When Shi Jin was asked, he hesitated for a moment. He looked at the document, then at Lian Jun's unpleasant expression. He thought back to his own emotional journey over the past few days, and finally could only dryly reply, "I forgot to mention it...I didn't mean to hide it from you..."
He really did forget. On the day he returned, his mind was filled with thoughts of Chen Qing. Later, because of the trouble caused by Shi Weichong and the others, he was busy worrying that Lian Jun might be angry. When he reported on the mission, he didn't even mention the list of clients he obtained from the Werewolf group. He only remembered it when he was lying in bed at night, lost in thought.
Afterwards, when the analysis was complete, he had a high fever for several days and his mind was confused. Once he recovered, he immediately put the matter of Yuan Ma-zi behind him and only thought about investigating whether Shi Weichong had colluded with Xu Chuan. He didn't even think to tell Lian Jun about the matter.
In short, he forgot, or rather, he never even thought to inform Lian Jun.
Lian Jun looked at his sincerely foolish face and held back from speaking for a while. But after confirming that his explanation was just one sentence, he became even more angry and asked, "You forgot? Is that your explanation?"
Shi Jin stiffly nodded under his anger.
Lian Jun tried to move his wheelchair forward, but he stopped abruptly after just one step. He looked at Shi Jin and forced his voice to calm down as he asked, "When you went to see Shi Weichong that day and told me it was a family matter, were you referring to your suspicion of being one of the Werewolf's targets?"
Shi Jin's face turned pale with anger and fear. He timidly held onto the wheelchair handle and nodded, "Yes, that was it."
"What a family matter! Shi Jin, go back and think carefully. Come back to me when you've figured it out." Lian Jun grabbed his hand and threw it down before sliding away in his wheelchair without looking back.
The study door was slammed shut from the outside.
Shi Jin was frightened by Lian Jun's rare anger and stared at the door with wide eyes.
A few seconds later, Number Two pushed open the door and poked his head in. He lowered his voice and asked, "Why did Young Master Jun leave? He was so angry that he went straight to the second basement."
Shi Jin was still a bit confused and didn't understand why Lian Jun would be so angry. He could only shake his head in distress at Number Two's question and replied, "I don't know... Why would Young Master Jun go to the second basement?"
"To practice shooting. Whenever Second Young Master gets really angry or is in a bad mood, he goes to the gun range to practice. It's an old habit," Number Two answered. Seeing Shi Jin looking both confused and foolish, he couldn't help but ask, "What did you talk about with Young Master Jun just now?"
Shi Jin felt like he had caught a lifeline, and he picked up the documents and walked over to him. He stammered and told him what happened, then finally said, "I really did forget. But when I explained, Young Master Jun got even more angry. Then he told me to think it over and go find him when I had a clear answer."
After listening to his explanation, Number Two frowned and said, "Shi Jin, perhaps it's because you arrived late and weren't promoted step by step in Annihilation, so you lack some common sense. Your approach this time is a fundamental mistake in our line of work. The most taboo thing in our organization is hiding information. This matter may seem small to you, and it's your private affair, it's alright for you to figure it out on your own, but you shouldn't have kept it from Young Master Jun.
"Otherwise, if something unexpected happens to you because of this matter one day, we won't even have a clue to help you. This is the experience that countless members have paid for with their blood - when it comes to information involving personal danger, whether it's confirmed or not, it must be reported upwards. This is for your own good and for everyone's good. Do you understand?"
Shi Jin had never thought about this before, but upon hearing Number Two's words, he suddenly understood and nodded, saying, "I...understand now."
Seeing that Shi Jin had listened to him, Number Two was very pleased and continued, "Besides hiding information, you also made a mistake by secretly seeking outside help without informing Young Master Jun."
Shi Jin defended himself, "I didn't intend to seek outside help. I just wanted to probe my elder brother's attitude at the time."
