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Date (Second Part)
Under Lian Jun’s nervous gaze, Shi Jin opened the bag and took out… a white t-shirt.
“This is…?” The tension on Lian Jun’s face turned into confusion.
“I bought it for you last time when I went out with Gua Two, don’t you remember?” In a happy mood, Shi Jin shook the t-shirt so it unfolded and pointed to the hem. “See here? It’s a word ‘Jun’. I bought it specially for you.”
When Lian Jun looked at the place he indicated, he indeed saw a small, black, embroidered character, 君.
“The salesclerk said that this isn’t some generic font, but it was made from characters written by a famous calligraphy master, and only they were authorized to use it. The characters are also hand-embroidered using some traditional embroidery style that not many people can use nowadays… I didn’t really understand, but anyway, it’s rare. This t-shirt is from a limited series called ‘Guoxue’, that has 72 unique pieces. Only two were embroidered with the word ‘Jun’ and I bought them both,” Shi Jin explained, taking out another white t-shirt from the bag.
Lian Jun looked at the clothes, the slight wrinkle in his eyebrows smoothing out. He couldn’t resist teasing, “Didn’t you say you bought it specially for me? How come there are two now? You lied to me.”
“I didn’t,” Shi Jin denied, shaking his head. He raised the second t-shirt and held it against his chest as if to see how it looked, then continued, “I bought this one for myself. One for me, one for you, so we match—don’t you think these make pretty good couple outfits?”
Lian Jun froze again. “Couple outfits?” he repeated.
“Yes, couple outfits,” Shi Jin affirmed, putting the two pieces of clothing on his lap. He patted the back of the driver’s seat, signaling Gua Two to raise the partition wall, then reached for Lian Jun’s collar and said with a smile, “The day hasn’t ended yet, so let’s change clothes and continue our date!”
The car rushed forward at the speed limit, going all the way to the outskirts of B city.
The shirt wasn’t the only thing Shi Jin had prepared for Lian Jun, there were also trousers and shoes—of course, he prepared the same for himself as well. By the time the car slowed to a smooth halt in front of their destination, Lian Jun had already changed out of his robe and into the “couple outfit”, and even put on a pair of fake glasses. Shi Jin also changed into his new clothes and stuffed the old ones into the bag.
Although they were both wearing white t-shirts, the styles weren’t the same. Lian Jun’s was a slim fit, and its only decorations were dark threads running through the fabric here and there and elegant, ink-colored ‘Jun’ embroidered on the hem. Shi Jin’s t-shirt was loose and more flamboyant. Though it also had the word ‘Jun’, it was much larger and the character had been written with broad, bold strokes. It was embroidered with crimson thread in a conspicuous position on the left side of the chest; at first glance, it looked as if a flame was burning over Shi Jin’s heart, giving off a feeling of energy and vitality.
When the two t-shirts were seen alone, they didn’t look like a series, but when the people wearing them stood together, the sense of harmony became apparent all of a sudden, and it was clear to see that these two shirts were made by the same person.
Because of his appearance and temperament, Lian Jun usually gave out an aloof, even intimidating feeling. However, after changing into this more reserved style of clothing and putting on glasses to block the sharpness in his eyes, he immediately appeared gentle and refined. Moreover, because of his thin body, there also was a hint of asceticism.
All in all—very captivating.
“…Perfect. You don’t look like someone from the underworld at all.” Shi Jin slowly stepped back, his throat dry. For the first time, he realized one thing clearly—even if Lian Jun had nothing going for him except his face, he would’ve still fallen in love with him.
Who wouldn’t fall in love with someone so perfectly beautiful!
Lian Jun noticed that Shi Jin’s expression was stiff and that his words were a bit forced, and misunderstood. He glanced down at the tasteful white t-shirt he wore, touched his skinny wrist, and asked, unconfident, “Does it look very ugly?”
People who were too thin needed to take greater care with their clothes. He usually wore a robe, which could work on many body types and covered up most of his deficiencies, but now that he’d changed into normal clothes, all the shortcomings of his body were exposed.
