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After returning to the club from the orphanage, Shi Jin’s mood was downcast. Seeing this, Lian Jun put down his work for a while and took out a tablet to play mahjong with him.
Shi Jin’s sleep was very restless that night, dreaming all the while. Things that Jian Chenghua had told him and fragments of the original ‘Shi Jin’s’ memories mixed together, producing all kinds of chaotic pictures, disturbing his rest.
Half-dreaming and half-awake, he felt a warm embrace around his body and a gentle touch on his back. He wanted to open his eyes but was unable to, his consciousness imprisoned in the dreamland which refused to let him go.
Then, little by little, those scattered, fragmented pictures disappeared and were swallowed by the reassuring black of oblivion.
When Shi Jin opened his eyes the next morning, he saw Lian Jun’s sleeping face close to his. Remembering the embrace he felt in his sleep, his expression softened. He moved forward to hug Lian Jun, taking him into his arms and gently stroking his back. As his hand brushed the ridge of his lover’s spine, which protruded a bit too much, his chest swelled with heartache and tenderness.
When Lian Jun got better, he must fatten him up, so that he would no longer be able to feel his bones.
But what would a fat Lian Jun look like?
Eyes narrowing, he scrutinized the other man’s beautiful face, imagining it round and chubby, and couldn’t hold back a chuckle.
Lian Jun was so handsome that even if he gained weight, it would not detract from his good looks.
“What are you laughing at?”
Lian Jun’s closed eyes suddenly opened. His gaze was lucid, unlike that of someone who was just waking up.
Shi Jin froze, surprised, then his smile widened to a big grin and he hugged his lover like an octopus, rubbing his hair and back like a child. “Good morning, Darling!” he said cheerily.
<Good morning, big Darling and little Darling!> came Xiao Si’s enthusiastic echo in Shi Jin’s mind.
Shi Jin smiled with even more happiness.
Caught by surprise, Lian Jun fell victim to Shi Jin’s mauling. Though he didn’t understand why the young man was so happy all of a sudden, the corners of his mouth rose. Stifling the smile, he grabbed Shi Jin’s hands and said with mock seriousness, “Behave yourself or there will be a cucumber feast today.”
Cucumber feast? I haven’t heard those words in a long time.
Shi Jin’s memory was inevitably pulled back to the past, when the two of them hadn’t known each other for long, and he couldn’t help but burst out laughing. His hand sneaking into Lian Jun’s clothes, he said, “Cucumber feast, huh? Okay, I’ll start eating now.”
No man could stand being provoked like that early in the morning.
Lian Jun caught Shi Jin’s unruly hand, restraining it. Looking at the young man’s hair, messy from sleep, and his silly and wicked smile, he couldn’t resist putting his other hand on Shi Jin’s neck to pull him closer and kiss that naughty mouth, sealing all that wanton sweetness between their lips.
The details of Lian Jun’s physical condition had always been kept secret—outsiders only knew that Lian Jun’s legs were disabled due to poisoning, but had no idea he could still walk. In order to keep it this way, every one of his physical examinations took place in one of Annihilation’s private hospitals. Of course, this time was no exception.
Uncle Long had been busy arranging everything ever since he arrived in B city. Today, he could finally take Lian Jun to be checked, but there was a small bump in the otherwise smooth road.
“You guys…” Scowling, Uncle Long looked at the perfectly calm Lian Jun and Shi Jin avoiding his gaze in guilt, sitting side by side on the sofa. His eyebrows twitched. “What did I tell you earlier? Eat light food and avoid sex. You…”
“Jun-shao and I really didn’t do anything, I swear,” Shi Jin explained, his voice earnest as he raised his head to meet his eyes.
Uncle Long responded with a glare. “Do I look like a fool? Have you seen your neck…? Eh, forget it. Gather your things, we’re leaving in a moment.”
Shocked, Shi Jin raised a hand to cover his neck, staring at Lian Jun with wide eyes.
