After finishing his confession, Xu Chuan fell silent and looked like he didn't want to talk anymore. He even lowered his head and stopped looking at Shi Weichong and Shi Jin.
Shi Weichong tried to provoke Xu Chuan with a few words, but it had no effect.
Xu Chuan had been a lawyer for Shi Xingrui for many years and knew the situation of the Shi family very well. He was also a powerful lawyer with no attachments. If he didn't want to speak up, no one could force him to do so.
The conversation was going nowhere, and Shi Jin looked at Xu Chuan and asked, "Who are you looking at through me?"
Shi Weichong frowned at his brother's question.
Xu Chuan moved slightly and raised his head to look at Shi Jin without saying a word.
"When I was fat before, you never looked at me like this," Shi Jin stared directly into Xu Chuan's eyes, giving himself a little buff, intentionally lowering his voice and slowing down his speech as he asked, "Third Brother said I look a lot like my mother, did you know her?"
Xu Chuan's eyes flickered, his gaze slowly moving from Shi Jin's eyebrows to his nose, finally landing on his lips. His Adam's apple moved as he said, "The most similar part is the lips... Why did you have to lose weight? You don't deserve to have this face! Go die! Die!"
He suddenly erupted, reaching out to grab Shi Jin's face. Shi Weichong's expression changed, standing up and blocking in front of Shi Jin. He pushed Xu Chuan back forcefully, shouting, "Calm down!"
From outside the room, Xiang Aoting also pushed the door open and rushed in, calmly walked up and pulled Xu Chuan, who had fallen to the ground, and handcuffed him to the chair.
"Tsk." Xu Chuan suddenly calmed down again, leaning on the chair, looking back at Xiang Aoting, then at Shi Weichong, but did not look at Shi Jin again, and said maliciously, "Shi Weichong, I admit, you are very capable. Several brothers were easily swayed by you, and although the shares were supposed to be split evenly, Ruihang ended up in your hands. But you are really ridiculous, it was you who instigated others to play the game of excluding the youngest brother, and now you're pretending to have brotherly love?"
Shi Weichong's face was as calm as water, without refuting his words, only saying, "I owe Xiao Jin, and I will naturally repay him. Who do you think you are, causing harm and trying to sow discord?"
"I'm not trying to sow discord, I just find it all too ridiculous," Xu Chuan lowered his head and spoke in a despondent tone, as if he no longer had any desires in life. "Shi Weichong, you should know better. Trash like Shi Jin is not worthy of being your brother. And as for Shi Jin, he's the typical fool who helps count the money after being sold. You deserves to be trash."
"That's enough!" Shi Weichong stood up, walked around and punched Xu Chuan in the face. He then went back to Shi Jin, who was still sitting there, and pulled him up, leading him outside, not wanting to hear any more of Xu Chuan's nonsense.
Xu Chuan's head was knocked to the side by the punch. He stuck out his tongue and touched his cheek, looking at Shi Jin who was walking away and turning back. Suddenly, he smiled, and mouthed silently: They're trying to harm you. Run.
Shi Jin frowned fiercely.
"Damn it, what did you say!" Xiang Aoting grabbed Xu Chuan and prevented him from looking at Shi Jin again.
Xu Chuan lowered his head and laughed, his voice getting louder and his expression crazier like a madman.
Shi Jin slowly withdrew his gaze and, with Shi Weichong, walked out of the interrogation room, leaving Xu Chuan's laughter behind the closed door.
Just now, after Xu Chuan uttered that silent reminder, his progress bar dropped to 700. This was the largest drop since he entered B City - undoubtedly, the drop in the progress bar was related to the decrease in the lethal factor, not the survival factor.
Xu Chuan was definitely one of the culprits who wanted to harm him, but his attitude was too contradictory. He clearly hated him, but the last hint seemed like he was helping him.
What did that hint mean? Was it implying that Shi Weichong and his other brothers were bad?
He looked at Shi Weichong walking in front of him and shook his head. No, Shi Weichong and his brothers couldn't be the culprits. Perhaps the "they" in Xu Chuan's words didn't refer to Shi Weichong and his brothers, but to someone else, like... Xu Tianhua?
And what feelings were being hidden behind Xu Chuan's strange attitude, after seeing his own face?
"Xiao Jin." Shi Weichong suddenly stopped and let go of Shi Jin's arm, turning around.
Shi Jin was lost in thought about Xu Chuan's words and didn't react in time, directly crashing into Shi Weichong's arms.
Shi Weichong was taken aback, then raised his hand to hold Shi Jin's shoulder and gently hugged him, saying, "Xiao Jin, about what happened in the past... I'm sorry."
Shi Jin came back to his senses and patted Shi Weichong's shoulder to comfort him, saying, "No need to apologize, I understand. Xu Chuan is just trying to sow discord between us, but I won't fall for it."