He was just an ordinary person, who instinctively wanted to look good in the eyes of his lover.
At this question, Shi Jin snapped out of his daze and looked Lian Jun up and down again, then nodded. “Just a little bit.”
Lian Jun’s fingers trembled and the light in his eyes dimmed a little. Unconsciously pulling at the hem, he opened his mouth to say he’d change back when Shi Jin suddenly leaned over and removed the glasses on his nose.
“The glasses are so ugly. They don’t match you at all. Your eyes are so beautiful, it’s better not to block them.” Shi Jin put away the glasses and took Lian Jun’s face in both hands, giving it a careful look over, then gave him a quick peck on the lips. “Yes, this is perfect. You look so good even in an ordinary t-shirt—you are indeed worthy of being my boyfriend!”
Lian Jun was stunned at first, then amused by his exaggerated performance. Seeing that the appreciation in the younger man’s eyes really wasn’t fake, he snuck an arm around his waist to hug him. “I’m glad you like it.”
“Of course I like it!” Shi Jin kissed him again, then pulled back. “Okay, time is running out—let’s continue the date,” he said, grabbing the car’s door handle.
Lian Jun looked out of the car following his movement and found that there were no street lights outside. In the dim light, he could only vaguely distinguish a small forest not too far away. Frowning a little, he asked, “Where is this?”
“You’ll know later.” Shi Jin got out of the car first, then took out the wheelchair. He helped Lian Jun to get in it, sprayed him with mosquito repellent, said goodbye to Gua Two, then pushed the wheelchair straight into the woods, down the forest path toward the unknown.
Because the trees blocked most of the moonlight, the forest was darker than the outside. Lian Jun’s frown never relaxed. He turned on the flashlight Shi Jin had stuffed into his hands and carefully observed the surroundings. He wanted to remind Shi Jin to pay attention to safety, but his mouth had barely opened when he was interrupted.
“We’re almost there, try not to close your eyes,” Shi Jin said, repressed anticipation and excitement audible in his voice. All of a sudden, he sped up, pushing the wheelchair almost at a trot. Following a turn in the path, they rushed out of the woods and through a cartoon-like log door. They slowed to a stop in an open space that bore a slight resemblance to a town square, then Shi Jin pulled a whistle out from who-knows-where and blew it twice.
The whistle cut through the night and spread into the distance, producing a faint echo.
Lian Jun’s ears were sharp. He heard that as the sound of the whistle died out, there came a faint sound of running water not far ahead. The sound of the current grew louder and louder, and suddenly, several wrist-thick pillars of water burst out of the ground accompanied by colorful lights, banishing the darkness. They seemed to explode in the air, forming a brilliant, multicolored water curtain, then slowly fell back to the ground, flowing back to the place they originated from.
Ting ting ting.
Lights lit up the night, beginning with the wooden door behind them and quickly following around both sides of the small square until it was completely lit, accompanied by cheerful music. The two people who stood at the entrance of the square became this beautiful scene’s only audience.
Shi Jin put down the whistle. He looked at the seven or eight meters high water jets of the musical fountain in front of them, sighing in admiration, and couldn’t help but lean down and hold Lian Jun’s shoulder, saying with excitement, “How is it, is this nice? I specially made this our first stop. Do you like it?”
Lian Jun woke up from his surprise and looked sideways at Shi Jin. “This… Did you plan this?”
“Well, this is our first date—of course I did my best to make it as fun as possible,” the teenager replied with a nod. He saw a dark shadow approaching from the other side of the square and hurriedly straightened to wave at it, then bent down to support Lian Jun. “It’s still too hot outside, let’s get in the sightseeing car, it’s nice and cool.”
As Lian Jun stood up with his help, the shadow came close enough for him to see that it was a cartoon-styled electric patrol car, with the words ‘Staff Only’ printed on the side. He looked around, his gaze sweeping through the small square decorated with colorful lights and the dancing fountain, feeling as if he was in a dream. A moment later, he came back to himself and asked, “You contracted this place?”
