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As usual, in the life-and-death situation, Shi Jin quickly calmed down. He shook Gua Two’s hand off, sat up, smiled politely at Shi Weichong, changed his voice and whispered in some weird dialect: “Mistah, yew mistook me, I s’pose. ‘Ave a good day!”
After that, he grabbed the door and tried to pull it closed.
On Shi Weichong forehead, a vein popped up. He put his leg between the passenger’s seat and the door, preventing it from closing, then grabbed Shi Jin’s right arm and pushed the sleeve up, revealing the scars on his wrist. Tightening his hold, he sneered, “Do you think I’m stupid? Come out here!”
Xiao Si continued to wail: <JinJin! The progress bar has risen to 880! Waah, someone help!>
Shi Jin broke out in cold sweat. Trying to free his hand, he turned his head and shouted, “Gua Two, help me to—”
The sound of a bullet being loaded into the firing chamber could be heard. Gua Two aimed the gun at Shi Weichong and grabbed Shi Jin’s shoulder with his other hand, pulling him to his side, then looked at Shi Weichong and said, “Let go of him.”
Shi Jin was dumbfounded.
In a flash, Shi Weichong’s face turned ugly. He did not release Shi Jin’s hand but grabbed it tighter instead, and not avoiding the muzzle at all asked through clenched teeth, “Shi Jin, you’re allowing an outsider to point a gun at me?”
Xiao Si’s shriek turned even more piercing: <890! JinJin, waah!>
Aaaaah! Don’t rise!
This was the scream of Shi Jin’s soul. Just as he opened his mouth to say something to ease the situation, another tall figure appeared outside the car. At the same time, a slightly familiar low-pitched male voice could be heard: “Big Brother, what’s taking you so long? Did something happen—”
Before the man could finish his words, he saw the situation inside the car and his straight eyebrows wrinkled in a frown. Without any hesitation, he pulled out his own gun and aimed it at Gua Two, bellowing: “What the hell are you doing? Put the gun down!”
Xiao Si was so agitated it almost broke down: <900, and Darling is not here, we’re done for, waah!>
Shi Jin choked. Incredulous, he stared at the man standing beside Shi Weichong. Seeing his appearance, which was very similar to that of Shi Weichong, and the fierce expression on his chiseled face, he really wanted to cry. “Four, Fourth Brother…” Why are you here?
Obviously, this person was Xiang Aoting. When he heard Shi Jin’s voice, he became stunned for a moment. His sight swept over Shi Jin’s features, concentrating on his nose, then he reached his hand to grab Shi Jin and said, “Little Six, where have you been during all this time? Come here.”
“Don’t touch him.” Gua Two leaned over, pushing Shi Jin down, and turned his gun towards Xiang Aoting, saying menacingly, “Get back or watch out for the bullets.”
Xiang Aoting shifted slightly, his eyes observing Gua Two’s hold on Shi Jin, and also turned the gun’s safety off, his muscles tense and ready to instantly take action. “Little Six, are you being threatened?”
With the two guns in the near vicinity of his head, how could Shi Jin’s progress bar not go up? Feeling cold sweat on his forehead, he firmly shook his head and said, “No, Gua Two is my friend, this is all a misunderstanding. Put, put your gun down first, and let go of my hand…”
“Let go so you could run again?” When Shi Weichong asked this, everyone could clearly hear the sound of his teeth grinding.
Shi Jin’s heart shook and he realized he had to break this stalemate somehow. After finally finding him, Shi Weichong was not going to let him go again and although he had Gua Two helping him, Shi Weichong had Xiang Aoting. With two against two, it was not sure which side would have an advantage, so he had to find a way to either play for time or run back to the clubhouse.
After quickly weighing the advantages and disadvantages, Shi Jin calmed down, sat up between the muzzles of two guns, and looked at Shi Weichong. “Big Brother, I won’t run anymore. Gua Two, put down your gun. These two are my brothers, they won’t hurt me.”
Gua Two knew a little about Shi Jin’s family situation, that’s why he immediately tried to defend him when he saw Shi Weichong appear. Hearing Shi Jin’s words he frowned and asked, “Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’ll be fine.” After that, Shi Jin looked at Shi Weichong, forced out a somewhat ugly smile and said, “Big Brother, I really won’t run anymore. I’m living in a club called Nightlight not far from here, and I’ll stay there until the end of this year.”