Shi Weichong tightened his grip on Shi Jin's hand, then let go and touched his head, saying, "Thank you, Xiao Jin."
Shi Jin shook his head and smiled at him.
Since he had chosen to trust Shi Weichong, he would not let the wild sayings of others destroy the trust they had worked so hard to build, unless there was concrete evidence that Shi Weichong had ulterior motives.
When they went back, Xiang Aoting also got on the car and sent Shi Jin off with Shi Weichong.
Shi Jin saw that the two brother's emotions had calmed down. Shi Jin asked, "Big Brother, Fourth Brother, Xu Chuan seems to know my mother. He hates me because I look like her. Do you know anything about my mother?"
Xiang Aoting shook his head and replied, "I only know that your mother was brought back by Father from a remote small town. She followed him for two years, gave birth to you, and then passed away shortly after. It seems that her body was frail after childbirth."
The information he provided was vague and unhelpful, just a passing mention in the original plot.
Shi Jin turned to Shi Weichong - as the eldest son, Shi Weichong had more opportunities to interact with Shi Xingrui, so he should have more detailed information. As expected, Shi Weichong thought for a moment and said something different: "Your mother was young when she gave birth to you, not even twenty years old. I didn't have many chances to see her. After she appeared, Dad rarely visited us, especially after you were born. He completely ignored us brothers until your mother passed away and he reunited with us. And before your mother appeared, Dad hadn't been with any women for a long time. I remember Dad even had plans to marry and register with your mother."
Shi Jin listened with mixed emotions and whispered, "I'm sorry."
Their father had practically abandoned them because of a young woman who suddenly appeared. It must have been hard for the children like Shi Weichong at that time. They were just a group of ten-year-old kids.
"It's nothing. We're used to it," said Xiang Aoting, trying to comfort him. Then he mentioned Shi Xingrui and his tone became colder. "Regardless of whether your mother appeared or not, Shi Xingrui never treated me and your other brothers as his father."
Shi Weichong's expression also cooled down. He drove quietly for a while before continuing, "Actually, I always thought that when Dad said he wanted to marry your mother, it was just another way to woo a woman. It wasn't until your mother passed away and Dad took care of you carefully that I changed my mind. You mean something different to Dad, and that has never changed."
Shi Jin fell silent, unsure of how to respond.
Despite all being his son, the original owner of the body was always the special one among the five brothers, and this was the root of their conflicts. No matter what he said now, Shi Jin felt like he was standing on shaky ground.
"Xu Chuan knew your mother, should be from when they met during the two years when she followed your father," Shi Weichong suddenly changed the topic, his tone returning to normal. "If we want to find out the reason behind his strange attitude, we must start from those two years."
Shi Jin snapped out of his thoughts and nodded in agreement, not wanting to continue the unpleasant topic.
After returning to the club, Shi Jin reported the situation to Lian Jun, recounting Xu Chuan's strange behavior and his own speculations. He tried to be as honest and thorough as possible. He let out a sigh as he finished speaking, his tone lowering: "I originally wanted to ask Big Brother and Fourth Brother about Father's attitude towards their mothers before my mother appeared, but their faces at the time made it difficult for me to ask."
Lian Jun continued to look down at the documents, not responding or interrupting him, and it was unclear whether he was even listening. Shi Jin leaned on the table and muttered to himself, "Actually, I've heard some rumors that my dad didn't look for my eldest brother's mother because he liked her. He just wanted to have more sons. Since I can remember, I've never seen my brothers' mothers. Dad intentionally avoided introducing me to them and blurred their existence for me.
"Before my brothers grew up, Dad sent someone to pick them up whenever they came to play. After they became adults, they came on their own, and there has never been a woman's figure in our house. Dad rarely mentioned them, as if he had already cut off all ties with them and had nothing to do with them anymore."
"A father who played favorites, the mothers abandoned and neglected by him, a younger brother who craved their attention despite being the only one showered with love... No wonder my older brothers used to hate me, even despise me. If I were in their shoes, I might have wanted to kill our irresponsible father and beat some sense into our clueless little brother."
Finally looking up from his documents, Lian Jun said, "You wouldn't."
"What?" Shi Jin didn't catch it and looked up at him.
"With your personality, even if you were in Shi Weichong's position, you would still keep your distance from that mess instead of going along with the act." Lian Jun closed the file, poked Shi Jin's forehead with a pen, and rolled his wheelchair, saying, "It's time for dinner. Let's go to the dining hall."
Shi Jin rubbed his head where he had been poked, his eyes lighting up. He eagerly leaned over to help support Lian Jun's wheelchair and asked with joy, "Young Master Jun, you're not mad at me anymore?"
Lian Jun didn't refuse his eagerness, his hands folded on his stomach and his expression unchanged. "I'm not mad."
