Unlike his second brother Fei Yujing, his fifth brother Li Jiuzheng had more contact with the original host after Shi Xingrui's death.
Li Jiuzheng was a young genius who started studying medicine at a young age. Although he wasn't as restless as Fei Yujing, his level of busyness was just as high. For half of the year, he was either catching up on coursework or doing research. Nine out of ten times, his phone was off when you tried to call him.
Later on, he opened his own private hospital, and although his phone was now reachable, it was difficult to schedule a meeting with him. He always had critically ill patients to save, and his answer to when he would be free was always a no. Out of the five brothers, he had the weakest presence, and his concern for the original owner was expressed in the strangest way.
Every time they met, he would give the original owner some strange little gadgets he had researched himself, and he would actively help with his studies, appearing very attentive and considerate. However, outside of tutoring, he never took the initiative to speak to the original owner. In his spare time, he would always be reading a book, inadvertently isolating himself from the rest of the group.
He was a man of few words, enjoyed peace and quiet, and never actively participated in anything. He went with the flow and silently drifted outside of the group, like a ghost that appeared and disappeared from time to time.
The original host had complicated feelings towards his fifth brother. He loved all the strange, mysterious, and exquisite little trinkets that his fifth brother gave him, secretly thinking that his fifth brother was very impressive and even idolizing him. But at the same time, he was also afraid of his fifth brother.
Countless times during their study sessions, when he struggled to solve a problem and sought affirmation from his fifth brother, he would find his fifth brother sitting quietly in the corner, staring at him with a very strange look in his eyes.
At the time, the original host did not understand the meaning behind those eyes. He thought that Li Jiuzheng was just lost in thought as usual. It wasn't until he was disfigured and had a car accident, and was sent twice to Li Jiuzheng's private hospital, that he began to understand what those eyes represented - a hint of murderous intent, not strong, but always present.
During the time when the original owner was suffering and waiting for death after the car accident, Li Jiuzheng would always appear at the bedside at some strange times, doing nothing but silently watching the original owner. Occasionally, his hand would rest on the machines that were keeping the original owner alive, and his desire to turn them off was so obvious.
This was the deepest nightmare of the original owner, and the reason why he blamed everything on his five older brothers - seeing their murderous intent with his own eyes was always more terrifying than an unknown killer.
Buzz buzz buzz.
Suddenly, his phone vibrated and a text message came in.
Shi Jin snapped out of his memories of the plot, picked up his phone and was surprised to find that both of the New Year's messages he had just sent out had received responses, one after the other, as if the two people who replied had made an appointment.
Fei Yujing: Who is this?
Li Jiuzheng: Thank you.
Shi Jin paused for a moment, realizing that Fei Yujing and Li Jiuzheng didn't know his current phone number. He had forgotten to sign his name in the text he just sent, so he quickly sent another message identifying himself.
However, there was no response from Fei Yujing, and Shi Jin had already anticipated this. He even suspected that Fei Yujing had blocked his number.
On the other hand, Li Jiuzheng quickly replied with a short message containing only one word: Oh.
Staring at the word, Shi Jin couldn't help but imagine Li Jiuzheng standing like a ghost by the original owner's sickbed. He shuddered and quickly closed the message app, burying himself under the covers and playing a game of mahjong to calm his nerves.
He was now certain that a portion of the deadly factor in his remaining progress bar of 600 came from Li Jiuzheng. He needed to plan how to deal with this fifth brother.
On New Year's Eve, Shi Jin arrived early and sat across from Lian Jun, dressed in thick clothing and staring at him without saying a word.
Lian Jun couldn't concentrate on his documents anymore and looked up at him, saying, "If you want to go to your brother's for the New Year, you can leave now. Let Number Two take you there. Remember to keep your phone on and report your safety every night. You must be back before the seventh day. After dealing with Chen Qing's affairs, we will prepare to leave B City, so we must prepare early."
Shi Jin listened intently, shaking his head and saying, "No, I'm not going to my brother's place. I'll stay here and celebrate the New Year with you. I already told my brother about it."
Lian Jun's eyes flickered as he asked, "You already told him?"
"Yeah, my older brother and I agreed on it when he came to visit me last time. Didn't I tell you about it during dinner that day?" Shi Jin replied, then leaned on the desk and continued to stare at Lian Jun with a clearly suggestive look.
