Chapter 23: Training
Edited by Bet from Betwixted Translations
Shi Jin probed further: “Is there a subjective reason?”
“Yes.” It took a moment for Lian Jun to answer. He looked up at Shi Jin and said, “You are too noisy. I want to have some peace and quiet for a few days.”
Shi Jin: “…” Shi Jin, oh, Shi Jin, do you like to have your face slapped? You should’ve just listened in silence.
“Do you want to accept this assignment?” Lian Jun asked.
“…Yes,” forced out Shi Jin through clenched teeth, feeling very wronged.
“Then go back and rest.” Lian Jun gestured for him to leave, indifferent to Shi Jin’s aggrieved expression. “The government will send someone here to give you a short training before the mission starts, so stop running around, rest, and try to heal quickly.”
Shi Jin left the restaurant trying to stop himself from coughing out blood, looking a forlorn figure.
“Your Darling is awful! And after I tried so hard to coax him to eat more!” Shi Jin complained bitterly in his mind.
Xiao Si hesitated, then attempted to mend his shattered heart: <Actually, Darling really doesn’t want you to leave. Didn’t you notice that today’s dinner was mostly your favorite dishes?>
“So what, pigs are also fattened up for slaughter.” Shi Jin wasn’t in the mood to appreciate any kindness from Lian Jun.
Xiao Si: <…>
After that day, Shi Jin began his life of training with Gua One and others while recovering from his injuries. Although he wanted to continue investigating the suspects, the unexpected task forced him to temporarily put this plan aside and concentrate on training.
Shi Weichong came to visit Shi Jin again during this time. Shi Jin had been worried that he wouldn’t get a chance to ease their relationship. So immediately after receiving the news he seized the opportunity and went outside to meet with him, putting on a sullen face even though his heart was jumping for joy.
The two brothers had a brief conversation by the car.
“Why did you fight with Zhouzhong?” Shi Weichong asked.
“I’ve wanted to hit him for a long time,” replied Shi Jin.
“Where are you hurt?”
Shi Weichong frowned and looked at his bruised face. “Do you still want to fight? I can fight with you if you do,” he said after a moment of silence.
Shi Jin: “…” Bro, you aren’t following the script again.
“I’m not gonna fight with you,” replied Shi Jin sulkily and twisted his head away, playing the rebellious teenager to a tee. He peeked at Shi Weichong and his face eased up a little. “Do you still hate me, Big Brother?”
Seeing him soften, Shi Weichong sighed and hesitantly touched his fuzzy head. When Shi Jin didn’t avoid his hand, his expression became gentler. “I’m trying to see you without prejudice… Xiao Jin, no matter what, you will always be my younger brother.”
Xiao Si exclaimed in pleasant surprise: <It’s down, the progress bar is down to 870!>
Shi Jin’s tense heart loosened up in an instant. He flashed a smile without meaning to—his guess was right. Shi Weichong was a survival factor, and a good relationship with him could improve Shi Jin’s chances!
Shi Weichong caught his smile and became more and more uncomfortable. “Xiao Jin, I know I’d misunderstood you all along…”
“Thank you!” Shi Jin suddenly reached out and gave him a bear hug, patting him on the back a few times. He said happily, “It’s great you don’t hate me, Big Brother, thank you!”
Shi Weichong froze in shock. In fact, it had been a long time since anyone hugged him like this; whether it was his father, mother, or brothers, their relationship was always somewhat distant, and he also kept his friends and acquaintances at arm’s length. Affectionate gestures were something that didn’t happen in his life.
His body instinctively tensed. The hug wasn’t all that tight because of his thick winter clothes, but he could feel the strength in Shi Jin’s arms and the weight of his head resting on his shoulder.
Shi Weichong looked at the head close to his cheek, and a belated thought appeared in his mind—the person in front of him was still only a child, his youngest brother, who had just grown up.
“…It’s not something you need to thank me for,” he said, tentatively raising his hands wanting to respond to this unexpected embrace, but as soon as he moved, Shi Jin pulled away.
“I still have to finish training, Big Brother, so I’m going back.” Shi Jin let go after a few seconds, because he was worried he would overdo it and arouse Shi Weichong’s suspicion. He didn’t forget to try and make their relationship more friendly though: “Next time call me directly if you want to meet. Don’t wait outside the clubhouse anymore, it’s winter and it’s cold.” After that, he waved Shi Weichong goodbye and trotted away, afraid he would reveal some flaws if they spoke longer.
Shi Weichong watched him enter the club, slowly letting his raised arms drop. He stood in place for a while, then let out a chuckle and turned to get in the car.
Back in the club, Shi Jin white listed Shi Weichong’s number and texted him a smiley face. About ten minutes later, Shi Weichong returned the text message, and Shi Jin’s progress bar dropped again, to 850.
“We had a good harvest today, a whole 30 points,” Shi Jin said with satisfaction. After pondering for a minute, he sent another text message to Rong Zhouzhong: [Are your injuries fine? Big Brother came to see me and I told him how you looked after the fight.]
Rong Zhouzhong’s answer came back almost immediately and consisted of one short word: [Scram!]
Shi Jin looked at the screen, grinning. He suddenly thought that Rong Zhouzhong, widely known as the savage “Demon King of the Showbiz World,” was actually very cute.
Two days later, just as the last bruise on Shi Jin’s face faded away, there was finally a message from the officials—they settled on the trainer, and that person would arrive later this afternoon.
It puzzled Shi Jin. “Wasn’t this mission supposed to be important? Why did it take them so long to send someone, was there a serious problem on their side?”
Gua One shook his head and answered, “Not a problem per se, just infighting. The higher-ups couldn’t agree on the candidate and they kept wrangling, that’s why it dragged on until now.” His expression was disapproving.
