Death Progress Bar

Chapter 30 - Sick

Chapter 30: Sick


For his peace of mind, Shi Jin planned to observe Lian Jun covertly to determine whether he truly wasn’t angry. Lian Jun, however, did not give him this opportunity. After discovering Shi Jin bandaged his injuries but had not gone to rest like he was supposed to, he simply grabbed him by his clothes, moved his wheelchair while dragging him behind, then personally threw Shi Jin out of his room and closed the door.

“Why did he drive me out? I wasn’t going to disturb his rest.” Shi Jin was unwilling to give up. He said, a little sourly, “Gua Nine is allowed to wait on the sofa in the outer room when Lian Jun takes a nap.”

Xiao Si said with brutal honesty, <I think it’s because you’re too dirty right now…>

Shi Jin glanced down and rebutted, “I’m not! I changed into clean clothes this morning!”

<Yeah, but you haven’t bathed for days… And didn’t wash your hair…> Xiao Si continued mercilessly.

Shi Jin’s expression stiffened. It was true he hadn’t showered since the mission began and during that time, he rolled on the ground many times among other things. The moment he remembered that he felt itchy. “Didn’t Xiang Aoting wipe me after he took me to the hotel?”

Xiao Si’s voice was full of pity. <As if he would. It was already considerate of him to change you into pajamas so you could sleep more comfortably.>

Shi Jin: “…”

He rushed to his room, threw off his clothes and hopped into the bath, scrubbing until his skin became red. When he finally donned a bathrobe and came out, he found it was almost a dinnertime, so he dressed in casual clothes and headed to the dining room.

By the time he arrived, Lian Jun was already present. Seeing Shi Jin up and about, he did not say anything but only motioned him to sit down and eat, as usual.

Shi Jin was still unable to tell whether he was angry or not. Then he noticed most of the dishes on the table were his favorites, and felt so moved he couldn’t help but explain again, “Jun-shao, I really only care about you. If you don’t like it, I will change.”

The movement of Lian Jun’s chopsticks stopped. He raised his head to look at Shi Jin and asked, “In what way?”

“…I can be more reserved?” Shi Jin said tentatively.

Lian Jun put down his chopsticks and picked up the soup bowl. “Eat. When you finish, come with me to the study.”

Shi Jin: “…” Why do I feel the air pressure dropped?

After dinner, Shi Jin dutifully followed Lian Jun to his study. They sat opposite each other across the tea table, then Lian Jun took out the tea set and focused on making tea. He asked, “Are your injuries well?”

Unconsciously, Shi Jin’s gaze followed Lian Jun’s white fingers handling dark-colored teapot. He nodded. “Yes. It’s just a few scratches and some bruising, nothing to care about.”

Lian Jun poured out the first tea and began the second brewing. When he spoke again, the subject changed. “Tell me about your task.”

Shi Jin carefully observed his expression, but it did not give him any clues, so he obediently described the course of the mission in a brief manner.

As Lian Jun listened carefully, his actions never stopped. By the time Shi Jin finished, the tea was ready.

He poured a cup and pushed it in front of Shi Jin, saying, “Try it.”

Shi Jin drank it in one gulp and praised, “Delicious!”

Lian Jun: “…”

Shi Jin, who did not understand tea etiquette at all, was given a bit too late advice by Xiao Si: <JinJin, you don’t drink tea like that. You need to sip it slowly to savor the flavor.>

Shi Jin: “…”

Lian Jun straightened languidly, watching Shi Jin in silence.

Shi Jin’s back began to sweat. This moment, he deeply understood how arse-lickers, brown-nosers, and schmoozers felt when they were seen through. He looked away, shifting uncomfortably under Lian Jun’s death stare.

“Why did you insist on coming to the restaurant today?” Lian Jun asked out of the blue. Shi Jin opened his mouth, ready to suck up to him, but Lian Jun intercepted the words on his tongue. “I want to hear the truth.”

Hearing the abnormal tone of his voice, Shi Jin swallowed the flattery back and thought for a moment. “I was afraid you were in danger. Few people know you are still in B City, but suddenly, your friend made an appointment with you… I couldn’t help but feel something was wrong.”