Lian Jun, still unruffled, looked at Uncle Long and explained, “I know my body better than anyone else. Don’t worry, it won’t affect the examination.”
“Are you the doctor or am I? Do you think that it doesn’t matter just because you say so?” Uncle Long griped, but seeing Shi Jin covering his neck and looking as if he wanted to die from embarrassment, he grudgingly swallowed the rest of his words. After urging them to get ready, he left.
The second the room emptied, Shi Jin turned to Lian Jun and grabbed his collar. “Why didn’t you explain properly, it’s obvious we didn’t… He clearly misunderstood!”
Lian Jun took his hand and raised it to his mouth to kiss it. “Weren’t you satisfied earlier?”
Shi Jin’s words were blocked, then he rebutted, “But you weren’t, you obviously held back! It was the same with the massage last time, I was afraid you’d hurt something with all that restraint!”
“Until the examination is done.” Lian Jun leaned forward and kissed him, pacifying him. “All right, let’s get ready, there are a lot of things that need to be examined today.”
‘Until the examination is done’? What then? How come it feels like the other part of this sentence is missing?
Shi Jin was puzzled at first, and then was struck with the epiphany that Lian Jun meant he wouldn’t hold back anymore. His mood went through a violent fluctuation, but he calmed himself straight away. Cupping Lian Jun’s face in his hands, he gave him an intent look, then kissed him and stood up. “Remember you said that—no going back on your words. I’ll get our things.”
Lian Jun touched his face and watched him pack, his smile growing deeper.
If you’re seeing this notice, you’re reading this chapter on pirate site – the original translator of Death Progress Bar is Betwixted Translations.
The group left the club in two cars. Shi Jin talked Lian Jun into playing mahjong; when he heard Gua Two say they were about to arrive, he pulled his mind back from the game and looked out of the window. “Why are we in the university town?” he asked, surprised.
“Because the hospital I arranged is here.” Uncle Long, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, turned to give him a frosty glare. “You got a problem with that?”
Shi Jin, well aware that a wise man submits to circumstances, hastened to reply, “No, no, how could I? Just… how come our hospital is here? This is a university town after all, isn’t it too busy?”
He thought the hospital would be similar to Nightlight, in a good, but relatively quiet location.
“Well, as the capital, B city is different from other cities,” Gua Two explained on behalf of Uncle Long. “We can’t act too brazen. Compared to other places, the situation in the university town is less complicated; it’s easier to hide here.
Shi Jin nodded in understanding and looked away from the window. All of a sudden, he remembered that back when he’d been shot in the shoulder, Li Jiuzheng had taken him to a private clinic in B city at first. His heart skipping a beat, he nervously scanned the road outside the car.
He wouldn’t run into Li Jiuzheng here, would he? After all, his brother’s master had many students—Li Jiuzheng’s fellow apprentices owned, worked in, or had connections with numerous hospitals and clinics in the city. Including the ones in the university town!
<Don’t worry, JinJin, it’ll be fine. Could there really be so many coincidences in the world?> Xiao Si comforted.
When he thought it through, Shi Jin agreed that it would indeed be too much of a coincidence. Not watching the surroundings any longer, he continued to play mahjong with Lian Jun.
The cars passed through the university town. Next to an old and well established medical college, they made a turn, driving straight through the gates of an affiliated clinic.
Shi Jin was stunned. “Is this what you call not acting brazenly?”
A university-affiliated clinic? The way they did things was too shocking!
‘Easier to hide,’ my ass! It is hidden, but!
“Well, there are a lot of preferential policies for academically affiliated institutions,” Gua Two replied, not batting an eye. “For this clinic, Jun-shao spent a lot of money to build a new campus for this university. And everything was done by the law and through formal channels, without us asking the government to pull strings for us. That’s why, even if the authorities know the clinic is run by us, they have no way and no reason to interfere.”
Shi Jin: “……” It’s true that when you have money, you can do whatever you want.
