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Counter Poison With Poison
Bet had an emergency (as in “drop everything” emergency) so this chapter is still unedited as of now.
Shi Jin sprawled on the sofa in the living room and kept sighing, looking troubled.
Xiao Si asked, concerned, <What’s wrong, JinJin?>
“I am analyzing the pros and cons of office romance,” Shi Jin replied, letting out a sigh again.
Xiao Si was confused: <Office? Do you want to have an office, JinJin?>
“Technically, I’m an unemployed vagrant—what would I want an office for?” Shi Jin rolled over to lie on his stomach and looked towards the windows as the pitter-patter of raindrops signaled the beginning of rain. He said, distressed, “Lian Jun used to be my boss: I worked for him, he paid me for my labor—it was a clear-cut exchange, everyone knew where they stood. Now that our personal relationship changed, if he still pays me but subconsciously refuses to let me work, won’t it mean I’m kept by him? Well, though I know that’s not what he means.”
Xiao Si didn’t think his conclusion was right. It refuted, <But you do work—didn’t Darling say your job is to accompany and protect him? You’re eating with him every day, give him a massage, take care of him… And you obviously do a good job because Darling is finally putting on some flesh.>
Shi Jin was dumbstruck. Xiao Si’s words seemed to make sense; when he accepted the position of “Gua Four,” he was told his task was to accompany Lian Jun, wasn’t he? From that point of view, he’d indeed never stopped working.
But he still felt it wasn’t quite right.
He frowned and turned on his back again. He pondered for a moment, then abruptly sat up straight and said, “No, that’s wrong—I do all this because I love him, not because it’s my duty. How could taking care of him be a job?”
Xiao Si replied timidly, <But before you and Darling became a couple, you did it because it was your job. Um, JinJin, I don’t really understand what you’re tangled about…>
That shut Shi Jin up since he found he couldn’t refute Xiao Si’s words. He sat frozen for a long time, speechless, then relaxed and leaned back on the sofa. Sighing, he said, “Before, we weren’t in a relationship, so it was fine. Now that we are lovers, getting paid for taking care of him, that’s not… And this whole matter aside, I just want to do more, to help him more—he works himself into the ground, there are so many things he has to worry about…”
For example, now, Lian Jun was on edge because of the task of destroying the four organizations Gua One and the others undertook. Immediately after the meeting, he called Gua Nine and asked him to consolidate the information and help the four coordinate their work. He was so busy that he didn’t even come for lunch, just ate something randomly at his desk.
Gua One and the other three also bustled around, getting ready. The four organizations were located in four completely different directions, one of them across the border. They had to prepare all the necessary equipment and supplies as soon as possible, mobilize manpower, familiarize themselves with the enemy’s information, rush to their location, develop a combat plan… And despite everyone being so busy, Shi Jin couldn’t help them with anything; he had so much free time he could devote it to matters as grave as pondering the “office romance”…
“I’m really useless,” he sighed, accidentally saying it out loud.
“It turns out you have some self-knowledge,” snorted Fei Yujing, who appeared in the living room at an unknown time.
Shi Jin looked up at him, guessing he just came back from outside when he saw his slightly damp hair and the rain marks on his suit. He also noticed the dark circles under his eyes, and said without thinking, “It seems you didn’t sleep well last night—did you have a nightmare?”
After seeing the scene in the villa, any ordinary person’s sleep quality would drop, at least for a time. The circles under Fei Yujing’s eyes were so dark that he definitely didn’t have a good night’s sleep.
The lawyer stiffened, then sneered, “You think I’m you?” After saying this, he turned and left, walking a bit faster than usual.
Shi Jin silently watched him go, left speechless by his stubbornness. He turned his head to look out of the window where Gua Three’s subordinates were organizing the convoy, ignoring the rain. He thought about the tragedy in the villa and couldn’t relax.
An eye for an eye, okay, very exciting, but when Annihilation fought back, it would be impossible for no one on their side to get hurt, or even…
Initial preparations finished, Gua One and the others took their people and left, heading towards their respective mission destinations.
Lian Jun and Shi Jin sent them out together, watching side by side as the cars drove around a curve in the road and disappeared.
