Death Progress Bar Chapter 31

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UNEDITED

As they say, “Sickness comes suddenly like a landslide, but goes slowly like spinning silk.”

s.h.i.+ Jin's fever was fierce and persistent like a forest fire. It didn't abate for a long time. Even though every time Uncle Long gave him antipyretic medicine it would come down, a few hours later it would rise once more. This happened over and over again; nothing worked.

Feeling worried, Lian Jun let Uncle Long give s.h.i.+ Jin a detailed medical examination, but it didn't find anything wrong—the teenager was as fit as a fiddle. Except for the high fever, he was perfectly healthy.

In the end, Uncle Long stuck to treating s.h.i.+ Jin's fever the traditional way, afraid that giving him too many injections would make him a fool.

After being unconscious and eating nothing but medicine for several days, s.h.i.+ Jin looked thin and pallid and had no appet.i.te. He felt dizzy barely walking a few steps, his speech was also affected. He seemed more a chronically ill patient than Lian Jun.

Xiao Si felt so guilty it wished to die. As it watched s.h.i.+ Jin, it blamed itself more and more for its thoughtlessness—it should've screened out the data for the buyers' list first instead of sending him all the information at once.

Conversely, s.h.i.+ Jin never blamed it. He comforted it instead, saying it was a blessing in disguise because he got a vacation out of it.

After resting in bed for a few days, when s.h.i.+ Jin woke up this morning, he finally felt his headache and dizziness decreased significantly. Estimating the sequelae of receiving information were about to end, he jumped out of the bed and went to wash. Then he wrapped himself in several layers of thick clothes and headed to Lian Jun's study on still wobbly legs.

Actually, Lian Jun came to visit him every day during his sickness, but because he was usually asleep, he rarely saw him. Every time he woke up, he was confused. He knew Lian Jun was here only after Xiao Si told him.

Now that s.h.i.+ Jin almost recovered, he planned to b.u.t.ter Lian Jun up and see if he was still angry. Accidentally, he wanted to ask for leave in order to meet with s.h.i.+ Weichong and talk with him about Xu Chuan, as this needed to be done face-to-face.

When he arrived at the study, Lian Jun was talking with Gua One and the others. The atmosphere in the room was somewhat heavy—it seemed that the topic of conversation was not pleasant.

Seeing this, s.h.i.+ Jin tactfully decided not to interrupt them. After greeting Gua Two who opened the door, he was about to return to his room and come back later.

However, Lian Jun, who noticed him already, gestured for Gua One to pause for a moment and called out, “s.h.i.+ Jin?”

s.h.i.+ Jin stopped, then, having been found out, turned back to stand in the door. He smiled at Lian Jun and said, “I just came to take a look. You're busy, so I'll come again later.”

“No need, you can come in.” Lian Jun signaled Gua Two to let s.h.i.+ Jin inside and pointed to the sofa. “Sit down and listen.”

s.h.i.+ Jin thereupon parked his backside on the sofa and became an obedient listener.

Lian Jun asked Gua Two to give the teenager something to drink. He also took this opportunity to hand his blanket over to him, then continued to talk with Gua One.

Those actions didn't escape the attention of the other people in the room, but they simply exchanged tacit glances and pretended not to see anything.

What they were talking about was Chen Qing's matter. After investigating, Gua One pretty much determined the whereabouts of his family and could save them at a moment's notice. Things, however, weren't so simple—while rescuing the children was easy, rescuing Chen Qing himself wasn't.

Chen Qing's children were imprisoned in a secluded place, with few people guarding them, but the enemy controlled Chen Qing and made use of him, so he was being held in the enemy base. Saving him required going deep into the hostile territory, which was rather dangerous.

The hidden foe responsible for the whole situation had also been identified: it was a declining legal criminal organization, Black Rose. It used to be powerful, standing on the same level as Annihilation, and had a backer in the government, but a few years ago, this backer lost his position. After that, because it was engaging in dirty business even after being listed as legal, the officials kept suppressing it, putting more and more restrictions on it. This limited its development and made it decline bit by bit.