“…You’re sharp.” Lian Jun’s fingers tapped on the wheelchair armrest. He leaned forward to remove the teapot from the table and rang for a cup of hot milk tea for Shi Jin. He said, his voice easing a little, “Don’t be so rash in the future. Next time, if you have any suspicions or misgivings, just ask me directly, don’t try to take everything upon yourself. Fighting a battle alone is a bad habit to have.”

Is he comforting me? And teaching me the proper way to deal with trouble while he’s at it?

Shi Jin was stunned. He stared at Lian Jun’s face, which refused to lose its pallor despite Shi Jin’s mothering, and couldn’t stop himself from blurting out, “Lian Jun, you must not die, you have to live for a long, long time.”

Lian Jun paused and looked at Shi Jin.

After these words escaped his lips, Shi Jin froze. Then he sighed, somewhat resignedly.

In the past, he wanted to save Lian Jun mostly because of the progress bar and Xiao Si, though the normal human kindness also played a part. Now that he accompanied Lian Jun for so long, however, he had no choice but to admit he wanted to save Lian Jun simply because he wanted him to live.

Humans are sentimental creatures. Lian Jun was a good man; he didn’t want him to die, not in the least.

“‘The future’ will come only if you live. That’s why, Lian Jun, work a little harder, ok? There are so many people who want you dead. I’m afraid that if you don’t do your best, aren’t more careful, you will suddenly disappear one day. Things rarely go exactly as planned; it’s not as if the danger will disappear just because you are well-prepared.” Shi Jin’s words were earnest and prompted by his true feelings. As he spoke, he instinctively moved to Lian Jun’s side and grasped a hand lying on the wheelchair armrest, leaning forward a little bit. He looked for all the world like a worried mother gently admonishing her son.

He was really afraid. Every time there was a danger, Lian Jun’s bar rose and fell like a roller coaster. Reason kept telling him the situation wasn’t so urgent, that the progress bar still had a safe margin, but the better he knew Lian Jun, the more influence his feelings had on his emotions. Right now, he could no longer guarantee he would be able to keep a cool head in every situation.

His eyes narrowing, Lian Jun glanced at the hand that was caught.

“For instance, this time,” Shi Jin continued to grumble. “So what if there were people in the lobby? They were too far away. In case someone in the next room acted, or Chen Qing broke down and decided to launch a suicide attack, they wouldn’t have time to respond.”

Lian Jun did not interrupt him but eyed the decreasing distance between the two of them.

“Besides, you knew this invitation was suspicious, so why didn’t you take more people? Not to mention Gua One, you should’ve taken Gua Three and Gua Five with you. Having Gua Two alone was too risky.” Shi Jin did not notice but, probably feeling the other party’s skin was too cold, he began to rub Lian Jun’s hand while he was scolding him.

The expression in Lian Jun’s eyes continued to darken. Finally, he called out, “Shi Jin.”

“Hmm?” Shi Jin turned his head to look at him. One person sat upright, the other leaned over him, and the distance between their faces was so close they could nearly count each other’s eyelashes.

Lian Jun looked at the expression of dewy-eyed innocence on Shi Jin’s face. He asked, “Does my hand feel good?” For some reason, his voice was a little lower than usual, with a bit of a drawl.

Shi Jin froze, and his movements paused. He glanced down at his hands, holding another hand tightly… After a few seconds, he woke up from his shock and jumped back, letting go of Lian Jun’s hand. His expression turned stiff from embarrassment. He wondered how to explain it was unintentional while wailing inwardly to Xiao Si, “I held Lian Jun’s hand? How? Why? When did I grab it?!”

Xiao Si’s voice was weird, with a hint of strange excitement: <JinJin, don’t be afraid! The nest greasy, support! Support!>

Wait, what are you supporting?!

Shi Jin was sure he either suffered from a sudden bout of insanity or had been possessed by a malevolent spirit. He peered at Lian Jun; seeing the inscrutable expression on his face, he swallowed hard and tried to save himself: “Jun-shao, your hands are too cold. You should wear warmer clothes, even though the club is heated.”

Ignoring him, Lian Jun turned his wheelchair around and moved it behind the desk, then picked up a document and began to read it. His whole body radiated cold indifference.

Shi Jin kept giving him surreptitious glances, wanting to speak but biting his tongue.