Lian Jun's tense voice slowly relaxed as he put down his documents and said, "I forgot... What do you want to do dressed like that?"
"The snow outside has stopped," Shi Jin pointed to the window.
Suddenly, Lian Jun followed his train of thought, looked out the window, and asked, "So?"
"So, today is Chinese New Year's Eve. Can you take a break from work? Let's go build a snowman and have some fun. I've already prepared a scarf and hat for the snowman, and look, there's a carrot we can use for its nose!" Shi Jin pulled out the things he had prepared eagerly, looking at Lian Jun with hopeful eyes.
Lian Jun glanced at the carrot in Shi Jin's hand, which was washed clean and had a distinctive shape. A faint smile appeared on his lips, but he quickly suppressed it and picked up the documents again, saying coldly, "You can go by yourself. I'm very busy."
Shi Jin placed the carrot on the table and continued to stare straight at Lian Jun. It wasn't his fault for being so childish and shameless. It was because Xiao Si had painted such a miserable picture of Lian Jun last night.
Xiao Si had said that Lian Jun had always been weak since he was young. He had to go to warm places during winter and had never seen snow or built a snowman. His life lacked a lot of fun and left behind many regrets. Xiao Si had said that if Lian Jun could see more beautiful things, perhaps his mental state would improve and he could face life more positively and adjust his physical condition.
Faced with Xiao Si's poetic and sorrowful words, what else could Shi Jin say? Of course, he immediately went to the kitchen and washed a carrot, promising to make it up to Lian Jun tomorrow by reliving his childhood. He even offered his own scarf and hat - thanks to his bald days, he had quite a few hats.
As Lian Jun looked at the documents, Shi Jin looked at him, and the study was very quiet.
After ten minutes, Shi Jin softly spoke up: "You haven't even looked at the documents. Normally, you flip through them every five minutes. Now ten minutes have passed, and you're still on the same page."
Lian Jun's hand holding the documents stiffened, and he looked up at Shi Jin.
Shi Jin suddenly produced a thick coat and a thick blanket, gesturing towards the world outside the window covered in white snow, his eyes full of encouragement.
Lian Jun lowered his eyes, put down the documents, and slid out without moving or speaking.
Shi Jin's eyes lit up, and he happily helped Lian Jun put on the thick coat and cover him with the thick blanket, saying, "Don't worry, you won't freeze. You stay indoors and watch, I'll go shovel. If there's anything not done well, you tell me and I'll fix it."
"Don't play for too long," warned Lian Jun as he wrapped himself in a blanket. "It's windy outside today."
"I'm not afraid of the cold," replied Shi Jin cheerfully, as he bundled up Lian Jun and pushed him out the door at a brisk pace.
The entire sixth floor watched as Shi Jin whisked Lian Jun through the hallway like a kidnapped victim, into the elevator, and down to the first floor, laughing like a mouse who had just stolen a bag of rice.
"What are they up to?" asked Number Two, looking mystified.
Number One remained silent, setting down the red envelope he was wrapping and standing up. "Let's go see," he said.
Number Three and Number Five immediately followed suit, abandoning their tasks and standing up.
The three of them quickly disappeared from sight, leaving Number Two behind. He looked at Number Nine, who was slumped on the couch, and poked him with his hand. "Why aren't you going?" he asked.
"I'm not hungry*," Number Nine said with half-opened eyes, his voice slurred, looking like he was talking in his sleep.
*T/N: Not hungry for the dog food from this pair.
Number Two silently watched him and surprisingly understood the meaning behind his words. He stood up and said, "I'm hungry," then turned and ran towards the elevator, afraid of missing an important scene.
Outside, the wind was indeed strong, blowing the trees in the courtyard crookedly. The snow on the branches was blown away.
Shi Jin arrived on the first floor and chose a lounge facing the courtyard. He settled Lian Jun in front of the floor-to-ceiling windows, placed a pile of snacks in front of him, and brewed a cup of hot milk tea. Then he left the room with great momentum... and quickly came back frozen.
Lian Jun looked at him as if he was watching a foolish child who knew the outside world was dangerous but stubbornly insisted on going out to play for the sake of face. "Let's just forget it," he said, setting down his milk tea and giving Shi Jin a way out.