But Black Rose wouldn't give up just like that. Its members had such a wonderful mentality they didn't think to clean up their act and quietly restore their lost strength but blamed Lian Jun instead. They were convinced Lian Jun colluded with the authorities, got rid of their backer, and destroyed their business, that's why they always tried to get their revenge on him.

Black Rose targeted Lian Jun since that time, but so far they failed every time, and Lian Jun always looked for the opportunity to get back at them. This attempt was the one that came the closest to success out of those Black Rose aimed at Lian Jun in recent years.

“First, arrange the manpower and prepare to rescue the children. Continue to think about Chen Qing's side, we will discuss it at length later.” Lian Jun concluded the meeting with this sentence, gesturing for others to scatter. Then he moved his wheelchair to s.h.i.+ Jin's side and reached to touch his forehead.

s.h.i.+ Jin also pondered how to save Chen Qing, and his body unconsciously slumped to the side. He didn't even notice everyone leaving. Only after he felt the touch on his forehead he emerged from his thoughts and lifted his head.

Lian Jun smoothly took back his hand. Watching s.h.i.+ Jin's pale face, he asked, “How are you feeling today?”

“Not bad. I don't have a fever anymore and I stopped feeling dizzy,” the teenager replied, sitting up. He gathered the blanket and returned it to Lian Jun, covering his legs again, then continued, “Were you eating well these past days?”

Lian Jun glanced at the blanket. His voice sounded a little lower, but he didn't answer the question. “You came here to ask this?”

“Not just this… It's almost lunchtime, isn't it? I'll wait for you, let's eat together.” s.h.i.+ Jin felt Lian Jun's tone was exceptionally mild today, but he didn't think about it too much, a.s.suming the man was showing consideration for the recovering patient. Instead, he inquired about another thing: “Is there a problem with Chen Qing's rescue?”

“It's not a big problem.” Lian Jun touched his forehead again, taking it back only after he was sure the fever really abated. He turned his wheelchair away, saying, “Go to the dining room, it's time to eat.”

s.h.i.+ Jin was feeling a little stunned by Lian Jun's “two touches.” His expression turning silly, he got up and instinctively grabbed the wheelchair handles to help move it. He asked Xiao Si happily, “If Lian Jun is concerned about me this much, it means he's not mad anymore, right? And he decided to forget that thing my brothers said?”

Xiao Si did not speak, only letting out a vague hum.

s.h.i.+ Jin, however, felt it agreed with him, and became more and more pleased with himself. Unable to keep silent, he began to narrate to Lian Jun all kinds of evil deeds Uncle Long committed when he was sick, appearing much more energetic.

The dishes served at lunch were colorful and slightly more flavored than usual. s.h.i.+ Jin enjoyed them very much—lately, all he had eaten were bland hospital meals given to him by Uncle Shu, and it was impossible to like them. Now he finally was able to eat something else to wash down the bitter taste of pills still lingering on his tongue.

s.h.i.+ Jin put the last piece of fried c.u.min lamb in his mouth, then patted his stomach with satisfaction, exclaiming, “Ah, it's still delicious. I haven't eaten lamb for a long time. That's right, Jun-shao, before I went on the mission, didn't you promise to give me a roasted whole lamb when I came back? The whole lamb? You won't go back on your word, will you?”

Lian Jun, who was taking a sip of water, paused and looked up at him. Seeing the youthful face filled with self-righteousness and hidden accusation, he slowly set his cup on the table and said, “I did not promise you a lamb.”

Noticing the tone was somewhat wrong, s.h.i.+ Jin's freshly found confidence deserted him again. He sat up straight, deciding to behave himself, and awkwardly changed the topic. “Jun-shao, what are you going to do about Chen Qing? Are we really going to break into the enemy's base to rescue him?”

“…No.” Lian Jun stopped giving him the stink eye. He picked up a napkin and wiped his mouth. “The new leader of Black Rose has an aggressive personality and hates being suppressed in any way; if we attack his base directly, it's likely to end as a fight to the death. Right now, there are two ways to save Chen Qing: one is to make Black Rose let him come out again, the other is to negotiate directly. Which way do you think is more suitable?”

s.h.i.+ Jin frowned and replied without hesitation, “It's better to incite Black Rose to use him once more. As things stand now, if you try to negotiate with them, they will probably make some impossible demands. Even if we fulfilled them, it's likely they would screw us over—get the benefits, but not release the person.”