"I believe you didn't intentionally seek outside help. Young Master Jun should have realized this too, otherwise he wouldn't just storm off to the shooting range in anger, you would be hauled off to be punished. You may not have had the intention to seek outside help, but what you did appeared to others as seeking outside help. In our line of work, when faced with danger or potential danger, the best course of action is to report upwards, not to try to handle it yourself and seek outside help, which could escalate the situation.
"However, your seeking of outside help this time wasn't too much of a taboo, since it was your brother after all. Your main mistake was not informing Young Master Jun beforehand... Anyway, think about it carefully and when you've figured it out, go talk to Young Master Jun. He left you some leeway with that statement, so you better act fast."
After finishing, Number Two looked at Shi Jin with a pensive expression. With a heavy sigh, he turned around and walked away.
Sitting back on the sofa, Shi Jin lowered his head and flipped through the documents. "Xiao Si, did I really make a terrible mistake?" he asked.
Xiao Si comforted him, "Not really, you just lack experience."
"It's not about experience," Shi Jin quickly reflected on his recent thoughts and Number Two's words, letting out a sigh. "I just...didn't take it seriously."
If only he had trusted Lian Jun a little more and kept him in mind, he wouldn't have forgotten to inform him about the hitlist. In the end, it was just that he didn't take it seriously. Although he cared about Lian Jun's safety and saw him as a lifesaving big thigh, he never thought about truly entrusting his own safety to him.
Lian Jun always saw him as a subordinate who needed protection, but he never saw Lian as a reliable boss. This emotional difference was the real reason why he "forgot" to tell Lian Jun about the hitlist.
Xiao Si didn't know how to comfort him and just kept stammering.
"Let's go." Shi Jin suddenly put away the files and stood up.
Xiao Si asked, "Where are we going?"
"To apologize." Shi Jin replied with a sigh, "You know how fragile your Baby's body is. Shooting requires a lot of physical strength, and getting angry can harm his health. His face turned pale when he left, and I'm afraid that all the progress he made in recovering his energy will be lost because of this."
Xiao Si's heart sank at his words and urged Shi Jin to walk faster.
The shooting range was blocked off by Lian Jun, leaving Shi Jin stuck outside the reception room, unable to enter.
After waiting for several hours, Lian Jun finally emerged in his wheelchair, looking unchanged and even calm, with no trace of his previous anger.
Shi Jin rushed forward and stood in front of Lian Jun, saying, "Young Master Jun, I understand now."
Lian Jun stopped his wheelchair and glanced at him, saying simply, "Speak."
Relieved that Lian Jun was willing to communicate, Shi Jin quickly confessed that he shouldn't have hidden the client list and seek outside help, and then sincerely apologized and offered to accept punishment.
Lian Jun remained silent for a while, slowly tapping his wheelchair armrest with his fingers, and asked, "Did Number Two analyze it for you?"
When Shi Jin's expression stiffened, he cautiously glanced at him and honestly nodded, then added, "I really know I was wrong. I will definitely pay attention in the future and there won't be a next time."
Lian Jun still looked at him and asked, "Do you have anything else to say?"
Shi Jin, holding onto a gambler's mentality, shook his head lightly.
Lian Jun's face darkened as he turned his wheelchair to go back to the shooting range.
"Don't! I still have something to say. Don't go back to the shooting range, just look at how pale your face is!" Shi Jin hurriedly reached out to stop Lian Jun's wheelchair, even daring to pick up Lian Jun's right hand and see that the palm was indeed red.
He couldn't help but mutter, "You're already angry, why are you torturing yourself like this? Don't you know your body isn't good? The recoil from the gun is so strong, and you still practice for so long..."
"Enough!" Lian Jun pulled back his hand and said with a stern face, "Go away and continue to reflect."
"It's time for lunch. I'll reflect after I eat." Shi Jin supported his wheelchair, ignoring his objections and pushing him back into the elevator. He pressed the button for the sixth floor and said, "Let's eat first. You don't have to drink soup today."