"But it only happens once a year, how can we just forget it? I'm just not used to such strong winds..." Shi Jin argued, twisting his neck and afraid his face would freeze, he put on a mask and took a deep breath. With the determination of a hero, he stepped out of the house again, quickly closed the window, and ran into the snow-covered yard.
The yard of the club was very large, with a big flat area in the middle. At this moment, the ground was covered with a thick layer of white snow, soft and fluffy like a piece of cream cake.
"So this is what winter in the north is like..." Shi Jin stood in the snow, tears streaming down his face. His hometown was located in a relatively southern region. Although it snowed in the winter, it had never been this heavy, and the temperature had never dropped so low. During this time, he had been surrounded by heating, and subconsciously developed a small misunderstanding about the winter in B city. Now that he was out, he felt like even his poop was going to freeze solid.
Xiao Si didn't expect him to be so intolerant to the cold. He regretted encouraging him to build a snowman and said, "Why don't we go back? The temperature has been unusually low these days, and you might catch a cold."
"It's okay, just give me a buff, and besides, I haven't built a snowman in years. Seeing such thick snow makes me itch to do it," Shi Jin'an reassured him. He took a few steps to the side, squeezed out a smile through the French window, waved to Lian Jun, and then turned and ran to the middle of the yard.
Xiao Si's buff took effect quickly. After a little movement, Shi Jin felt that his body wasn't as cold anymore. He took off his mask and began to truly enjoy building a snowman.
He didn't plan on making a fancy snowman, just one that would fit the occasion. So, he first rolled a big, round snowball for the body and placed it in the middle of the yard. Then, he rolled a slightly smaller snowball and ran inside with it.
Lian Jun slid his wheelchair over and helped him inside. Despite the cold wind blowing in, he didn't mind and went straight to touch Shi Jin's face. He frowned and said, "It's too cold, let's forget about it."
"It's not cold, I'm actually a little hot," said Shi Jin as he turned around and closed the window a little bit, took off his gloves, and pulled out a carrot and two buttons to hand to Lian Jun. "Here, the snowman's nose and eyes are your responsibility now. This way, we can say we built it together."
Lian Jun was stunned, looking at the buttons and carrot without moving.
"Hurry, the heater inside is too strong. If we wait too long, the snowman's head will melt," urged Shi Jin, gently touching the snowman's head in his arms as if afraid it would really melt.
Lian Jun looked up at him and scanned his frozen red cheeks and nose. He pursed his lips and took the buttons and carrot, clumsily pressing them onto the snowman's face. He wasn't used to the hard texture of the snow after it had frozen together, and accidentally poked a hole in the snowman's head when he tried to button it up.
"It's okay, we can fix it with some snow later." Shi Jin wiped away the hole and picked up the button, handing it back to Lian Jun.
Their fingertips touched, one cold and one icy. Lian Jun reflexively held Shi Jin's hand, but realized he couldn't warm it up. He slowly let go and placed the button back in its place. "It's done," he said.
"Your skills are pretty good, Young Master Jun. The features are so distinctive. Just wait, I'll go put them together," said Shi Jin, feeling pleased. He carefully picked up the snowball and ran outside, placing it on top of the well-formed snowman. Then, he picked up some loose snowflakes and filled in the uneven parts of the snowman. After he had smoothed out the entire snowman, he happily put a hat and scarf on it.
After finishing, he stepped back to admire his work. He felt that the snowman's body looked too bare, so he went to pick up two tree branches with forks and inserted them into the snowman's body, giving it two hands. With a round body, bald arms, and a small hat on top of his big head, the snowman had a big nose under his small eyes.
Shi Jin couldn't help but be amused by this cute and ugly snowman. He turned around and looked inside the house, where Lian Jun was staring straight at him. He smiled and waved at him, pointing to the snowman's round belly, hinting that Lian Jun should eat more and become as plump as the snowman.
Lian Jun directly opened the French window and slid out.
Shi Jin was startled and rushed up to him, standing in the wind to shield him. "Why did you come out?" he asked anxiously.
"There was fog on the glass, and I couldn't see clearly," Lian Jun replied. After taking a few more glances at the snowman, he reached out and held Shi Jin's hand, sliding the wheelchair with his other hand. "Let's go inside, the wind is getting stronger."