“Shi Jin, I have not forgotten that you are not only my lover, but also my subordinate, and an excellent one at that. I never meant to waste your talents, to trap you by my side and not let you grow,” Lian Jun suddenly said, taking Shi Jin’s hand. Looking toward the end of the road, he whispered, “I’m just not ready to watch you leave like this, with me personally sending you to the battlefield. You’re not experienced enough to deal with larger conflicts and battles and I’m not mentally prepared for it. For the time being, I can’t let you go even deeper into danger—we’re not ready yet, neither you nor I… Shi Jin, can you please give me a bit of time?”
Stunned, Shi Jin looked at Lian Jun and instinctively held his hand, tightening his grip: “Lian Jun…”
“I really like when you call me like this.” Lian Jun gazed up at him and kissed the back of his hand. “If we want the relationship to last, learning to work together is absolutely necessary. I’m too busy and sometimes I miss things, even some very important ones. When I do, please tell me—I don’t want you to be unhappy.”
Hearing him say this, Shi Jin’s heart immediately softened.
How could this man be so gentle and thoughtful? Shi Jin only asked once; later, although he was a little bit depressed, he deliberately avoided this matter, not wanting Lian Jun to notice. And yet Lian Jun still found out, and earnestly explained his feelings to Shi Jin as soon as he was done dealing with the most urgent matters.
He couldn’t help leaning over and hugging his lover, saying, “I am a bit unhappy, but not because of you, because of myself. I feel I can do nothing to help you… I’m sorry, you’re already this busy and I even made you worry about me too.”
“Worrying about you is my right,” Lian Jun soothed, stroking his hair. “You being by my side is already the greatest help to me.”
Oh, don’t you have a sweet mouth.
The wrinkle between Shi Jin’s eyebrows smoothed, and his downcast mood disappeared without a trace. He was caught between an urge to smile and frustration—despite being well aware Lian Jun was appeasing him right now, he still was entirely willing to let himself be appeased.
They say that being in love made people stupid—it seemed he wasn’t an exception.
Or perhaps, it wasn’t that love made people stupid, but that they didn’t want to add more burdens to their loved ones, so they were willing to be fools.
After dinner, the first message from the four came—Gua Two reported he’d arrived in the vicinity of the enemy’s headquarters and was now organizing troops and firepower.
Two hours later, Gua Three and Gua Five also reported in. Lian Jun inquired about their situation. After confirming that everything was fine, he asked no more questions and told them to focus on making the tactical plans.
About midnight, Gua One, who had the longest way to go, finally send news too: he reached his destination and was working with the local Annihilation branch to adjust troops and prepare for action.
So far there were no hitches. After exchanging information, all four tacitly chose the same plan—attack directly after their troops were in position, catching the enemy by surprise.
Lian Jun didn’t interfere with their tactical arrangements, he only said he was waiting for good news.
This night was destined to be sleepless.
Annihilation’s strength was beyond any doubt. Gua Two was the first to sound the battle horn, a little after one o’clock in the morning. He kept in contact with Lian Jun the whole time, giving him live commentary; from what he said, his forces steamrolled over the enemy organization, and not only captured its leader alive but even found his hidden safe, containing account books and such. It was a major gain.
Not long after that, Gua Three and Gua Five also moved, and crushed the enemy in the same way. However, Gua Three didn’t catch the leader—the man took his own life after he was certain he was going to lose.
Gua One was the last to take action. Gunfire attached great importance to the organization he was responsible for; the base’s layout and the strength of its defenses made it very difficult to attack. Gua One was cautious—he first breached the weakest point of the enemy’s defense line, secured his position, and only then launched the all-out offensive.
However, this meant Gua One’s battle took much longer and only finished before dawn. He, too, successfully took down the enemy organization and managed to prevent the leader from committing suicide, capturing him alive.
At that moment, the mission issued by Lian Jun had been accomplished. It took less than a day—this efficiency was astonishing.
Shi Jin accompanied Lian Jun and witnessed the whole process. Awestruck, he had to admit Lian Jun was absolutely right not sending him out this time: with his current strength and experience, he simply wasn’t able to do what Gua Two and the others did.