Lian Jun pursed his thin lips and said in a deep voice, "Shi Jin, don't push your luck."
"I'm not pushing my luck. I just haven't finished explaining yet. Let's talk while we eat." Shi Jin said, afraid that he would really get angry.
He softened his tone and comforted him, "You can vent your anger on me. Why are you so hard on yourself? I have thick skin and can take a beating and scolding. Just tell me straight, I may not be able to understand it myself, but I will definitely reflect on it."
Lian Jun turned his head and remained silent, not even wanting to look at his reflection in the elevator.
Shi Jin didn't keep nagging him. He bent down and pulled the blanket for him, then pushed him out of the elevator and walked towards the restaurant. Along the way, he even remembered to call the kitchen and tell them not to make soup today.
When they arrived at the restaurant, Shi Jin settled Lian Jun in his usual seat and didn't sit in his own usual spot. Instead, he sat next to Lian Jun and sincerely said, "I really know I was wrong. Please don't be angry anymore."
Lian Jun didn't look at him, but he also didn't stop him from speaking. Shi Jin sighed and dragged his chair closer to him. He helped adjust the blanket and spoke in a gentle tone, "I really didn't mean to hide it from you. The day we came back from the mission, I was already feeling anxious because of Chen Qing's situation and the misunderstanding with my big brother at your place. When I reported on the mission, I completely forgot about the Werewolf group's client list. And then, when I finally remembered, I started running a high fever and was in a daze all day. I really forgot."
Lian Jun remained silent, but his head tilted slightly towards Shi Jin, indicating that he was listening carefully.
When Shi Jin saw his positive response, he continued, "As for me going to find my eldest brother, I wasn't actually looking for outside help. I just wanted to probe my eldest brother's attitude."
He then explained in detail how he had deduced that Xu Chuan was the one trying to frame him, and also talked about Xu Chuan's status in the Shi family and the possibility of collusion between Shi Weichong and Xu Chuan. However, he intentionally blurred the part about copying the information, only saying that he had deduced Xu Chuan's name from various clues.
"You know, I used to have a lot of distrust towards my brothers. Although things have improved a bit lately and some misunderstandings have been cleared up, I'm still afraid that I might be too optimistic. So, I wanted to test my eldest brother's attitude. My intention was to eliminate any suspicion of collusion between my eldest brother and Xu Chuan, not to ask for his help and go behind your back to seek outside assistance."
Finally, Lian Jun looked at him directly. Although his brow was still furrowed, his tone had softened a bit. He asked, "Then why didn't you tell me? From the time you recovered from your illness and went to find Shi Weichong, to the authorities' report that came later, you had countless opportunities to tell me about this. Why didn't you?"
"I..." Shi Jin met his gaze, various excuses rolled through his mind. Faced with Lian Jun's eyes, he couldn't bring himself to say anything that would deceive him. He lowered his head and sighed, "Because I felt like this is my private matter, there's no need to talk about it... I never even realized that I should have informed you about it."
This statement was too harsh, almost shoving the fact that Shi Jin never intended to rely on Lian Jun in his face. He was too independent, both inside and out, and he never had the thought of "seeking help from others when in need" in his subconscious.
He always put himself in the position of helping others and never got used to asking for help himself.
Perhaps he didn't even realize it himself - he cared about Lian Jun, but he didn't need him either.
Lian Jun was not foolish, in fact, he was overly intelligent and sensitive. As he looked at Shi Jin's lowered head, the emotions that had been brewing in his chest all afternoon slowly dissipated. He released his grip on the wheelchair and slid it closer to the dining table, but also a bit further away from Shi Jin, saying, "Let's eat."
Shi Jin looked up at him, hesitated, and called out, "Young Master Jun..."
"Eat," Lian Jun interrupted him, picking up his chopsticks. "I'll keep an eye on Xu Chuan's situation for you. Take this time to brush up on your common sense with Number Two. I don't want to see a repeat of this kind of thing."