“It’s just training some rookie, what’s there to fight about?” Shi Jin was even more confused.
Gua One intended to mentor him, so he continued to explain: “Of course they don’t care about the training itself, what they want is to be allowed into ‘Nightlight.’ This place is the private residence of Jun-shao, do you think someone who works for the government can come in as he pleases? The permission to enter ‘Nightlight’ is not easy to get.”
His words enlightened Shi Jin. He shook his head while clicking his tongue, automatically imagining the official trainer as a fat, middle-aged bureaucrat with shifty eyes and ulterior motives, and decided not to ask more questions.
Halfway through the afternoon fighting class, there was a sudden knock on the door.
Gua One stopped his sparring with Shi Jin and shouted to come in.
The door opened slightly and Gua Two peered inside. He glanced at Gua One first, then his gaze moved to Shi Jin. His expression was full of meaning. “The man sent by the government is here,” he said.
Shi Jin looked at him doubtfully. “Gua Two, what’s with your expression? Are you having face spasms now?”
Gua Two rolled his eyes with irritation and sent him a contemptuous look, not bothering winking anymore. He pushed the door open completely and gave way to the man in a black training suit standing behind him.
Due to the angle of view, when Gua Two stepped aside, what Shi Jin saw first was a pair of long legs in black boots and sweatpants of the same color. Because of his preconceptions, he was a little surprised and surreptitiously said to Xiao Si that the officials were more trustworthy than he thought and didn’t really send an unreliable fatso. As a result, when the man stepped forward and revealed his face, Shi Jin was stunned.
“Four, Fourth Brother?!” Shi Jin stammered out, not daring to believe his eyes.
Xiang Aoting paused his steps and frowned, his eyes zeroing in on Shi Jin. When he noticed his protective training gear, his face sank. “Why are you here?”
Being asked this question, Shi Jin was slightly baffled. “That is my line. Aren’t you a pilot? How did you become a trainer? As for why I’m here—don’t play dumb, I told you earlier that I live here.”
“Of course I know you live here, that’s why I applied for this assignment. What I’m asking is, why are you in this training room!” Xiang Aoting replied. He seemed to realize something and looked at Gua Two, who led him here. “Why is Xiao Jin here? You said you’re taking me to the man taking part in the mission.”
Gua Two pointed at Shi Jin and said, “It’s him. He’s the person you need to train.”
Xiang Aoting’s face distorted and the expression in his eyes changed. He said stiffly, “I want to see Lian Jun.”
The moment he saw Xiang Aoting appear, Gua Two knew things would go wrong, so he wasn’t surprised to hear that. He raised his hand to greet Gua One, then turned and signaled for Xiang Aoting to follow him.
Shi Jin also realized something wasn’t right. He hurriedly took off the protective gear and jumped down from the training platform, then trotted to catch up with them. “I’ll go with you,” he said.
Gua Two nodded, not minding. Xiang Aoting noticed Shi Jin was quite proficient in removing the protective gear, and his expression turned even more ugly.
As the three men walked to Lian Jun’s study, Shi Jin secretly talked with Xiao Si. He suddenly recalled Rong Zhouzhong’s [You’re dead!] text message, and a certain thought flashed in his mind. In an instant, he grabbed his phone and typed, [Third Brother, did you know Fourth Brother was coming to ‘Nightlight’?]
Rong Zhouzhong answered quickly, and his reply was once again terse: [You’re dead, you little bastard!]
This childish asshole really knew!
Shi Jin put away his phone and glanced at Xiang Aoting walking in front of him and wrinkled his eyebrows. He took a few quick steps to catch up with him and started, “Fourth Brother, this time…”
“We’ll talk about it later,” interrupted Xiang Aoting without turning his head. He saw the door to Lian Jun’s study and hurried his pace. Without knocking, he opened it and entered, ignoring Gua Nine who stood up in alarm. He noticed Lian Jun sitting behind the desk and walked towards him. Xiang Aoting slammed his hands onto the desktop and leaned forward, glaring at Lian Jun. “Lian Jun, why is my brother going to participate in this mission?” He asked, not concealing his hostility.
“Fourth Brother.” Shi Jin saw Xiang Aoting actions as soon as he came in, and his heart skipped a beat. Afraid his brother would attack Lian Jun, he rushed to the desk and stood beside Lian Jun, shielding him.
Xiang Aoting’s expression became even more severe, and he looked at Lian Jun as if he was an amoral scoundrel who bewitched and deceived an innocent teenager to use him.
Shi Jin attempted to talk to Xiang Aoting: “Fourth Brother, you…”
“You shut up!” Xiang Aoting would not let him speak. Not taking his eyes off Lian Jun, he asked, “What exactly are you scheming? Why would you make Shi Jin, a child, take part in this mission?”
Shi Jin took a breath and was going to protest against being called ‘child,’ but Lian Jun grabbed his arm.
“I’m not scheming anything,” answered Lian Jun, raising his hand to stop Gua Nine and Gua Two from approaching Xiang Aoting. He calmly met Xiang Aoting’s hostile gaze and said, “Obviously, I chose Shi Jin because he is the most qualified candidate. Besides, Shi Jin is not a child, he’s already an adult.”
“…ulterior motives” – while I translated it in such a boring way, the words said here are 醉翁之意不在酒, lit. ‘Wine-lover’s heart is not in the cup’. It comes from the semi-biographical poem Zuiweng Tingji by Ouyang Xiu, and what the author meant by it is that the whole fun is not in drinking, but in enjoying the scenery in the mountains. The poem was written almost a thousand years ago, yet this line is still used as an idiom describing someone with an ulterior motive, or whose intention is not what it seems on the surface.