“Yeah—this way, we can have fun with peace of mind,” Shi Jin said, not hiding it this time. When the car stopped, he immediately opened the door and helped Lian Jun inside. After putting away the wheelchair, he also got in, then patted the driver’s arm. “Okay, go. Follow the route we rehearsed.”
“Understood,” the driver replied, turning the steering wheel.
Lian Jun’s eyebrows climbed up his forehead. He looked at the driver wearing a funny hat and asked, “Gua Three?”
“Good evening, Jun-shao,” Gua Three turned his head a bit to greet him. “Forgive me for shifting my return to an earlier date without informing you, I will give you an explanation later.”
Lian Jun looked at Shi Jin again.
Shi Jin gave a low cough and said guiltily, “I just asked them for a bit of help…”
“So Gua One is back too?” Lian Jun inquired.
Gua Three and Shi Jin nodded together, watching him carefully, afraid that he would be angry.
“You guys…” Lian Jun eyed them. All of a sudden, he leaned back in his seat, saying, “Let’s go.”
“Huh?” For a moment, Gua Three didn’t react.
“Shi Jin needs to sleep at 11 p.m. and it’s 8 p.m. now, hurry up,” Lian Jun explained.
Upon hearing this, Gua Three realized that he was not going to pursue the matter of everyone deceiving him together. He hurriedly acknowledged the command and concentrated on driving the sightseeing car.
Shi Jin caught Lian Jun’s hand and flattered, “Jun-shao, you’re so good-looking, powerful, tolerant, and magnanimous. Come on, have some fruit.” Then he brought out a fruit tray that waited prepared in the car.
“Sweet talker.” Lian Jun gave him a light knock on the head, but the corners of his mouth rose.
As the sightseeing car drove forward, the roadside lights lit up. If someone looked down from above, they would find that the lights in the whole amusement park turned on in accordance with the journey of the car, with the places it hadn’t passed through yet remaining dark.
There were no other visitors in the park, but the atmosphere was warm—everywhere the car went, all the shops were open, stalls were set up, the costumed characters and parade floats shuttling back and forth, and occasionally, Annihilation members in charge of security wandered by. With people coming and going, it didn’t look deserted at all.
When passing by a dessert shop, Shi Jin asked Gua Three to stop for a moment. He got out of the car and bought two desserts from the shop owner who was dressed up as a cartoon character, then rushed back and handed one to Lian Jun. “Try it and see if you like it.”
Lian Jun accepted the not-quite-perfect-looking dessert, glancing at Shi Jin as a certain thought flashed through his mind. He picked up the spoon, put a bite in his mouth, chewed, swallowed, and nodded. “Yes, I like it.” It was a familiar taste.
“Then you should eat more!” Relieved, Shi Jin also dug into his dessert, taking out almost half with one spoon. He was very happy.
How could they not eat anything when on a date? But because Lian Jun needed to strictly avoid certain foods, he could only come up with this way—preparing something ahead of time and setting it up as a shop product, then pretending to buy it to set off the dating atmosphere.
Fortunately, Lian Jun didn’t dislike his craftsmanship, so his plan was a success.
Lian Jun saw all the changes in his expression out of the corner of his eye. He poked the strawberries on the dessert, then following Shi Jin’s example, dug out half of the dessert with his spoon and put it into his mouth.
Uh-huh, it was delicious.
If you’re seeing this notice, you’re reading this chapter on pirate site – the original translator of Death Progress Bar is Betwixted Translations.
There were many shops along the road. Shi Jin let the car stop from time to time, buying toys, souvenirs, food, drinks… He bought all kinds of things, and seeming to have completely forgotten Lian Jun needed to take care with his diet, he kept stuffing him with sweets and snacks.
Lian Jun, also apparently having forgotten his own physical condition, readily accepted and consumed all his offerings. Every now and then, he would also ask for the car to stop in order to buy something, paying with the payment app on his phone.
