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This enthusiastic call reverberated through the house like a ray of light gloriously breaking through the clouds, taking the people present in the living room aback.
Shi Jin became aware that the three pairs of eyes were giving him a death glare, the refined-looking man even pointed the gun at him again. Shi Jin’s overexcitation cooled quickly. He looked gingerly at the only person not giving out a killing intent, Xiao Si’s “darling”, and tried to save the situation. Forcing a smile, he uttered: “…My dad always called me ‘darling’, he loved me very much…”
The man in the wheelchair declined to comment on the whole thing. He waved his hand at the gentle-faced man to stop his approach, his eyes skimming over Shi Jin’s figure, and asked, “Well?”
“Well, I, well…” The man’s voice was cool and clear, very pleasant to listen to, but it made Shi Jin’s hair stand up on the back of his neck. Frantically calling out to Xiao Si in his mind, he tried to save his life. “Well… I mean yes, I am Shi Xingrui’s youngest son, Shi Jin.”
“How can you prove your identity?” The man continued to ask.
Shi Jin swallowed and couldn’t help but look at the progress bar above the other party’s head. “Under the bed in my room, there’s a cucumber pillow with my ID card inside…” What was on his mind, though, was the situation of Xiao Si’s ‘Darling’—with the progress bar reaching 999.5, it seemed to be rather grim.
Just as this thought flashed through Shi Jin’s head, Xiao Si finally showed up—he had started to suspect it of having a system freeze. It shrieked in Shi Jin’s brain without any warning: <Ah, Darling, you finally appeared! But how come your progress bar has risen to 999.5… No, JinJin, why has yours gone up to 998.5?! Waah, what do I do now, how can I save my babies…>
“…” Who are you calling your son?!
Shi Jin knitted his brows in pain, feeling as if his brain was about to explode from Xiao Si’s wails. He reacted to Xiao Si’s words a second later, looking at his progress bar in shock.
—It really was 998.5, he didn’t hear wrongly!
Just a short while ago it had only reached 960, so why… Shi Jin’s heart stopped for a moment. Breaking out in a cold sweat, he gaped at the man in the wheelchair, who was watching him indifferently, as if looking at someone already dead.
I’m done for.
<Don’t give up!> Xiao Si puffed out its chest proudly. <Don’t be scared, dad… cough, I won’t let you two harm each other. JinJin, close your eyes—prepare to receive my power!>
Receive your power? What power, the heck you’re talking about?
Shi Jin was doubtful, but before he could inquire further, the mountain outside the windows trembled. There was a faintly discernible sound of an explosion, and the ground shook.
Shi Jin was struck dumb with astonishment and he exclaimed in wonder: “Xiao Si, so you were this powerful…”
<N-no, it wasn’t me…> Xiao Si refuted. It continued in a small voice, <I, I can’t use forces of nature, the only thing I can do is to give you a buff, it’s kind of like a temporary cheat…>
Then what happened just now?
Shi Jin’s mind was in chaos. Then he glimpsed the progress bar belonging to the “Darling” from of corner of his eye; it seemed to flicker faintly as if filling up. Startled, he turned his head fully to take a closer look. His heart sank—it was really rising bit by bit!
Shi Jin’s ability to calm down in the face of danger played a role once again—he looked around quickly and noticed that a crystal chandelier hanging from the ceiling was swaying gently. Without stopping to think, he grabbed the man’s legs and shoved the wheelchair back with all his strength, rolling away at the same time.
The next moment, the chandelier broke loose.
The chandelier crashed into the floor and shattered, some of its broken pieces hitting Shi Jin. Across the room, the wheelchair pushed away by Shi Jin slammed into the sofa and toppled over, throwing the man to the ground.
“Jun-shao!” When the refined-looking man who was outside contacting his subordinates realized something happened, his expression changed. He dropped his cell phone and ran towards the fallen man.
<JinJin!> Xiao Si let out a shrill scream in Shi Jin’s mind.