“It’s your turn,” Lian Jun tapped Shi Jin’s hand.
Shi Jin blinked, curbing his wandering thoughts, and leaned against him without a word, sticking close—this smart, beautiful Darling was his, he had to do his best to protect him.
After the cars passed through the gate, it didn’t take long for the surroundings to become peaceful. Shi Jin observed the elegantly designed buildings hidden among the dense greenery on both sides of the road. “The environment here is very good,” he praised.
“If you like, we can stay here for a few days,” was Lian Jun’s thoughtful suggestion.
Straight away, the teenager shook his head. “No, let’s go back right after the examination. This place might be nice, but it’s still a hospital—it will never be as comfortable as home.”
Lian Jun relished the way he called the place they lived. “Okay, then we’ll go right back.”
They arrived in front of a building in the deepest part of the complex. A doctor in a white coat waited in front of the entrance; when the car stopped, he hurried forward to help open the door.
He seemed to be Uncle Long’s subordinate because his attitude towards the older doctor was very respectful. Uncle Long accepted the documents he handed over, and asked about the preparation of various equipment to be used in the check-up as he looked through the papers. After confirming everything was in order, he took Lian Jun’s wheelchair and pushed it into the building himself, heading straight to the room where the first part of the physical examination was going to take place.
Lian Jun’s condition was quite special. As such, in addition to the usual equipment for a physical check-up, he also needed to undergo some checks that required the use of special, large-scale instruments, which took a long time and was rather exhausting.
Shi Jin accompanied Lian Jun through the morning, during the routine check-up. After lunch, he intended to follow him for the special examination but was kicked out by Uncle Long, the reason being that the afternoon examination was so detailed that only doctors and patients were allowed, and the patient’s family couldn’t enter.
And so, he had no choice but to wait outside, wilting on the bench outside the inspection room and staring at Lian Jun’s progress bar.
Gua Two, Gua Five, and the others walked by as they returned from lunch; their shifts ended at noon. Seeing Shi Jin looking as if he lost his soul, Gua Two was speechless for a moment, then pulled him up, saying, “He’s just having a check-up, but looking at your expression… Come on, let’s go outside and take a walk to improve your mood. When Jun-shao finishes the examination and comes out, you don’t want to show him this miserable face, do you?”
Shi Jin was reluctant to leave, but he couldn’t resist Gua Two’s strength and was dragged away whether he wanted it or not.
The two left the building and stood in front of a flower bed looking at the sun, blanking out. In the end, Gua Two, unable to endure, raised a hand to wipe the sweat from his forehead and said, “It’s really hot today.”
Shi Jin looked at him without any expression, pulled his arm out of his hold, and turned around, wanting to go back to the building.
“No, don’t. Gua Five and Gua Nine are guarding inside—you want to sit there and stare at them? It’s boring.” Gua Two grabbed Shi Jin’s arm again, refusing to let go. An idea flashed through his mind. “Let’s go visit the university, why don’t we? The college entrance exam results will be out soon—how about I take you to experience the university atmosphere in advance?”
Shi Jin refused to cooperate. “I don’t want to.”
Gua Two threw him a glare. “I don’t care. My rank is higher than yours, you have to listen to me.”
Shi Jin rolled his eyes and turned to leave but Gua Two grabbed him and dragged him to the side door connecting the clinic and the medical university.
As they walked, Gua Two conjured up the campus map from his pocket. “Why don’t you consider this university? It’s old and well-established and has cultivated countless outstanding talents. It has a good atmosphere, a large campus, the food in the cafeteria is delicious, and most importantly, it’s cooperating with Jun-shao! Isn’t it simply the best choice?”
Shi Jin gave him a narrow-eyed glance.
Ignoring it, the other man continued, “It’s much better than being locked in a police academy, where you can’t leave except for a few days. Don’t you smell it? The air here is fresh and filled with the scent of youthfulness and freedom.”