"But you were definitely mad before," Shi Jin happily pushed him forward, talking to himself, "So now that you're not mad, can you eat a little more? You clearly want to eat, why hold back?"
Lian Jun's face was stern as he coldly said, "I wasn't holding back, your eating habits are too crude and it affects my appetite."
Shi Jin gritted his teeth at being called out for his crude eating habits, and compromised, "Okay, I'll try to eat more politely from now on."
Lian Jun tilted his head slightly and ignored him, but he ate half a bowl of rice more and drank a few mouthfuls of soup that day.
Shi Jin was overjoyed and looked at Lian Jun as if he were a pleased father watching his child finally obey.
A few days later, Xu Tianhua, the former vice chairman of Ruihang, was tricked back to the country by the police, secretly arrested at the airport, and locked up next to Xu Chuan.
Facing the accusation of hiring someone to kidnap and blackmail Xu Chuan, Xu Tianhua stubbornly denied it. But Xu Chuan, like a broken jar, suddenly became talkative and spilled all the dirt on Xu Tianhua, from his small actions at Ruihang to his evil deeds outside. He revealed everything he knew and even provided the account number Xu Tianhua used to pay the deposit for the kidnapping case.
Xu Tianhua was absolutely furious.
After being bitten, he didn't hesitate to tear down Xu Chuan as well, revealing in detail how he had sold secrets to himself while behind Shi Xingrui's back.
The two of them were like dogs biting each other, and both were convicted and awarded a pair of "silver bracelets". They would face a lot of accusations in the future and probably spend the rest of their lives in prison.
When Shi Jin received the confessions of Xu Tianhua and Xu Chuan, his mood was beyond complicated. He had originally thought that Xu Chuan was lying and deceiving them, and guessed that the person behind him was not Xu Tianhua. But he didn't expect that these two people were really colluding with each other, and had been doing so ages.
He looked at his progress bar, which had dropped to 600 after Xu Tianhua's arrest, and didn't know what to say.
From the two drops in the progress bar, it was clear that Xu Chuan and Xu Tianhua had murderous intentions towards the original host and indeed wanted to take action against him. However, they didn't seem to be the most deadly factor for the original host, as although the progress bar had dropped to the safety line, there was still a large portion left untouched.
"Could it be that the kidnapping case and the car accident were not caused by the same culprit?" Shi Jin slumped on the sofa, replaying the ups and downs of his progress bar in his mind.
He rubbed his forehead and thought aloud, "It seems reasonable to assume that most of the fluctuations in the progress bar came from Xu Chuan and Xu Tianhua. Like when we first arrived in B City, the progress bar skyrocketed, and when we met Shi Weichong and the others, it skyrocketed again. Xu Chuan confessed that Xu Tianhua had people watching Shi Weichong's movements. Xu Tianhua was very resentful about being excluded from Ruihang and tried to find my whereabouts. He used me and Shi Weichong to compete, and I got close to Shi Weichong, which also caught Xu Tianhua's attention. Moreover, Xu Tianhua has influence in B City..."
Xiao Si was also analyzing with great effort, saying, "In the plot, the car accident happened when you contacted Shi Xingrui's old connections and wanted to play tricks on Shi Weichong. Xu Tianhua must have wanted you to oppose Shi Weichong, so the car accident shouldn't be his doing."
"So, it's basically confirmed that Xu Tianhua didn't cause the car accident, he had no motive." Shi Jin agreed with Xiao Si's speculation, and flipped through the testimonies of Xu Tianhua and Xu Chuan, feeling more and more confused.
"If it's not Shi Weichong, nor is it Xu Tianhua, then who caused the car accident? Who was stirring up trouble in the muddy waters?"
Xiao Si struggled to think, but unfortunately got stuck.
Shi Jin let out a sigh and emptied his mind, his thoughts drifting aimlessly for a while. Finally, he decisively chose to give up, collected the testimonies, got up and left the room, deciding to go eat with Lian Jun first.
As the Lunar New Year approached, the clubhouse finally had a festive atmosphere. Various New Year's goods were being prepared, and lucky characters were hung up. The dining table was frequently adorned with the presence of dumplings - pan-fried, steamed, and in soup - satisfying everyone's taste buds.
He used his chopsticks to pick up the last three-flavored dumpling and placed it on Lian Jun's plate. He took the initiative to start a conversation, "How's Chen Qing doing? Any updates?"
After deciding to take a conservative approach to saving him, Lian Jun had been waiting patiently, betting that the leader of the Black Rose gang would make a second move after failing to harm him the first time.
Now, almost half a month had passed without any further news from Chen Qing's side. Fortunately, his two children were still being taken care of, indicating that Chen Qing had not been deemed useless and disposed of by the Black Rose gang.