The disparity in strength between an ordinary, low-rank policeman and the members of the underworld, whose life was endless war, was not something which could be overcome just by a little bit of training and doing a few small tasks.
“Withdraw at once, don’t let Gunfire catch up with you. I’ll send someone to cover your retreat but be careful anyway,” Lian Jun issued the final order, then leaned back in his wheelchair and massaged the bridge of his nose.
Shi Jin woke from his thoughts and rushed to his side, asking concernedly, “Do you want to take a rest? You’ve been busy all night.”
Lian Jun lowered his hand and looked at him, the fatigue on his face dissipating a bit. “And you stayed with me the whole time though you didn’t have to. I still need to watch over their retreat, but you can go to sleep. I’ll call Gua Nine to replace you,” he said, touching the teenager’s cheek.
“My duty is to accompany you, so I’m just doing my job,” Shi Jin corrected him seriously. He grabbed his hand and kissed him, then said with a smile, “It seems we’re going to be up a little longer. Give me a moment, I’ll get you something to drink, to help you stay awake.”
Lian Jun couldn’t help but answer his smile with his own. He squeezed his hand and nodded in agreement, no longer insisting on Shi Jin going to rest.
If you’re seeing this notice, you’re reading this chapter on pirate site – the original translator of Death Progress Bar is Betwixted Translations.
At that time, the first vestiges of dawn barely began to break across the eastern horizon, so everyone else was still sleeping. Shi Jin quietly hurried to the kitchen, heated up a pot of milk, and got some food, then put it all on the tray.
When he walked into the living room, he noticed someone reclining on the single sofa near the window. Surprised, he detoured in that direction to take a closer look, and did a double-take—unexpectedly, it was Fei Yujing, in his pajamas and with face looking even worse than the previous day. His eyes were closed and there was a deep frown on his face, and the dark circles under his eyes seemed darker. Seeing his state, it was easy to guess what was going on.
“Did you have a nightmare again?” Shi Jin asked.
Startled by the sudden noise, Fei Yujing immediately opened his eyes. “No, I just woke up early and came out to get some fresh air,” he said, still refusing to admit it.
You would’ve been more convincing if at least one window was open.
But Shi Jin didn’t say it out loud. He put down the tray, took a disposable cup from the side table, and filled it with milk. Sharing some of the snacks from the tray, he said, “Silently trying to endure won’t make it better, you know. If you can’t sleep, you can try to drink a cup of warm milk in the evening. Exercising and suitable entertainment help to relax too, and avoid high-intensity mental work before going to bed. If none of these work, talk with a friend, let it off your chest—you will be better off doing that than trying to deal with it alone. Keep up what you’re doing now and you will almost certainly develop a psychological problem.”
“Are you cursing me?” Fei Yujing asked, his eyebrows knitting.
Shi Jin felt he would never understand just how his brother’s brain worked. He looked at him as if he was an idiot, picked up the tray, and said, “Yes, I’m cursing you.” After that, he walked out of the living room, not willing to waste any more time on him.
Shi Jin’s last look made Fei Yujing choke. He stared at the teenager’s back, eyed the steaming milk and sweet-smelling pastries on the side table, frowned in irritation, and leaned back on the sofa, closing his eyes again.
By ten in the morning, Gua One and the others finally confirmed that they had withdrawn to a safe location. Relieved, Lian Jun called Gua Nine and told him to keep an eye on the next part of their retreat, then took Shi Jin and went back to his room.
Shi Jin waited until Lian Jun finished washing, helped him settle down in the bed, and prepared to leave.
Before he could, Lian Jun caught his hand: “You’re not going to sleep?”
“I will, I just have to take a shower first,” Shi Jin replied.
Lian Jun shifted to the other side of the bed, making a place for him: “I don’t mind, come in.”
Shi Jin opened his mouth, wanting to say he planned to sleep in his own room, but seeing Lian Jun’s eyes, filled with affection and concern, he swallowed the words back. He obediently climbed into the bed, pulled the quilt over them, and said, “Sleep.”
