and since I was with Di Li and he wanted to see you I brought him too! That’s okay right?”
Totally okay. Yep.
“Brother!” Di Li, this time calls with a giant smile before pausing. Yu Wen hasn’t noticed the extra three people yet but Di Li has. He also noticed the overlapping faces. Slowly he tugs the sleeve of Yu Wen’s checked shirt and mutters his findings to him. Yu Wen pales noticeably and he stutters in his steps.
They don’t speak until they all are inside.
You Huo removes his boots and socks and disappears for a moment and reappears, looking refreshed. The three extras of Yu Wen’s brother sit on the sofa, well, two of them do but one of them sits on the floor before the sofa.
Yu Wen didn’t think he would experience anything weird as being sucked into another dimension. Four brothers apparently were waiting to be seated at the same table.
“Clones?” he wonders. His brother doesn’t say anything and continues drinking water he was handed by Brother Qin Jiu.
“They don’t look exactly like Brother You though,” Di Li argues, pouting adorably. Yu Wen clears his throat before turning his gaze towards the extras. It was true! The clothes they’re wearing aren’t like his brother’s and even without that they seem different from his brother and themselves.
“Brother from different worlds?”
Di Li and Yu Wen turn expectant eyes towards Qin Jiu and You Huo.
“Not exactly,” Qin Jiu chuckles. “They’re part of our Big Invigilator here.”
“Did someone invent a personality device or something?” he asks, wonder splayed across his face like an ad on a billboard. “Brother was hit by the device and it gave bodies to brother’s personality? But my brother has more personality though. Does that mean it was stopped halfway?”
You Huo gives him a look and nods. Di Li gasps beside him at the confirmation.
“Wait really?” Yu Wen says, he thought it was a little bit far-fetched after thinking about it but it turns out to be true! He says as much. “It makes sense! Their clothes seem to resemble their personality! Brother, aren’t I clever?”
He smiles wide, pride blooming flowers in his chest.
It isn’t his brother who said it. Well it is but not original You Huo. Yu Wen gapes at the Trait who sits on the floor, the one who praised him.
Qin Jiu snaps his head to look at the trait who spoke, surprise painting his grey eyes. You Huo… well, he looks like he despises the creation of the world.
“Looks like the tutor lessons finally paid off huh?” Di Li teases him, breaking the stilled atmosphere. A grin tugs the corners of Yu Wen’s lips and he nudges at him.
“Only because I had Top Student as my Teacher.”
“Tutor,” Di Li corrects him with a grin.
“Teacher Di Li sounds way better.”
Qin Jiu’s eyebrows perch very high as he takes in the interaction between the two who call him brother.
“Not intentional,” You Huo says, eyes on Trait 2, not wishing to subject himself to whatever was going on with Yu Wen and Di Li.
“What? The device isn’t intentional?”
“The traits taking forms,” Qin Jiu says. “The device was only supposed to give analytical data of personality traits. Were warned that they may not remember anyone.”
He waits for a second before adding, “Or have any feelings for me.”
Qin Jiu stares at Trait 1, mouth ajar when the words leave the man wearing black. Trait 1 merely frowns at Qin Jiu as if reprimanding him and despite himself he feels a bit foolish for not thinking You Huo’s traits would remember him.
“Remember Gi,” Trait 2 says quietly, pulling the tips of the sweater to cover his hands. “And everyone.”
“How could we forget our Invigilator 001?” The teasing words come from Trait 3, who’s leaning against the sofa. A smirk, barely there, adorns his face.
You Huo curses.
Qin Jiu looks at him, surprised.
You Huo sees the twitch to his boyfriend’s lips and scowls. Bastard.
He turns his back to Qin Jiu and looks at his traits sullenly.
“You didn’t talk before.”
“No,” Trait 3 acknowledges.
“You know why,” Trait 1 says. “Didn’t like the guy.”
You Huo sighs.
Qin Jiu laughs and even Yu Wen and Di Li have a grin on their faces. He comes forward to wrap his arms around his Big Invigilator and props his chin against his shoulder. Yu Wen and Di Li turn suspiciously quiet instantly.
The younger doesn’t let himself relax in the arms of his boyfriend. For the first few seconds at least.
Qin Jiu feels his heart skip a beat when You Huo tilts his head to knock gently on Qin Jiu’s own head. He swallows the urge to whisper sweet endearments in his beloved’s ears and turns his attention towards the traits.
“What traits are you three?”
“It’s hard to say,” Trait 1 says. “It’s not as easy as to cut and chop words and force feelings into them.”
Makes sense. To name every feeling and force a box onto it is society’s doing anyway. And fuck society.
“In simple words I am the protective side of You Huo.”
Trait 2 smiles and Qin Jiu feels his heart clench at the raw softness of it.
“I’m caring I guess, or gentle. You could say I’m protective too but I’m more passive.”
Well that definitely explains the oversized sweaters.
Trait 3 smirks, “Mischief.”
You Huo snorts. Of course.
“Also,” Trait 3 adds, eyes darting towards Trait 1 and then You Huo. “Protective also means being damn possessive.”
Apparently being mischievous means not even hesitating before exposing You Huo left and right. You Huo wants to strangle the demon.
“Shut up,” he elbows Qin Jiu and directs a scorching glare at Trait 3. Trait 3 simply raises his hands giving the impression he is saying ‘if you say so.’
It takes about three days for the traits to disappear. Before that Yu Wen, Di Li, Chu Yue, Wen Yuan and Old Yu came to see it for themselves, multiple times in Yu Wen and Di Li’s case.
Three days to spill anything they could about You Huo, verbally or nonverbally. He wants to dig a grave and lie in it. It was absolute torture. Today though, they would be leaving! Officer Dumbass had come back with the solution and fear of past failure in his eyes.
You Huo almost want to not glare at the man.
Past three days have revealed one important thing: No matter how many times you pull him apart, even the pieces of him will forever love Qin Jiu.
Going against everything Officer Dumbass said, the three traits showed without objection the fact they considered Qin Jiu their first priority.
From Trait 1 subtly following Qin Jiu around and checking his food before letting him eat it to Trait 2 gifting him with warm smiles and staying as close as he can be to Qin Jiu to Trait 3 constantly flirting with him and using horrible pick up lines. It was obvious.
It has been an immensely embarrassing ordeal.
Qin Jiu has been gleeful to say the least.
It’s when Trait 3 vanishes with a wink that You Huo lets out a relieved breath. The demon had whispered a rushed tease to You Huo before he was ushered to the podium leaving You Huo to dart glances at his boyfriend wondering whether or not he heard it.
Qiu Jiu unbuttons his shirt as he calls his beloved’s name. It’s nearly nightfall and after spending the entire day at the lab, it feels just right to have a quick shower and cuddle the night away.
Facing away from his boyfriend, You Huo pauses before answering him.
The rustlings come to an abrupt stop. You Huo still goes on, unbuttoning his cuffs as if he doesn’t notice what he said.
You Huo turns around and blinks his eyes rather innocently when he finds Qin Jiu blankly staring at him, having trouble processing You Huo’s words.
“What?” Qin Jiu asks again, this time with more emotion. He blinks thrice in quick succession and steps towards You Huo.
“What?” You Huo asks and he knows very well that Qin Jiu can read the mirth in his eyes.
“Darling,” he says, voice deep as he pulls You Huo into his arms and leaves a searing kiss. “Say that again.”
You Huo blinks, letting the haze of his mind clear, “Say what?”
Qin Jiu groans, “Big Invigilator… you won’t be so cold as to tease me like that, would you?”
“I don’t know, you seemed to enjoy being teased a lot these three days.”