“I only smell the formalin,” Shi Jin replied without mercy, scorning Gua Two’s thoughtful consideration. “You’d better give up—I won’t change my mind, I’m going to attend a police academy. Besides, whatever I study, medicine is the only thing I’d never choose, not on your life. I misjudged you, Little Number Two—you betrayed me and actually became a lobbyist for Uncle Long!”
Gua Two’s foul scheme was discovered before he even finished the play. Losing interest, he put the map back in his pocket and asked, “Are you really determined to go to a police school? All right, so medicine is out, but there are so many other majors and universities—is there really nothing else you like?”
“No,” Shi Jin was adamant. “Except for the police officer, my other dream is to be a big boss like Jun-shao, but they don’t teach that at university.”
With an expression ‘only an idiot would believe you’, Gua Two said, “Your dreams are really unique.”
“Thank you, it’s because you taught me well, senior,” Shi Jin replied with modesty.
Gua Two choked. Knowing that his persuasion plan was a bust, he let go of the teenager’s arm and pointed to the nearby campus supermarket. “This senior wants to eat a popsicle, go buy it, newbie. Newcomers should remember their responsibilities as the newest.”
Without a word, Shi Jin reached into Gua Two’s pocket, grabbed his wallet, and walked towards the supermarket without a backward glance.
Gua Two stared at his back, then let out an angry curse.
Five minutes later, Shi Jin bumped into Li Jiuzheng at the supermarket freezer and nearly died on the spot. Some days you were just unlucky—you couldn’t get what you wanted, and what you wanted to avoid more than anything would be waiting for you.
Xiao Si also almost short-circuited—earlier, it comforted its host that it was impossible for there to be so many coincidences in this world, but reality gave it a big slap.
Li Jiuzheng appeared very different than he had the last time they met. He wore a relaxed, sky-blue short-sleeved shirt and brown casual trousers, had a leather bag slung across his back, with a pair of black-framed glasses straddling the bridge of his nose. Since at the moment, he lacked the previous murderous aura, he looked for all the world like a harmless college student who wouldn’t hurt a fly.
But Shi Jin wouldn’t forget how dangerous he was. He silently cursed Gua Two, who’d forced him to come outside, and himself, for jinxing it.
“What-what a coincidence meeting you here,” he took the initiative to speak first, raising his hand in greeting. Inching his way into a retreat, he said, “Take your time to choose, I’ll go to check out,” then turned around to leave.
“Wait.” Li Jiuzheng suddenly stretched out his arm, blocking the aisle and preventing the teenager from escaping. “Why are you here? Second Brother said that you took the college entrance examination this year—do you plan to attend this university?”
Just how loose was Fei Yujing’s tongue?! Shouldn’t lawyers know how to keep their mouths shut? Shi Jin howled inside, wanting to grab Fei Yujing and shake him hard, but nothing showed on his face. Glancing at his progress bar, he found it didn’t rise, so he calmed down some. “No, I was just bored and happened to come here on a stroll. I really need to go, can you back off a little?” he asked, making a tentative attempt to move.
Li Jiuzheng watched him for a few seconds, then turned sideways.
Relieved, Shi Jin passed by without ceremony, never looking at him.
Once he’d finished checking out and left the supermarket, he threw the popsicle at Gua Two and strode in the direction of the clinic.
“What’s with your expression, did you see a ghost?” Gua Two asked, baffled.
“Not a ghost, but almost,” Shi Jin replied. “Li Jiuzheng is here, I just ran into him.”
Gua Two raised an eyebrow and glanced back towards the supermarket, just happening to catch sight of Li Jiuzheng walking out of the door and looking their way. “What are you afraid of?” he said, opening the popsicle’s packaging and taking a bite. “So what if you ran into him? It’s not as if he can do anything to you—if he tries, you’ll take out your gun and shoot him. It would be revenge for the last time, by the way.”