But Lian Jun leaned over and kissed him.
Shi Jin was caught by surprise. However, when he glimpsed Lian Jun’s serious expression and felt the earnestness of the kiss, he closed his eyes and raised his arms to hug him.
They didn’t wake up until dinner. During the day, Gua One and the others had come back and were now making up their sleep. Lian Jun called Gua Nine and asked about their injuries; after being informed that none of the four had been hurt, he went on to work, relieved.
Gua Two and the others woke up about 10 p.m., then found Lian Jun to give their reports.
The three leaders captured alive and their most important subordinates had been separated and detained in different bases of Annihilation. All the information found was brought back; Gua Nine was sorting it out.
Lian Jun confirmed some details, then named several other organizations for Gua One and the other three to take care of.
Shi Jin was taken aback—he hadn’t expected there would be a second round of cleaning up of Gunfire’s subordinate organizations. The four, however, seemed to have predicted this, and left immediately after receiving their tasks.
This time, Shi Jin wasn’t foolish enough to ask for one. After watching them leave, he said, “So you intend to continue fighting?”
“Naturally. We will only stop when Gunfire comes to find us to negotiate,” Lian Jun replied. “Until then…”
When Shi Jin heard this, he remembered what happened after the end of the conference: Zuo Yang wanted to use Long Shi to reel Lian Jun in but had it turn on himself and fell into Lian Jun’s trap instead. He suddenly thought that the situation now was a bit similar to that time.
He felt that he understood Lian Jun’s way of doing things—ignore whatever leverage the enemy has, just find a way to turn the initiative back to your side; as long as you do, you’ve won half of the battle.
This cycle followed through the next week: Gua Two and the others went out—wiped out the organizations they were assigned—retreated to “headquarters”—got a new task—went out again. At a steady pace, they got rid of Gunfire’s subordinate organizations in the whole southeastern region, destroying Gunfire’s business network.
After a few days, Gunfire finally reacted and began to fight back. At that point, Gua Two and the rest simply forwent the “retreat to headquarters” part—after destroying an organization, they received new orders remotely and headed straight for the new target.
Because the tempo of the attack accelerated, Lian Jun stayed up through the night more and more often. His face was a lot paler, and whatever flesh he’d managed to put on was gone again. Shi Jin was deeply distressed by this; he practically stopped leaving Lian Jun’s side, making him eat and sleep whenever possible, trying his best to keep him from exhausting himself.
Since during this period Shi Jin sleep-time was extremely irregular, he began to encounter Fei Yujing in the living room at various ungodly hours, looking worse day by day. Afraid the lawyer would collapse and delay everyone’s work, every time Shi Jin ran into him, he would give him a glass of milk and “how to deal with insomnia and nightmares” speech.
Fei Yujing seemed tired of seeing him. His attitude changed from the initial scorn to irritation and pointedly ignoring him. Once, he became so annoyed he went straight back to his room.
Shi Jin watched him go and smacked his lips, satisfied. “I just made him angry, didn’t I?” He asked Xiao Si.
Xiao Si felt a little bit sorry for Fei Yujing. <Yes, he looked pretty mad. Why do you keep bullying him, JinJin?>
And it was bullying. No one else could tell, but the system knew that what Shi Jin was doing was intentionally picking on his brother.
Shi Jin might not always be tactful when dealing with others, but he had never been this obtuse and annoying.
“Bullying? I’m just worried about him, you know? He always treats me coldly but I’m turning the other cheek and am still concerned about him—aren’t I a good person?” Shi Jin asked with a straight face.
Xiao Si decided answering this would either displease its host or hurt its conscience, so it kept silent.
The sleepless nights passed one after another. As the government side and Annihilation mobilized all their military resources, and Old Ghost’s economic war against Nine Eagles grew more and more fierce, the situation in the Southeast gradually became turbulent. Almost all local organizations discovered the winds had changed, and turned their attention to the targeted Gunfire, ready to make trouble.
After yet another round of clean-ups, on a rare sunny day in this season, Gua Two and the others came back. They had been ordered to stop the purge of Gunfire’s subordinate organizations for now.