Besides the fact that they travelled in the sightseeing car, the two were like a normal couple who came to the amusement park for a night out, enjoying themselves while going around and visiting roadside stalls.
Finally, they arrived at the first amusement ride on the agenda—the carousel.
“Do you want to play? We don’t need to line up,” Shi Jin egged Lian Jun on with a salesman’s tone.
Lian Jun had never visited an amusement park, even less so ridden on such a childish carnival ride. When he was a child, he didn’t get a chance, and after he grew up, he neither had the time nor would his status allow it. He had thought that this was one of things he was destined to never experience in his life, but it turned out there was someone who was doing his best to help him make up for everything he had missed.
“You said you would listen to me all day today, so get on.” When Shi Jin didn’t get a reply, all of a sudden, his expression changed, clearly conveying that, ‘I know you don’t want to play, but I must force you to play’.
Lian Jun smiled, knowing Shi Jin was giving him a way out to “do something that didn’t fit his identity”. He replied, “Okay, then let’s play.”
“You can’t go back on your word!” Shi Jin brightened in an instant. He jumped out of the car to get the wheelchair out and helped Lian Jun into it, as if afraid his lover would run away.
Gua Three watched them approach the carousel, then adjusted his hat and took out the camera. This was probably the simplest task he had been assigned in the past decade or so. Taking pictures? He was an expert in that.
It didn’t take long for the carousel ride to finish. Shi Jin made Lian Jun sit for a full three rounds before he was satisfied—first on the single horse, then in the carriage, then on the twin horses with him. Lian Jun let himself be commanded, watching the lights around him changing as the horse moved and listening to Shi Jin chattering next to him, and the smile on his face continued to deepen.
As an adult, this childish amusement ride might not have been very interesting to him, but the intentions and heart of the people by his side were extraordinarily precious.
After the carousel finally stopped, the two returned to the car and continued to follow the park’s road.
The lamps in front of them slowly lit up, illuminating cute vendor stalls and small parade floats. It was as if they were leaving the ordinary world and stepping into the world of fairytales.
After another ‘buy buy buy, eat eat eat’ spree, they arrived at the second amusement park ride—the drop tower.
“This is more fitting for a man to ride, I guess,” Shi Jin said. He looked at Lian Jun and continued provocatively, “Do you dare to get on?”
Lian Jun propped his face on his hand, the corner of his mouth rising, and poked Shi Jin’s cheek. “I dare.”
“Then let’s go!” The teenager immediately opened the car door.
After securing himself in the seat, Lian Jun found there were suddenly two more people on this side of the drop platform—Gua One and Gua Two.
“I also want to make up for my childhood,” Gua Two explained, getting on.
Gua One greeted Lian Jun, apologizing for not informing him of his return, like Gua Three had earlier.
Lian Jun waved his hand to show it was fine. He looked at Shi Jin, who was obviously a little nervous, and raised his hand to hold the safety bar resting over his shoulders.
“Don’t be afraid.”
His words and the hiss of the machine starting to operate sounded at the same time. The air stirred as the platform rose and the view spread out before them grew wider and wider. Lian Jun squinted. When the platform paused at its summit, he looked down on the road he and Shi Jin had followed today, a flash of contentment passing through his eyes.
In the end, among the people who rode the drop tower, only Shi Jin couldn’t hold back a scream.
Gua Two mocked him mercilessly. Shi Jin gave him a death glare and pushed Lian Jun’s wheelchair back to the car, fuming.
The bumper cars, the Skydiver, the Disk’O, the haunted house, the tagada, the 4D fantasy ride, the roller coaster… The two played at all the popular amusement park attractions, went to the performance square to watch the night show, and finally, arrived at the last ride on the program, and the only one still not lit up—the Ferris wheel.