Shi Jin’s steps faltered. That’s right, the current situation was completely different from the last time he met Li Jiuzheng: not only was he not injured, he also had his gun with him. If Li Jiuzheng really tried to hurt him, it wouldn’t necessarily be Shi Jin who suffered.
What’s more, Li Jiuzheng indeed owed him some payback.
Shi Jin was a bit at a loss.
He stopped and turned his head to look at the entrance to the supermarket; seeing Li Jiuzheng still standing there, his hands itched. Flexing them to get rid of the feeling, he turned back and said, “No, forget it. Let’s go back, Jun-shao’s check-up should almost be over.”
“As if it would end that fast,” Gua Two muttered, but refrained from commenting further as he followed him back to the clinic.
Lian Jun’s examination didn’t end until evening. When he finally came out, he looked very bad—his face was nearly white, his forehead was covered with cold sweat, and there was a deep furrow between his brows.
Shocked, Shi Jin jumped to his feet and rushed to the wheelchair. Noticing that Lian Jun’s legs were shaking uncontrollably, his mind produced a bucketload of terrible scenarios on the spot, and his heart pounded with fright. Worried, he looked at Uncle Long. “What’s wrong, was there some problem with the examination?”
In contrast to his anxious expression, there was a trace of joy on Uncle Long’s face. “Nonsense, everything went well. Jun-shao’s health has been well maintained this year and the results are quite good. He still needs to improve the condition of his body a little before we can start treatment, so let’s keep it up and try to reach that point as soon as possible.”
Shi Jin was still uneasy. “But Jun-shao’s legs…”
“I’m fine,” Lian Jun comforted, reaching for his hand. “This is just because I did some stimulation therapy. It will get better soon. Come on, let’s go home, we should be back just in time for dinner.”
Uncle Long couldn’t help but frown. “It’s because of your useless bravado. I told you it’s best to do this in parts, but you… All right, all right, I won’t say anything more. Go back without me, I’ll stay here and wait for the detailed results, then draw up a preliminary treatment plan.”
Lian Jun withdrew his warning gaze. Squeezing Shi Jin’s hand, he shifted the topic. “I’m a little thirsty. Could you please pour me a glass of water?”
Shi Jin wasn’t stupid—Uncle Long’s unfinished words were enough for him to realize that in order to finish the examination as soon as possible, Lian Jun had asked to speed up the check-ups. His chest a little tight, he answered in a low voice and compliantly poured Lian Jun some water.
After a short rest, they said goodbye to Uncle Long and headed back to the club.
Lian Jun’s physical discomfort really eased off soon, his legs no longer shaking and his complexion much better. Shi Jin breathed a sigh of relief and gently touched his lover’s legs, still a little distressed.
It was like this just because of an examination—after the treatment began, how uncomfortable would Lian Jun be?
“I really am fine,” Lian Jun reassured him again, then motioned to the small refrigerator in the car. “It will take a while to get back to the club. Are you hungry? Eat something to tide you over until dinner.”
As if Shi Jin could eat. He shook his head and asked, “What did Uncle Long mean by saying you ‘still need to improve the condition of your body before we can start treatment’? Is your current physical condition too bad to allow treatment?”
“Well, just a little bit,” Lian Jun replied, nodding. “My situation is special—the toxin has been in my body for too long and treating it may reactivate it. My body needs to get better or it won’t be able to endure the whole way through.”
Shi Jin hadn’t expected that getting rid of the toxin would be so troublesome. “How much better should your body get? Five pounds, ten pounds, or more?”
Gua Two couldn’t stop himself from laughing out loud. “Are you raising a pig? What’s with your belief that being fat is being healthy?”
Shi Jin gave him a death glare—did he really just hear him compare Lian Jun to a pig?!
Amused, Lian Jun said, “Uncle Long has yet to make a specific treatment plan. Don’t be anxious, didn’t you say we shouldn’t rush this?”
“I’m not anxious,” Shi Jin refuted, but he also knew worrying about it now was useless, so he closed his mouth and didn’t continue the topic.
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