Lian Jun nodded, agreeing with his words. Moving his wheelchair, he said, “Go to rest. Gua One will take care of Chen Qing's matter, you should take care to get well soon.”

Seeing him leaving, s.h.i.+ Jin hurried to help him push the wheelchair like a good minion, in order to soften him: “Um, Jun-shao, I'm pretty much recovered already, so can I go out for a bit?”

Lian Jun's eyebrows knitted. “Where do you want to go?”

“To visit my eldest brother,” replied s.h.i.+ Jin, adding, “I need to talk with him… About family matters, it's sort of important.”

Lian Jun stopped the wheelchair and turned it to the side to look at the younger man.

s.h.i.+ Jin crouched down and pulled Lian Jun's hand to put it on his forehead, a.s.suring him, “I really don't have a fever and my head doesn't hurt anymore, so allow me to go, please? I promise to return as fast as I can.”

Lian Jun's arm was stiff, but he didn't withdraw his hand, following s.h.i.+ Jin's movements instead and touching his forehead carefully. He originally wanted to refuse, but the hopeful puppy eyes staring at himself eagerly made him change his mind. He compromised, “Fine, but Gua Two will take you there and you must come back before dinner.”

“Jun-shao, you're awesome!” s.h.i.+ Jin flattered, hugging the man impulsively. He realized what he had done a second later when Lian Jun's body stiffened. He gulped and backed off, letting out an embarra.s.sed laugh. Not daring to look at the other party, he said “I'll find Gua Two” toward the floor, then ran away without turning back.

Gua Two was forced to put aside what he was doing and become s.h.i.+ Jin's driver.

“You are really…” Gua Two started the car, sending s.h.i.+ Jin several glances. “Did you pour some magic potion into Jun-shao's soup?” He whispered.

s.h.i.+ Jin was putting on a seat belt and didn't catch his words. Not raising his head, he asked, “What did you say?”

“Never mind.” Gua Two looked at his face, appearing more silly after the illness, sighed, and shook his head. “Perhaps fortune really favors fools.”

s.h.i.+ Jin glowered at him. “You are a fool! You call me names for no reason whatsoever, I didn't do anything!”

Gua Two: “…” Suddenly, my heart feels tired.

It was a weekday afternoon, so it was practically certain s.h.i.+ Weichong won't be home. s.h.i.+ Jin called him first, confirming he was at work, then asked Gua Two to drive him to the company and phoned his brother again.

A few minutes later, s.h.i.+ Weichong rushed out of the building. Noticing s.h.i.+ Jin and Gua Two waiting in front of the entrance, he ushered the teenager a few steps inside the lobby. He peered into his face and said, frowning, “Why did you suddenly come here? And why did you wait outside instead of coming in? Looking at you, you seem ill.”

“I had a fever a few days ago, but I'm fine now,” s.h.i.+ Jin answered with a smile, scrutinizing s.h.i.+ Weichong's expression. Instead of being angry his younger brother came here unasked, he seemed worried about him. s.h.i.+ Jin breathed a little easier—judging from the man's current behavior, his care and concern were real, not pretended.

“What's with that foolish smile? Your face is red from cold.” s.h.i.+ Weichong nearly lost his temper. He greeted Gua Two with a nod, then led them towards an elevator, asking, “Have you had lunch yet? How long have you been ill?”

“I ate not too long ago. What about you?” s.h.i.+ Jin asked in return.

s.h.i.+ Weichong did not answer. After they walked into the elevator, he suddenly raised a hand and touched s.h.i.+ Jin's forehead.

s.h.i.+ Jin was already used to Lian Jun doing that, so his surprise lasted only a moment. Noticing s.h.i.+ Weichong's eyebrows were so knitted they practically touched each other, his heart warmed a little. “Is my forehead so great?” He asked, laughing.

“The heck it is. You're sick, but you still run around, you don't know how to take care of yourself at all.” s.h.i.+ Weichong retracted his hand, scolding him. “If you wanted to see me, you simply had to call me and I would come to meet you. You didn't need to make this trip.”

s.h.i.+ Jin said, smiling, “I'm free anyway.”

s.h.i.+ Weichong's expression was still full of disapproval. After the elevator stopped, he took s.h.i.+ Jin and Gua Two all the way through the floor to his office and asked his a.s.sistant to bring the hot drinks for them.