Ten minutes later, Lian Jun suddenly looked up and pointed at the door. “Get out, you’re too noisy.”

“I didn’t say a word.” Shi Jin felt aggrieved.

“The sound of your breathing is bothering me,” said Lian Jun callously, unmoved by his expression.

Shi Jin held his breath reflectively and persisted for a while, but Lian Jun gave him another death stare and he had to stop. Dejected, he hung his head and left the study, dragging his steps, sneaking a look behind him after each one.

Bang. The door to the study slammed shut.

“Xiao Si, I offended my boss. I’m in for it now, aren’t I?” Shi Jin asked weakly, standing in the corridor.

<Nope, it’s fiiine, Darling won’t hurt you, like never ever.> Xiao Si was not bothered, and its voice still was weirdly excited.

Shi Jin almost coughed blood. His “golden finger” shouldn’t be this useless, right?

It was still early evening. Shi Jin went back to his room, washed his face and teeth, then went to bed, but couldn’t fall asleep. For a while, he wondered if Lian Jun was truly angry, then his thoughts went wandering. Suddenly, he remembered his spoils from the mission and sat up, his mind coming back to reality. “Hey, Xiao Si, remember that information I asked you to copy? Let me have a look at it!”

Xiao Si, who was abruptly awakened from a certain fantasy, malfunctioned from excitement, and all the data it decoded flooded Shi Jin’s mind at once.

Shi Jin collapsed back on the bed, feeling as if his brain exploded.

Xiao Si panicked. It hurriedly gave him a bunch of buffs to adjust his physical condition and said, contrite, <I’m sorry, I forgot this information is foreign and incompatible with you, unlike the original ‘Shi Jin’s’ memory.>

“It’s all right.” Thanks to the buffs, Shi Jin gradually adapted, but he needed to concentrate on finding the information he wanted and had no attention to spare for chatting with his system.

Xiao Si copied four pieces of information in total: three from Brother Wolf and one from Pockmarked Yuan. Each of them contained a great amount of data—if Shi Jin had to read it in reality, it would take him at least a week. Fortunately, he had Xiao Si to help him sift through it. About an hour later, something that had the high probability of being the customer list appeared before his eyes.

Instead of names, the list contained letters and numbers; letters in front, numbers in the back, densely packed and unintelligible. At first glance, it looked like lines of random computer code.

Xiao Si said, <I roughly analyzed all the data and more or less confirmed this is the Werewolf’s customer list. The letters represent names, and the numbers are the contact information, scrambled in a particular way. The last few figures should be the dates of the transactions.>

“Can you unscramble it?” Shi Jin asked.

<Yes, but it will take a while.>

Shi Jin was relieved. “That’s fine, take your time,” he said, then racked his brain too, trying to get any clues from the dates of transactions.

He wasn’t any good at data analysis, however, and soon, the mass of numbers dancing in his head lulled him to sleep.

When Shi Jin woke up the next morning, his head felt heavy and was throbbing with pain. He touched his forehead and found that unexpectedly, he had a fever, and it was quite high.

Xiao Si said remorsefully, <It seems the amount of information was too much to take in at once, and it affected your body…>

Shi Jin struggled to get up, but it only made him dizzier, so he had no choice but to give up. He reached for his phone to send Lian Jun a text message asking for leave, inquiring, “Did you manage to unscramble the data?”

<Yes.> Xiao Si’s tone turned solemn. <The list has been decoded, but no contact information on it matches any of the novel characters we know. And because the deals didn’t go through, there’s no record of the money transactions that should’ve followed. As such, we lack the most important piece of information needed to determine the clients.>

Shi Jin’s headache became worse. “So all of this was useless, and we didn’t get any clues in the end?”

<Not quite… I checked the initials on the list against the names of the book characters. By a process of elimination, I finally got the most likely name.>

Shi Jin noticed the system’s tone was a little wrong, so he hurried to ask, “Who is it?”

<Xu Chuan, Shi Xingrui’s most trusted subordinate. He’s the person who came to read the will,> replied Xiao Si, adding, <According to the novel, Xu Chuan was eventually won over by Shi Weichong and became his exclusive lawyer. He provided Shi Weichong with a lot of valuable information, helping him consolidate his position in the Ruixing Corporation.>

Stunned, Shi Jin kept quiet for a while before confirming, “Are you sure?”