Shi Jin stirred, hurting all over. He said in a weak voice, “Don’t shout, I’m not dead…” Turning his head towards the sofa surrounded by an anxious crowd, he managed to catch the sight of the man through the gaps between people. He forced a smile at him and finally felt at ease: the man’s points dropped by half. It seems that this ‘Darling’ of Xiao Si had much better luck with emptying his progress bar than Shi Jin…
The smell of disinfectant was overwhelming. Shi Jin opened his eyes and saw the person sitting beside the bed. He couldn’t help but frown and grumble, feeling pained. How come this scene feels so freaking familiar?
<Wake up, JinJin! Look at your progress bar, it’s back to 880, yay!> Today, Xiao Si’s voice was full of vigor. Shi Jin turned his head resignedly and looked at the man.
The good-looking man, who changed into a patterned robe that resembled blue and white pottery, appeared to sense his gaze. He looked up and opened his pale lips, speaking with a voice that was still cool and pleasant to listen to: “Shi Jin, my name is Lian Jun.”
What were Shi Jin’s options? He could only nod politely and say, “Nice to meet you.”
“Mm.” Lian Jun acknowledged his words, then once again dropped his gaze to the tablet pc he was holding.
One minute, two minutes… After five minutes passed, it was clear that Lian Jun was not going to say anything more. Shi Jin couldn’t take it any longer: “Uh, yesterday…”
Lian Jun raised his head.
Shi Jin looked at his unhealthy and pallid face, which still seemed entirely too handsome, and said, “We live in a harmonious society, it’s better to abide by the law. You shouldn’t play at being a gangster, it’s too dangerous…”
“Pfft.” Gua Two, who was guarding the door, couldn’t help but snicker.
Lian Jun glanced over at him, then put his tablet down and said, “I am not a gang member.”
Only then Shi Jin realized there was someone else in the room. He smiled sheepishly and started to grumble in his mind: The hell you aren’t! That gun and explosion yesterday, and the whole talk about the contact point and hidden base—if you people aren’t a criminal syndicate then what are you, the military?! Wait, the military… He couldn’t help but widen his eyes.
“I’m not from the government either.” Shi Jin’s thoughts were written on his face, Lian Jun saw through him at a glance. He put the tablet pc next to his pillow and said, “You should rest.” After that, he maneuvered his wheelchair out of the room.
Gua Two smirked and waved goodbye to Shi Jin, following his boss out.
The room became quiet. Shi Jin was baffled: “So why was he here? He waited for me to wake up just to introduce himself?”
Xiao Si was full of exhilaration: <Ah, my Darling is so kindhearted! He was afraid you will be lonely, so he came specially to chat with you.>
“…” Aren’t you far too biased towards your Darling?
The tablet pc that Lian Jun left behind was completely new, with only some system software installed. Shi Jin looked it over, more and more perplexed by Lian Jun’s actions. Seeing no one else in the room, he stealthily opened the software download center and searched for the mahjong app—he has been scared witless last night and needed to take things easy for now.
He ended up “taking things easy” for five days.
During this time, except for the close-mouthed bro delivering the meals and the doctor who came to change the dressings on his wounds, Shi Jin hasn’t seen anyone else. He also couldn’t leave his room.
“What exactly is your Darling planning?” No matter how good Shi Jin’s temper was, he was close to losing it.
Xiao Si asked in a guilty voice, <Do you want to play mahjong with me again?>
Shi Jin wrapped himself up in the blanket, refusing wordlessly.
That evening, Shi Jin finally met someone else—a handsome young man who had been accompanying Lian Jun that day.
“I’m called Gua Two,” the man introduced himself with a friendly smile. He put a bag on the hospital bed and said, “Change your clothes, I’ll take you to dinner.”
Shi Jin got up in silence and took the bag to the bathroom. After five days, he was finally let out for fresh air.
Following the man out, Shi Jin kept observing the surroundings secretly and did not speak, Gua Two seemed to be a talker though. He took the initiative to pick a topic: “I was told you are the new owner of the Ruixing Corporation?”
Shi Jin glanced at him and nodded, then shook his head. “Ruixing has nothing to do with me now.”
“That’s right, your company was snatched by your eldest brother.” Gua Two smiled and cheerfully twisted the knife. “You’re pathetic.”