Gua Two knew s.h.i.+ Jin had the “family matters” to discuss with his brother, so not long after he claimed he needed to stretch his legs, tactfully leaving the two people alone.

After he went out, s.h.i.+ Weichong sat opposite s.h.i.+ Jin and asked, “Xiao Jin, why did you come here today? Did something happen?”

s.h.i.+ Jin did not plan to beat around the bush. “Big Brother, do you me going on a mission with Fourth Brother? After I returned, I examined the information we acquired and discovered something.”

“What was it?” s.h.i.+ Weichong inquired, not forgetting to put an a.s.sortment of snacks on the table.

s.h.i.+ Jin watched his movements and countenance. He took a moment to organize his words, then, briefly described Werewolf and the task content. “The mission target, Pockmarked Yuan, mentioned something once. He said a few months ago, Werewolf received a list of the kidnapping targets, but it was leaked out. I happened to stumble across this list, and one of the targets on it seems to be me.”

s.h.i.+ Weichong's action of preparing the snacks stopped, and his expression turned unsightly. “Are you sure?”

“It's just a speculation, but I looked through the customer list and found a familiar name on it—Xu Chuan,” s.h.i.+ Jin answered, observing his brother's face carefully.

s.h.i.+ Weichong was clearly stunned. After a moment of shock, something seemed to come to his mind and his expression darkened. He pulled out his phone and entered a number, but before dialing it he changed his mind and called Xiang Aoting instead.

Xiang Aoting answered the phone quickly. He asked a little puzzled, {Did something happen, Big Brother?}

s.h.i.+ Weichong repeated what s.h.i.+ Jin told him, then requested Xiang Aoting to find a way to determine whether s.h.i.+ Jin's name was on the list mentioned by Pockmarked Yuan.

The voice on the other end of the line turned solemn. {I'll get to it right away.} Then he hung the phone.

As s.h.i.+ Jin listened to their conversation, his worry finally disappeared—as expected, s.h.i.+ Weichong knew nothing about the kidnapping, the mastermind was someone else. He didn't read this brother of his wrong.

After ending the call, s.h.i.+ Weichong looked at s.h.i.+ Jin and the first thing he did was to comfort him: “Xiao Jin, don't be afraid, your big brother will definitely help you get to the bottom of this matter. No one will be able to lay a finger on you.”

s.h.i.+ Jin nodded, beaming at him. “I'm not afraid. Besides, you are going to help me, Big Brother.”

At his smile, the older man's expression eased a little. He couldn't help but reach out and stroke the teenager's head.

Two days later, s.h.i.+ Jin recovered from his illness completely. There was also news from his brothers—Pockmarked Yuan confessed, Xu Chuan did seek out Werewolf to arrange s.h.i.+ Jin's kidnapping. With this confirmed, the authorities sent people to arrest and interrogate the lawyer.

s.h.i.+ Jin didn't expect things would go so smoothly. He never thought s.h.i.+ Weichong and Xiang Aoting would act this efficiently, directly questioning Pockmarked Yuan, then letting the officials take care of the rest.

“So this is the feeling of being protected by my brothers…” s.h.i.+ Jin whispered to himself, pinching himself a few times to confirm he wasn't dreaming.

Xiao Si felt as if this was a dream too.

The person and the system were in perfect harmony, feeling a kind of smugness mixed with a sense of unreality, but they forgot one thing: the mission to capture Pockmarked Yuan was carried out in cooperation with Annihilation, and the news from the official side was going to be fed back to it.

Lian Jun hung up the phone and calmly called for Gua Two, ordering him to bring s.h.i.+ Jin.

It was a long time since Gua Two had seen Lian Jun's face look this unsightly. Feeling some misgivings, he went to s.h.i.+ Jin's room to get him. As they walked to the study, he asked quietly, “Did you make Jun-shao angry? He looked a little off.”