<Yes,> Xiao Si affirmed. Seeing Shi Jin’s expression wasn’t good, it tried to mollify him: <However, it’s possible my analysis is wrong. After all, there’s no way to prove the initials on the customer list really belong to Xu Chuan.>

“No need to prove it.” Shi Jin laid back on the bed and sighed, “Most likely, the person who made a deal with Werewolf is him. Do you remember the abnormal increase in my progress bar after I refused to accept the inheritance? At that time, I couldn’t figure it out. Now, I think it wasn’t because I rejected the inheritance but because I did not sign ‘that’ document.”

Xiao Si realized what he meant right away. <JinJin, are you saying there was a problem with the will Xu Chuan brought?>

“Yes, but this is just my suspicion.” Shi Jin felt all kinds of thoughts rush through his mind in a confused mess, making him dazed. “In the book, the original ‘Shi Jin’ was abducted shortly after signing it, then ‘he’ was locked up and tortured for a long time. When ‘he’ was rescued, Shi Weichong had already taken over Ruixing. Unfortunately, we have no way to know what happened to Ruixing during that time and what roles Shi Weichong and Xu Chuan played in it—we can only speculate.”

Xiao Si asked hesitantly, <Um, JinJin, do you think Xu Chuan might’ve colluded with Shi Weichong?>

After a moment of deliberation, Shi Jin shook his head. “I don’t think so. Shi Weichong did not intend to kill me, and after he came to the hospital to meet me, my bar immediately dropped a few points. My conjecture is, Shi Weichong’s timely appearance scared Xu Chuan and the person behind him because no further attempts to make me sign ‘that document’ were made, and there was no direct attack either.”

Xiao Si wasn’t completely convinced. <There’s still some possibility it’s him…>

“If it’s him, it would just mean I’m a blind moron who can’t read people if my life depended on it. But I still don’t think Shi Weichong colluded with Xu Chuan; at least, I’m certain he didn’t know the content of the will in advance. The novel said the five brothers did not know Shi Xingrui had given all his property to the original ‘Shi Jin’ until after the reading. While the plot does have many loopholes, the facts that are clearly stated shouldn’t be wrong.”

Shi Jin pulled the quilt to cover his face and continued, “Also, think carefully about the fluctuations of progress bar after I entered the hospital. When I met Shi Weichong, at first my progress bar dropped to 997, but it rose again after I tried to sound him out. Now, the reason is crystal clear—Shi Weichong was getting annoyed because of my probing. If I continued to speak, he probably would get angry, leave, and stop bothering about me. Xu Chuan would then be able to take advantage of the situation and fool me into signing the documents… Fortunately, I shut up in time and made Shi Weichong stay in the hospital. Thanks to that, Xu Chuan was forced to divide the inheritance into five parts leaving nothing for me, which saved my life. If they were in collusion, not only my progress bar wouldn’t fluctuate so much but there would be no need for Shi Weichong to accompany me—he would just make me sign the document at the very beginning.”

Xiao Si sunk in thought.

Explaining his reasoning out loud helped Shi Jin put his thoughts in order. As he remembered the time he spent with Shi Weichong and the way they were getting along, a certain realization appeared in his mind. He abruptly pulled down the quilt covering his face and said, “It’s useless thinking about it anymore. There is a simple, surefire way to confirm whether Shi Weichong and Xu Chuan colluded.”

Xiao Si returned to itself and asked eagerly, <What way?>

“Asking him directly.”

<Asking him?!> Xiao Si was shocked.

“Yes, asking him. Shi Weichong is now a loving, doting brother—why shouldn’t I just ask him? Even if he is pretending, I have my ‘golden thigh,’ so I won’t die.” Cheered up by this thought, Shi Jin wanted to jump out of the bed but when he sat up, the world started to spin before his eyes. Dizzy, he fell back on the bed yet again and said weakly, “Xiao Si, I’m dying. Help me send a text message to Gua Two, ask him to bring the doctor.”

Xiao Si: <…>

The doctor arrived a few minutes later, accompanied by Gua Two and Lian Jun.