“The Ferris wheel is right in the middle of the park. From the top, you can have a clear night view of the whole park.” Shi Jin got out of the car and pushed Lian Jun to the entrance of the ride, then glanced at the time. “It’s 10:40 now, and it takes 20 minutes for the Ferris wheel to make a turn—it will be exactly eleven o’clock when we get off. I also booked a holiday cabin here in the park for tonight so we don’t have to waste time to get back to the club. We’ll rest here today, okay?”
Because of his buoyant mood, Lian Jun’s complexion looked much rosier and healthier than usual. He looked up at the still dark Ferris wheel and nodded. “Okay. I’m supposed to listen to you the whole day today.”
“I knew you would say that.” Shi Jin happily pushed the wheelchair towards the boarding platform.
Halfway, Lian Jun heard the sound of footsteps behind them. When he looked back, he saw that Gua One and the others, who had accompanied them on several more exciting rides like the drop tower and the roller coaster, were all following them.
Gua Two walked at the forefront. “How does it feel to be a chauffeur?” he asked Gua Three as if to exchange the experiences with a fellow sufferer, his tone a bit mocking.
Gua Three glanced at him, then took off his funny hat and played with it, ignoring him.
Gua One walked behind them. Apparently unwilling to deal with the two foolish chauffeurs, he talked on the phone with the amusement park manager about the arrangements for the holiday cabin.
Gua Five followed behind Gua One, taking photos of everyone with dedication, like a professional photographer.
Gua Nine trailed at the very end. He had earphones plugged into his ears and was absorbed in playing on the customized handheld game console belonging to the park.
Everyone was very relaxed, just like ordinary people visiting the amusement park to play.
Lian Jun withdrew his gaze and turned back. His fingers brushing the embroidered ‘Jun’, he whispered, “Thank you, Shi Jin.” Thank you for giving we who walk in the darkness a chance to touch the beauty belonging to the world of daylight.
The smile on Shi Jin’s face deepened, but he continued to hum happily as if he had not heard this thank-you.
After everyone picked a cabin to sit in, the Ferris wheel moved, slowly taking them up. As the cabins rose, the night view of the park spread out bit by bit in front of the passengers, and the lights on the ferris wheel lit up in sequence.
“Look, it’s the musical fountain square.” Shi Jin suddenly pointed to where they were when they first arrived at the amusement park.
Lian Jun turned his head to look and heard a bang—not far from the fountain square, the fireworks rose, painting the night sky with gorgeous bursts of colors.
“Thankfully, fireworks aren’t forbidden in this park,” Shi Jin said, holding onto the windowsill of the cabin. He looked at Lian Jun. “How do you like it, is it pretty?”
Lian Jun smiled, his pupils seeming to shine with a light more brilliant than the fireworks outside. He leaned over to hold the younger man’s face and kissed his eyelids, whispering, “Yes, it’s pretty.” Among all the scenes and sights I saw, your smile is the most beautiful.
Clank. The cockpit rose to the top, stopped for a short time, and then slowly descended.
Gua Two put down the camera with regret. “A pity I can’t take a good picture unless I sit together with them,” he sighed.
“Okay, it’s time to get back to work. Remember to check the security arrangements around the holiday cabin,” Gua One said, putting down the phone.
Gua Two looked at him with disgust and slumped in his seat. “The first time I rode the Ferris wheel was actually with you. I feel I’ve been scarred for life.”
Face suddenly black, Gua One raised a leg to kick him.
The date ended perfectly. Shi Jin went to sleep with a smile, but the reality he woke up to was cruel.
< JinJin… Your progress bar went up again early in the morning. It’s 850 now, > Xiao Si uttered, its voice full of concern.
Shi Jin grabbed at his hair, messy from sleep, and collapsed back on the bed, groaning. He didn’t even need to think about it—the rise of the progress bar must be related to Xu Jie. Did Shi Weichong quarrel with his mother again?
There was the sound of water coming from the bathroom. It should be Lian Jun washing.
Shi Jin lowered his hands. He turned his head to look at the bathroom door, let out a deep sigh, and dragged the quilt up to cover his face. “Rise, rise, you damn thing, go up as high as possible.” Let me discover who the lethal factor is.
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