Surprised, s.h.i.+ Jin examined his actions. Recalling the insolent hug he gave Lian Jun two days ago, he said, trying to hide his guilty conscience, “No, Jun-shao acted as usual at meals, he didn't seem to be angry.” On the contrary, his att.i.tude was more gentle than before, and he even chatted with him casually, as the friends would.

Gua Two saw through him at once. He threw an arm around his shoulder and threatened, “Fess up or this brother won't help you. I haven't seen Jun-shao look so ugly for a long time. The last time he did, it was when Gua One found out Gua Four was a traitor.”

Hearing this, s.h.i.+ Jin panicked a little. He hesitated for a moment, finally telling the truth: “It's not a big deal, just, before I went out two days ago, I kinda hugged Jun-shao… It was on the spur of the moment, and I let him go right away, I swear!”

Gua Two gaped at him. He slowly removed his arm from around s.h.i.+ Jin's neck, took two big steps back, and kept this distance.

“Little Number Two, you have to help me!” s.h.i.+ Jin rushed to him and clung to his side.

Gua Two ruthlessly tore him off with an expression as if he cannot bear to look at him. “You dare to ask me for help… Little JinJin, I can see right through you—you're an audacious, thick-skinned scoundrel.”

s.h.i.+ Jin's heart sank. He asked miserably, “Is there really no hope?”

“Nope.” Gua Two shook his head, which put the bitter expression on the teenager's face. He then recalled the strange att.i.tude Lian Jun had toward s.h.i.+ Jin recently and added, “But, you know, Jun-shao has a soft heart. If you honestly admit your mistake and apologize nicely, maybe he will be lenient when dealing with you.”

s.h.i.+ Jin's heart sank even deeper.

When they came to the study, Lian Jun wasn't behind the desk reading the doc.u.ments as usual but sat on the sofa facing the door instead. His hands were empty, but there was a stack of papers on his knees. Clearly, he was waiting for s.h.i.+ Jin's arrival.

s.h.i.+ Jin almost made an about-turn and ran away, because Lian Jun's countenance really looked as bad as Gua Two described it. His face was expressionless and there was no warmth in his gaze as if he had returned to the day they first met—empty-eyed and devoid of life.

“s.h.i.+ Jin stays, Gua Two, guard outside the room,” Lian Jun commanded. Even his voice was icy.

Gua Two sent s.h.i.+ Jin a ‘you're on your own, buddy, good luck' look, the turned around and left the room.

Bracing himself, s.h.i.+ Jin took a few heavy steps and arrived before Lian Jun. He pulled up the corners of his mouth with some effort to smile at him and asked, “Why were you looking for me, Jun-shao?”

“Sit down,” ordered Lian Jun.

s.h.i.+ Jin promptly sat opposite him. He pondered for a moment and decided to apologize first: “Jun-shao, I'm sorry, I was wrong.”

The other man's expression was still ugly. “Wrong how?”

“I shouldn't have acted impolitely toward you…” The teenager hung his head.

Lian Jun's expression became even more ugly. He straightened and angrily threw the doc.u.ments in front of s.h.i.+ Jin. Fighting to restrain his temper, he forced out, “This is what the authorities have just pa.s.sed on to me. Read it, and then tell me what exactly you did wrong.”

Official doc.u.ments?

Only then s.h.i.+ Jin realized the hug wasn't what Lian Jun was angry about. Dazed, he picked up the files and started to look through them, then his eyes widened in shock—it was Pockmarked Yuan's confession incriminating Xu Chuan and the completely decoded list of Werewolf's clients!

“Explain.” Lian Jun noticed the change in his expression and knew he was familiar with the content of the doc.u.ments. Trying to suppress the feeling of disappointment because of not being trusted, he continued, “I remember the day you came back after completing the mission, I asked you to tell me about it. Why didn't you mention you were on that list? Why did you sneak out to meet s.h.i.+ Weichong and Xiang Aoting while you were still sick and asked them to investigate instead? If the officials hadn't sent me this information, just how long you were going to hide this from me?”

Chapter 32 >>

The first part of this chapter:
Me: “Aaaaaaaargh!” (⁄ ⁄>⁄ ▽ ⁄<⁄>

The last part:
Me: “Aaaaaaaargh!” \(º □ º l l)/

Death Progress Bar Chapter 31

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Death Progress Bar Chapter 31 summary

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