When Gua Two saw Shi Jin woozy from fever, he joked it was retribution for losing too much weight while heartlessly smirking at his discomfort.

Shi Jin managed to roll his eyes at him and moved his line of sight to Lian Jun.

They looked at each other for a moment, then Lian Jun signaled the doctor to come forward.

After the doctor took Shi Jin’s temperature, his eyebrows rose. He patted the teenager’s forehead, saying, “You can nearly fry eggs on his head, yet he still managed to send a text message for help and not make a single typing error. This is what I call a robust young man!”

Patted like that, Shi Jin felt his soul was about to leave the body. He forced out, “Don’t do that, Uncle Long, my head hurts. Can you give me two injections? I don’t feel too well.”

Uncle Long took pity on him and took his hand away. He found a right ampoule and skillfully drew the medicine from it, saying, “I like the patients who are so obedient. Two injections, right? Don’t worry, uncle will be careful.” He looked pointedly at Lian Jun sitting next to him.

Lian Jun paid him no mind. He moved his wheelchair to the other side of the bed, then reached to touch Shi Jin’s head.

His hand was icy. At first, Shi Jin shivered at the temperature, but then it felt comfortable so he turned a little, pushing his burning forehead into the cold palm.

Lian Jun froze. After hesitating for a moment, he put his hand back on Shi Jin’s head, touching it gently. “How are you feeling?”

“Not too bad, but I’m dizzy,” answered Shi Jin, pushing his head into Lian Jun’s palm again.

Gua Two’s jaw dropped. He looked as if he had just seen a miracle.

Lian Jun’s fingers moved slightly, touching the hair on Shi Jin’s temples. “It’s long,” he said suddenly.

“Is it? I didn’t notice…” Shi Jin closed his eyes, beginning to feel drowsy. He knew he wouldn’t be clear-headed for long, so he opened his eyes with difficulty and looked at Lian Jun. “Jun-shao, you shouldn’t stay with me. You have to be careful not to get sick too.”

Hearing his slightly muddled voice, Lian Jun touched his hair again. “Sleep,” he replied.

Shi Jin could stay awake no longer.

Uncle Long’s eyes stopped on Lian Jun’s hand which was still touching Shi Jin’s head. He took out a cooling patch, moved Lian Jun’s hand away, and put it on the teenager’s forehead. “Jun-shao, Shi Jin’s right, you have to go out soon. His fever shouldn’t be contagious, but your body is too weak. If by any chance you catch his illness, you won’t be able to withstand it.”

Lian Jun glanced at him, then looked at Shi Jin, whose expression eased up slightly after applying the cooling patch. In the end, he said nothing. Taking back his hand, he moved the wheelchair next to Gua Two and commanded, “You’re staying here. Call me if anything happens.”

Gua Two nodded, saw him off, and walked to the bed. Watching Shi Jin’s face, which looked more silly after he fell asleep, he couldn’t help but flick his forehead and whisper, “You little fellow… You aren’t trying to turn your wishful thinking into reality, are you?”

Uncle Long, who was applying a tourniquet to Shi Jin’s arm, gave him a look and snorted quietly. He wiped the patch of skin with rubbing alcohol, then firmly inserted the needle into the vein.

Translator’s Notes:

“Lian Jun poured out the first tea and began the second brewing” – When the host brews tea, the first tea should be poured away without drinking, as it contains impurities. Making the guests drink the first tea means humiliating them (according to this site; the wording is a little awkward, but it’s a short read and it explains some things you might’ve wondered about when reading Chinese novels).

“He understood how arse-lickers, brown-nosers, and schmoozers felt when they were seen through” – it was impossible to translate this literally. It’s said that when the Mongolians during the Yuan Dynasty met and the other side’s horse was good, they had a habit of slapping the horse’s butt as a praise. As time passed, people came to slap the horses’ butts even though they weren’t good just to please the horse owner, thus the term 拍马屁 (“slapping the horse’s butt”) came to mean a too obvious flattery. (Source: this site and Baidu Knows.)

“Shi Jin wanted to jump out of the bed” – 鲤鱼打挺, lit. “carp jumping out of the water.” Shi Jin wanted to get up like Jackie Chan. Curious? Look here.

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