“…” If the original ‘Shi Jin’ was here right now, this would make him burst out crying.
Gua Two still felt it wasn’t enough. He continued, “I’ve also heard that when you first met Jun-shao, you called him ‘darling’ and touched his legs?”
Shi Jin shuddered. Recalling that his progress bar filled up almost completely after Lian Jun heard that word, he frantically shook his head: “It’s not true, I didn’t, it was a misunderstanding.”
“Don’t worry, don’t worry, everyone loves beauty. Jun-shao really is so tempting it should be a crime. Still, those who dared to even think about him like that…” Gua Two paused deliberately.
Shi Jin was simple-minded enough to swallow the bait and asked nervously, “What, what happened to them?”
Gua Two’s face became unfathomable. His line of sight slowly moved down, stopping three inches below Shi Jin’s navel, and he made a snipping gesture with his fingers.
Shi Jin winced and instinctively crossed his legs, feeling a bitter taste in his mouth. Turning pale, he tried to vindicate himself: “Brother, you really misunderstood, I like girls…”
Gua Two’s face sank and a small gun appeared in his hand. He asked in a menacing tone: “You mean to say Jun-shao doesn’t look better than women?”
“…” This person’s face changes instantly, as if in a Sichuan opera! How could I ever think he was friendly?!
“Huh?” Gua Two cocked the gun.
Shi Jin weighted his options and decisively flattered: “No, no, I didn’t mean this. Your Jun-shao is obviously more attractive than most of the girls, he is really—“
Gua Two suddenly stopped, all emotions on his face disappearing instantly, and slid open a discreetly elegant door beside him. He bowed gracefully and said in a polite tone, “We have reached the dining room, please go inside, Mr. Shi.”
Lian Jun, who was sitting on the tatami mats inside, leaned on the table filled with food and drink and asked: “I’m really what?”
Shi Jin: “…”
Xiao Si exploded: <This Gua Two is a bad person! He wants to drive a wedge between you and my Darling! See, your progress bar has risen to 900 again. I don’t care anymore, I’m going to beat him up!>
Shi Jin also felt a sudden violent impulse, but he only said in a low voice, “Gua Two, I know you are envious that I touched the legs of your Jun-shao, but it was in order to save him… Oh, but even if you like the same sex, it’s fine. You’ve got nothing to be ashamed of, I won’t treat you differently.” He patted Gua Two on the shoulder, hard.
Xiao Si secretly added a strength-raising buff to Shi Jin’s hand.
Gua Two’s face contorted from pain, but he did not dare to throw Shi Jin’s hand off. Turning to look toward Lian Jun, he explained emphatically: “Jun-shao, I was just joking, who knew Mr. Shi would take it seriously…”
“Go punish yourself.” Lian Jun coldheartedly ignored Gua Two’s suddenly miserable face and beckoned Shi Jin over. “Let’s eat.”
Satisfied, Shi Jin released Gua Two’s shoulder and added with a smile, “You’re pathetic.” Gua Two revealed an expression as if he was forced to eat feces. Shi Jin, proud of taking revenge, triumphally stepped into the dining room and sat opposite Lian Jun.
In case you missed it, Shi Jin and Xiao Si are talking inside Shi Jin’s mind. Xiao Si doesn’t exist physically (that’s why it’s an “it” – no gender). Even though the author tends to describe Xiao Si’s actions, it’s not as if Shi Jin can see it performing them; he just has a feeling that “Xiao Si did something”.
“Jun-shao!” – ‘shǎo’ [少] means ‘young master of a rich family’, but it’s rather archaic; I’m going to keep it as it is. (Shi Jin was also called ‘young master’ [少爷, shàoyé], but it has a modern English equivalent, so I translated it directly. In simple terms, it’s like the difference between ‘Mr.’ and ‘my lord’.)
“…resembled blue and white pottery” – like this.
“Gua Two” [卦二] – it’s a code name.
“…his face changes instantly, as if in a Sichuan opera” – Wiki link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bian_lian
Lian Jun has no idea about the death progress bar. Also, the progress bar doesn’t cause the danger, it only shows how dangerous the situation is—it’s like a speedometer.
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