Shi Weichong observed him for a few seconds as if he was trying to see whether he lied or not, then slowly let go of his hand. He wasn’t completely convinced though, because he stepped toward the back door of the car and got in. At the same time, he pulled out his phone and dialed a number, saying, “Third, come to the mall’s entrance, we’ve found Xiao Jin.”
Shi Jin gasped—Thi, Third? Rong Zhouzhong was here too? How come the one time he went out he bumped into three of his brothers?
Hearing Shi Jin mention Nightlight, Gua Two raised his eyebrows slightly. He realized Shi Jin was going to let Lian Jun take care of the matters, so he stopped hesitating and put his gun away, exchanging it for a cell phone. He quickly made a call and explained the situation here.
Two minutes later, both Shi Weichong and Xiang Aoting’s phones rang. They looked at each other. One brother answered the call directly, the other squeezed in next to Shi Jin, closed the door and also reached for his phone.
“Shi Weichong speaking.”
They both started speaking at the same moment. Shi Jin’s side was touching Xiang Aoting, so he was able to hear an indistinct voice from his phone; it seemed the person who called was Xiang Aoting’s commanding officer, who reprimanded him for attacking a member of the affiliated forces and ordered him to stop immediately.
Xiang Aoting frowned, answered ‘yes, sir’ several times, then hung up the phone and looked at Gua Two, studying him.
Shi Weichong was apparently called by Lian Jun in person. Their conversation was not long but obviously less than friendly, as could be deduced from his rapidly sinking expression.
Finally, Shi Weichong concluded their talk with a “He’s my brother!” shout, then looked at Shi Jin, who kept peeking at him from the side, and asked, “This is what you meant when you said you’re staying in a safe place and found a stable job?”
Shi Jin evaded his gaze, laughed awkwardly and didn’t dare to answer. He was really curious about what Lian Jun had said to Shi Weichong.
The situation was temporarily stabilized thanks to these calls. Five minutes later, Rong Zhouzhong, wearing a hat and mask, walked up to the car. His beautiful peach blossom eyes glanced around, finally falling on Shi Jin’s ‘trendy’ hairstyle, and the corner of his mouth curled up in a faint smile. He didn’t ask anything but simply circled the car, opened the back door and got in.
The expression in his eyes was full of meaning and it somehow made Shi Jin feel cold, so he furtively moved a little closer to Gua Two. Xiang Aoting noticed Shi Jin’s movements, scowled, then grabbed him and pushed him into the back seat.
Shi Jin, who had accidentally ended up sitting between Shi Weichong and Rong Zhouzhong: “…” Mom, it’s freaking scary.
Xiao Si was trembling: <JinJin, your progress bar stopped at 900 and did not rise again, but I have a feeling the situation is a bit bad…>
“Your feeling is right, it’s bad,” answered Shi Jin in his mind. He glanced left and right at the two pairs of legs, his heart filling with despair—three brothers at the same time, wasn’t it practically the worst-case scenario?
Shi Weichong was very dissatisfied with Shi Jin’s hunched and stiff sitting posture, so he pulled him up and made him sit straight, then said to Gua Two, “Everybody’s here. Your boss asked me to come to talk with him, so hurry up and drive.”
Gua Two also received orders from Lian Jun. He took a last look at Shi Jin in the rearview mirror and started the car.
Departure was happy, the return was full of dread.
After arriving at the club, Gua Two led everyone to the special elevator and went straight up to the sixth floor where Lian Jun lived.
Unexpectedly, Lian Jun actually waited right outside the elevator, wearing a red robe with the white plum blossoms pattern, which he seldom wore. He was dazzling like a red Datura flower blooming in a world of ice and snow.
Gua Two was the first to walk out of the elevator. “Jun-shao.”
Lian Jun acknowledged him and beckoned to Shi Jin, “Come here.”
His ‘golden thigh’ was calling, so Shi Jin hurriedly stepped forward.
The three brothers were taken completely by surprise by Lian Jun; they hadn’t expected the person supporting Shi Jin was someone looking like that. For a while, they only stared blankly, failing to stop Shi Jin from acting like a baby bird returning to the nest. By the time they recovered, Shi Jin had already stood beside Lian Jun and instinctively grabbed the armrest of his wheelchair.