Shi Jin wondered, “Gunfire asked to negotiate with us?”
“No, it was Zuo Yang. He contacted Old Ghost,” Gua Two said, yawning and scratching at the whiskers which had replaced his stubble. “Oh, these past days were way too exciting, I need to slow down. I’m going to sleep—would you like to accompany me, Little JinJin?”
Shi Jin took a step back to show that no, he wouldn’t like, and silently pointed behind his back.
Gua Two froze, a bad feeling appearing in his heart. He slowly turned and found that Lian Jun appeared behind him at some point, and was now watching him with a profound expression. Feeling chills running down his spine, he immediately explained, “I was just kidding, really, this was just a joke,” then backed away and fled.
Not raising his head from his laptop, Gua Nine commented, “I swear, he has the memory of a goldfish—every time he comes back after a finishing a long mission, he would get himself punished several times because he can’t keep his mouth shut. Serves him right.”
Shi Jin burst out laughing.
Expressionless, Lian Jun pulled him down and pinched his mouth—You of all people dare to laugh at this?
At night, Lian Jun once again let Shi Jin rest in his room, somehow making it seem completely natural. Shi Jin thought of the room given to him that he had never slept in, pretended not to notice Lian Jun’s subterfuge, and compliantly lay down by his side.
As he was discovering, it was easy to climb into some beds, but quite hard to get out of them.
Shi Jin had been nocturnal these past days; now he woke up in the early hours of the morning and couldn’t fall asleep again. Not wanting to disturb Lian Jun, he quietly got up and habitually walked towards the living room.
As expected, Fei Yujing was there, leaning against the single sofa as usual. A shadow fell on his face, hiding his expression.
“This happens every single night—you know, you really can die from lack of sleep.” Shi Jin stopped in front of him, frowning.
It’s been more than a week. If things went on like this, Fei Yujing was likely to end up in hospital.
Fei Yujing was completely still as if he already was a corpse.
Shi Jin scrutinized him for a moment, then turned around and left.
At the sound of footsteps, Fei Yujing’s fingers twitched but he still didn’t open his eyes.
Ten minutes later, Shi Jin came back with hot milk and snacks. He turned on the lights in the living room, put the tray on the coffee table, dragged the small side table in front of Fei Yujing, and pulled over a second seat. Arrangements completed, he moved the tray to the side table and sat opposite Fei Yujing.
The man opened his eyes and looked at him. “Shi Jin, what the heck are you doing?” His tone was actually calm, which was increasingly rare these days.
Shi Jin glanced at him and took out the tablet. “What do you mean? I became accustomed to staying up through the night, and now I can’t sleep. So, I decided to watch a movie.”
“Watch it somewhere else,” Fei Yujing tried to drive him out.
Shi Jin fiddled with the tablet, ignoring him. “No, I like this place the best. If you’re bothered, you leave.” And he tapped the movie icon.
A piercing shriek came from the tablet’s speaker, all the more shrill in the silence of the night. Fei Yujing jerked in shock. Face dark, he uttered through clenched teeth, “What the hell are you doing, Shi Jin!”
“I told you, watching a movie,” Shi Jin replied. His expression turned mysterious, and he continued, “You don’t know, but when I just joined Annihilation, I was scared of everything, and the sound of gunshots made me unable to sleep for a week. At that time, the old doctor in the organization told me of a certain method. It worked—I could sleep again, and I’m not afraid of gunshots anymore.”
Fei Yujing really wanted to ignore him or mock him and drive him away, but nearly ten days of being tormented by insomnia and nightmares had almost driven him crazy. He thought about all the work he still needed to do, struggled for a while, and finally decided to give in. Tone stiff and awkward, he asked, “What method?”
“Countering poison with poison.” Shi Jin dragged the chair to his side and enlarged the picture on the tablet. “See it enough times and it stops being scary. Today is a moonless night—don’t you think it’s perfect for horror movies?”
Fei Yujing looked at the grimacing, bloody face on the screen and squeezed his eyes shut. For the first time, he reached for the glass of milk Shi Jin gave him, and drained it in one go.
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