Shi Jin looked at his calm visage, wanting to say something, but only opened and closed his mouth.
He didn't know what to say. He had explained everything he needed to explain, and Lian Jun clearly had decided to turn the page. It seemed like... Lian Jun didn't want to hear anything more from him.
After the tense meal, it seemed like Lian Jun wasn't angry anymore. He gave instructions when necessary and even asked about Xu Chuan's situation in detail, as if he was preparing to help investigate the matter. But Shi Jin still felt uneasy, even more so than when Lian Jun was clearly angry before.
In the following days, with Lian Jun's intervention, Xu Chuan's interrogation process began to progress rapidly. It was unclear how Lian Jun did it, but he managed to get the leader of the Werewolf group and his two henchmen to talk. From them, they uncovered the specific process of the transaction between Xu Chuan and the kidnappers, as well as Xu Chuan's specific demands for the target to be tortured.
Disfigurement, finger amputation, and even death were all on the table, but only after enough torture had been inflicted. Xu Chuan's demands were extremely cruel and vicious.
When Xiang Aoting received the confession, he was so angry that he almost stormed into Xu Chuan's room to beat him up. His expression was terrifying when the people around him stopped him.
With the detailed confessions of the Werewolf gang's leader and his two henchmen, the interrogators finally pried open Xu Chuan's mouth and forced him to say his first words since being caught: "I want to see Shi Weichong and Shi Jin."
After receiving the news, Shi Weichong refused Xu Chuan's request to see Shi Jin without hesitation, unwilling for Shi Jin to face Xu Chuan's malice. However, Shi Jin insisted on going and expressed his desire to talk to Xu Chuan face to face.
The brothers were at a stalemate, but in the end, Lian Jun made the decision: go, since Shi Jin wanted to go, then he should go.
Shi Weichong was furious, but he had no choice but to compromise. Lian Jun had plenty of connections to get Shi Jin in to see Xu Chuan, and despite Shi Jin's objections, it was better to go together and keep an eye on the meeting process than to let Shi Jin see Xu Chuan without his knowledge.
When they had a free moment, Shi Weichong drove to the club to bring Shi Jin in to see Xu Chuan.
Before leaving, Shi Jin went to find Lian Jun and told him he would be back before dinner and wouldn't be delayed for too long.
Lian Jun responded with a simple "call Number One if you need anything," without even looking up from his documents.
Shi Jin hesitated for a moment, but ultimately kept quiet and left the study feeling a bit disheartened. For several days, he could clearly feel the coldness and distance from Lian Jun. Although they still ate together and stayed close during the day, there was obviously less communication, and Lian Jun's demeanor was always subdued, not as lively as before.
To make matters worse, Lian Jun started to be picky with his food again, and his complexion worsened a bit. The weight that he had worked so hard to gain was looking like it was going to disappear.
He sighed, feeling very worried.
This was already the third time he had sighed since getting on the car. Shi Weichong couldn't help but ask, "What's wrong with you? You're only seventeen or eighteen years old, but you're sighing more than an old man. Are you worried about Xu Chuan?"
Shi Jin snapped out of his thoughts, turned his head to look at him, and shook his head, "No... I'm worried about Lian Jun. He's been losing weight lately."
When Shi Weichong heard this, his face turned black and he didn't say anything. Although Shi Jin had explained last time that he only admired Lian Jun and had no other thoughts, Shi Jin's constant concern for Lian Jun's behavior really made people wonder.
But Shi Jin opened his mouth and said, "I always feel like Lian Jun is holding a grudge in his heart, but he just won't say it. I don't know what to do. He doesn't even eat properly anymore. Before, when I teased him a little, he could still manage to eat a few bites. But now, if I say anything, he'll just wheel away and would rather go hungry than continue eating. He doesn't care about his own health at all."
Shi Weichong felt suffocated and couldn't help but say, "He's an adult, whether he eats or not is his own business. Why are you worrying about it? You're just with him as an alternative to 'going to college', not to be his nanny. Why bother thinking about these things?"