Lian Jun took a glance at the plump dumplings in the dish, but ultimately picked up his chopsticks and ate the three-flavored dumpling. After wiping his mouth, he said, "The leader of the Black Rose is not a reckless person. He will definitely plan his next move after thoroughly confirming that the failed attack last time did not arouse my suspicion. So just wait, he'll act sooner or later."
Shi Jin nodded in understanding, then cautiously suggested, "If Chen Qing asks you out again, can you take me with you?"
Lian Jun turned his head to look at him and shook his head without hesitation, "No, the next meeting with Chen Qing is not just about having a meal. It also involves rescuing him, which may lead to a firefight with the Black Rose. You lack combat experience, I can't bring you along."
Shi Jin refused to give up: "I can stay on the outskirts and not interfere with your actions."
"Then it's completely unnecessary to bring you along. You stay at the club," Lian Jun's tone brooked no refusal.
Shi Jin wanted to argue some more, but Lian Jun reached into the fruit plate and stuffed a piece of honeydew into his mouth. Then he slid his wheelchair away without looking back.
Click clack, click clack.
Shi Jin chewed on the melon, his brow furrowed. He lifted his hand to take the remaining piece out of his mouth and mumbled, "Mm, this melon is pretty sweet..."
Xiao Si: "..."
The next two days, Shi Weichong started calling Shi Jin every day, asking about his plans for the Lunar New Year. After much consideration, Shi Jin politely declined Shi Weichong's invitation to go home for the holiday and expressed his desire to stay at the club with Lian Jun.
This made Shi Weichong so angry that he came over fuming.
When faced with Shi Weichong's direct inquiry, Shi Jin remained unmoved and refused with sound reasoning: "With my identity, how can I go to your house for Chinese New Year? For the past few years, your father has always forced you to go abroad with us during the New Year, never once accompanying your mother and her family. This year, you finally have the chance to spend time with your mother, but if I go, what will your mother think? I won't go, unless you break my legs and drag me there."
Shi Weichong was unable to refute. He did want to spend quality time with his mother this year, but he couldn't bear to leave Shi Jin behind. In this world, he still had relatives on his mother's side, while Shi Jin had lost both parents and was all alone.
When he still wouldn't let go, Shi Jin softened his tone and spoke with concern, "Big brother, I know you're worried about me, but I'll be fine. I have a bunch of people here with me, I'm not alone. You stay home and spend time with your family. I'll send you blessings through text messages, and don't forget to send me a red envelope."
After speaking, he smiled at him, trying to appear relaxed.
The more he smiled, the more Shi Weichong furrowed his brow. Finally, he couldn't help but reach out and pinch his face, saying, "Stop smiling...you'll definitely get a red envelope. You take care, and I'll come visit you."
"I'll definitely take care, and I'll gain a few pounds during the New Year. That's how you know it's really the New Year," Shi Jin said vaguely, pulling his hand down and hugging him. "Big brother, happy New Year, and may every year be peaceful."
Shi Weichong patted his back and sighed in his heart.
In the following days, Shi Jin received phone calls and text messages from Xiang Aoting and Rong Zhouzhong. Like Shi Weichong, Xiang Aoting wanted to invite Shi Jin to spend the Lunar New Year with him, but Shi Jin refused similarly. Rong Zhouzhong only sent a text message with the name of a TV station and the time, indicating that he would be on the live broadcast of the Spring Festival Gala that evening, and Shi Jin could watch it on TV.
Shi Jin replied happily: I'll tune in on time to watch the monkey.
Rong Zhou's reply was still short: Get lost.
Shi Jin collapsed on the sofa with his phone, feeling amused. After he finished laughing, he decided to send a New Year's text message to his two other brothers whom he had never met before.
In the original plot, the attitudes of the second brother, Fei Yujing, and the fifth brother, Li Jiuzheng, towards the original owner were always mysterious.
Fei Yujing, the second brother, was a busy man. Before Shi Xingrui's death, he flew around the world but always made time to visit the original owner. He would take pictures of interesting scenery from around the world and send local specialties to satisfy the original owner's desire for adventure and world travel. He was a good brother who cared despite his busy schedule.
However, after Shi Xingrui's death, Fei Yujing quickly disappeared from the original owner's life. He didn't answer phone calls or messages, and even when he came back a few times because of the original owner's troubles, he always kept his distance. Even when the original owner tried to talk to him, he was cold and distant, looking at the original owner as if they were a stranger, and not one he liked at that.
He had never shown any strong love or hate towards the original owner. When he cared, he was reserved, and when he distanced himself, he did so quickly. It seemed as though he didn't care about the original owner at all, but occasionally he would express a sentiment of "it would be better if this person had never existed in this world."
To him, the original owner was like an ink blot on a document - not particularly disliked, but something he desperately wanted to erase. Unfortunately, this blot couldn't be erased, so he just tried to ignore it as much as possible.