Shi Weichong’s face darkened. He walked out of the elevator, stopped in front of Lian Jun and looked down on him, using the advantage of his height. “Mr. Lian, I want to take my brother home and you have no right to stop me.”
Instead of answering him, Lian Jun turned his head slightly to look at Shi Jin and asked, “Do you want to go home?”
Everyone’s sight moved to Shi Jin, who turned rigid for a moment, feeling an enormous amount of pressure from it; even his ‘golden thigh’s’ eyes were drilling holes in him. Finally, he braced himself, faced the urging gazes of his brothers and shook his head. “No, I want to stay with Jun-shao. I like it here,” he said while observing his progress bar.
“In that case, no one can take you away,” Lian Jun soothed him. Then he looked at Shi Weichong and said, “This is my stance on this issue, Mr. Shi. If you can’t accept it, please go back, because we have nothing to talk about.”
Xiao Si breathed a sigh of relief and said happily, <It’s not rising! Your progress bar stopped at 900, it seems Darling is giving you a safety margin.>
Shi Jin was also relieved, his hand tightening its hold on the wheelchair’s armrest.
When Shi Weichong heard the “no” from Shi Jin’s mouth, he couldn’t restrain himself from stepping forward in order to drag Shi Jin back. Gua Two, who had been quietly waiting on one side, immediately moved in front of him. Although this time he did not pull out the gun, he still exuded an extremely threatening feeling.
“Big Brother,” called out Xiang Aoting, signaling Shi Weichong not to act rashly. The soldier’s intuition told him that even though the reception hall in front of the elevator seemed to be completely empty, there were at least five hidden guns aiming at them.
In short, this was the other side’s territory and they would be at a disadvantage if they tried to do anything by force.
Shi Weichong understood his meaning and reluctantly retracted his hand. He looked at Shi Jin and asked, “Why?”
Shi Jin took a look at the progress bar, recalled the days right after his rebirth when he was constantly frightened and forced to hide, and remembered how the original ‘Shi Jin’s’ life ended. Now, relying on Lian Jun’s presence, he looked straight into Shi Weichong’s eyes and said something that almost broke all illusion of family warmth: “Because I want to live happily. Big Brother, Third Brother, Fourth Brother, I don’t understand—it was Dad who treated you unfairly, why do you hate me? What did I do wrong?” After that, he looked away from Shi Weichong, pushed Lian Jun’s wheelchair and left without turning back.
The living room was at the other end of the corridor. The only sound that could be heard as they walked was the quiet squeaking of the wheelchair wheels.
“Shi Jin,” said Lian Jun abruptly broke the silence.
Shi Jin was nervously confirming the status of his progress bar. “Yes, Jun-shao?”
“Today is special. Even if you cry, I can pretend not to see it.” After saying that inexplicable sentence, Lian Jun gestured Shi Jin to stop. “How come the living room is dark? Go and turn the lights on.”
Not suspecting anything, Shi Jin obediently circled the wheelchair and moved toward the light switch.
When the switch was pressed, the party poppers hanging above the door exploded, showering Shi Jin with confetti and colorful ribbons. At the same time, the living room lights lit up and the enormous, three-layered birthday cake sitting on the tea table was revealed.
Shi Jin was struck dumb.
“You’ve come back too early, so there was no time to prepare anything more.” Lian Jun moved his wheelchair to Shi Jin’s side, took his hand, stuffed a red envelope into it, and said, “Happy birthday, congratulations on becoming an adult.”
What Shi Jin says in the first paragraph is completely random and found on the internet, because I don’t know any dialects (I’m not a native speaker).
“Peach blossom eyes” [桃花眼] – another popular idiom. Here’s the explanation by etvo from volarenovels: It’s related to the term 桃花, which is essentially someone’s love life/relationships. Having good peach blossoms is having encounters with good prospects who could develop into something more. Rotten peach blossoms are encounters with the sketchy, the odd, the random people that really don’t fit you. Having peach blossom eyes (which I honestly would translate as naturally seductive/alluring/flirty eyes) means someone who easily attracts a member of the opposite gender (or whichever gender floats the MC’s boat). It’s not an actual shape like the phoenix or almond-shaped eyes.
Well then, who expected this turn of events? ( ๑‾̀◡‾́)σ»
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