"How can I not think about it? All the weight on his body was painstakingly earned by me, one mouthful of food at a time. Do you know how hard it is for me?" Shi Jin felt very uncomfortable in his heart and slumped back in his chair, letting out the fourth sigh since getting in the car. He murmured, "If only I could evenly distribute the flesh on my body to him..."
Shi Weichong's forehead veins bulged and he slammed on the brakes, stopping the car on the side of the road. He turned his head and glared at Shi Jin.
Shi Jin was startled and felt even more uncomfortable. "Brother, what are you doing? Don't get mad at me too, I can't take it."
"...You really deserve it!" Shi Weichong started the car again, trying to avoid getting too angry. He changed the subject and asked, "It's almost Chinese New Year, do you have any plans? Where are you going to celebrate?"
Chinese New Year?
Shi Jin was taken aback and looked out the window. He saw that some buildings along the road had already put up red lanterns and "luck" characters, and only then realized that the new year was approaching without him even noticing. He couldn't help but sigh. He wouldn't be able to eat his family's homemade dumplings or receive any text messages from his colleagues this year.
Shi Weichong got a headache from hearing him sigh and couldn't help but hit on his head.
"Ow!" Shi Jin hit his head on the car window and turned to look at Shi Weichong, frowning. "Why did you hit me?"
"To see if I can slap you awake," said Shi Weichong irritably. Seeing the pitiful look on his face, he couldn't bring himself to really scold him. He decided to stop chatting with him altogether, lest he really be angered to death.
The place where Xu Chuan was being held was relatively hidden, in a detention center that was not open to the public. After all, he was a well-known lawyer and had connections with gray organizations like the Werewolf group, so he had to be treated with caution.
When Shi Weichong and Shi Jin arrived, Xiang Aoting was already there, talking to the police in charge of interrogating Xu Chuan.
"Fourth brother," Shi Jin called out as he entered the room.
Xiang Aoting looked up at the sound of his voice, paused his conversation, and walked over to them. "Do you really want to go in and see Xu Chuan?" he asked.
Shi Jin nodded. "Yes, I want to know why he wanted to harm me."
"Big brother can help you with this," said Xiang Aoting, disagreeing with his thoughts. He asked again, but seeing that he couldn't persuade him, he turned to look at Shi Weichong, who was standing next to Shi Jin.
"Don't worry, I'll keep an eye on him," reassured Shi Weichong.
Xiang Aoting was helpless, so he turned around and greeted the interrogators, allowing the two of them to enter the interrogation room.
Upon hearing the sound of the door opening, Xu Chuan did not move. It wasn't until Shi Weichong and Shi Jin sat down across from him that he seemed to sense something and looked up. Since Shi Weichong was sitting across from him, he was the first person Xu Chuan saw. However, he was clearly not very interested in Shi Weichong and quickly shifted his gaze to Shi Jin next to him.
Then, he froze.
Shi Jin met his gaze, carefully observing his expression. He spoke first, asking, "Why did you want to harm me?"
Xu Chuan's expression was somewhat peculiar as he carefully examined Shi Jin's appearance. He leaned back in his chair and slowly sat up, leaning in closer to Shi Jin, even reaching out to touch his face.
"What are you doing?!" Shi Weichong slapped his hand away.
Xu Chuan seemed to have been awakened from a dream. He looked at Shi Weichong, then at Shi Jin, and suddenly laughed, saying, "You guys sitting here peacefully together is ridiculous, truly ridiculous. I have nothing to say. The winner takes all, the loser is nothing. Behind me is Xu Tianhua, former vice chairman of Ruihang. He has long been dissatisfied with Shi Xingrui. When he learned that Shi Xingrui wanted to leave all the company's shares to Shi Jin, he came up with a plan to kill or cripple Shi Jin and take control of Ruihang. Unfortunately, his plan had not been put into action yet when you, Shi Weichong, suddenly appeared."