Shi Jin responded with a grunt and went behind him to help push the wheelchair. His hand, which was held by Lian Jun, was unknowingly pulled away.
Lian Jun's hand was left empty as he watched Shi Jin's reflection through the French windows. He slowly withdrew his hand and let Shi Jin push him into the house.
Number Two, who was hiding at the door, had a complicated expression on his face. He sighed, "No wonder Shi Jin can make his dreams come true. He has so many weird ideas every day... Just now, the expression on Young Master Jun's face when he saw the snowman... sigh, I feel like crying. And to think that Young Master Jun is even younger than us."
Number Three and Number Five didn't say anything in response, their expressions somewhat dim - after so many years, what kind of life their Young Master Jun had been living, they knew better than anyone.
"Let's go," Number One spoke up, turning around first. "At least we can have a good year this year. Let's make the reunion dinner tonight more sumptuous by having the kitchen prepare more dishes."
After building the snowman, Lian Jun and Shi Jin decided to stay in the cozy lounge facing the courtyard. They set up a table of snacks and brewed a pot of hot drink, enjoying the view of the snowman while playing mahjong.
Shi Jin was delighted when Lian Jun suggested playing games to relax. He even brought two tablets and downloaded the mahjong app, giving his account with plenty of game coins to Lian Jun and creating a new one for himself. He patiently taught Lian Jun how to play mahjong.
Lian Jun quickly got the hang of it and soon led Shi Jin to victory. Shi Jin was so happy that he slapped his thigh and hugged the pillow, his mahjong personality emerging as he excitedly felt ten years younger.
This was supposed to be a rare and heartwarming reunion during the New Year, but unfortunately, things didn't go as planned. In the late afternoon, Chen Qing called, inviting Lian Jun to dinner once again as an old friend.
The invitation would seem strange coming from anyone else, especially during the Lunar New Year when most people would be spending time with their families. But for Lian Jun, who lived alone, it was a thoughtful gesture from his old friend Chen Qing to invite him to dinner.
Lian Jun initially pretended to decline, suggesting that if Chen Qing was also alone, they could celebrate the holiday together at the club.
However, Chen Qing insisted, saying that he had borrowed a friend's house and prepared a feast for Lian Jun to enjoy. He also hinted at a secret related to a task they had worked on together in the past.
With this, Lian Jun accepted the invitation and asked for Chen Qing's address, promising to arrive on time.
The phone call ended, and the game of mahjong in Shi Jin's hand had been taken over by the mahjong system due to not playing for too long. He was sure to lose.
Frowning, he said, "The restaurant is in a residential area with many unrelated people and complex terrain. It's easy to get in but difficult to get out. I wouldn't recommend for you to go. Besides, it's already almost five o'clock, and they made the appointment for six. We don't have enough time to prepare."
Lian Jun put down his phone and sent a message to Number One to come. He reassured Shi Jin, "An hour is enough time to plant our people there. Don't worry."
"But what if this is just a trap? Chen Qing may not even be in that residential building. If you go, you may not only fail to save him but also put yourself in danger," Shi Jin still wasn't at ease.
"I'll have Chen Qing come down to pick me up, I won't go up by myself. I've also made arrangements for the Black Rose's hideout. Even if things don't go as planned and they attack us, we won't lose. Don't worry," reassured Lian Jun as he prepared to leave in his wheelchair.
Shi Jin held onto the handles of the wheelchair, his face tense as he said, "I'll go with you."
Lian Jun turned his head to look at him, his expression softening. He suddenly reached out and touched Shi Jin's head, saying, "You stay at the club, I'll come back early to celebrate the New Year with you."
Shi Jin still felt uneasy and shook his head, insisting, "I'll go with you. I can't let you go alone."
"I won't be alone, they will all accompany me." Despite Lian Jun's refusal, he saw the worry on Shi's face and leaned in for a shallow embrace, patting his back gently and saying, "Stay at the club and behave."
With that, he stepped back and saw Number One appear at the door. He lightly pulled away from Shi Jin's hand on the wheelchair and went towards Number One.
Number One approached and supported Lian Jun's wheelchair. He exchanged a glance with Shi Jin and nodded towards him before pushing Lian Jun away.
The previously warm and lively lounge quickly became deserted. Shi Jin was not giving up and wanted to find Lian Jun, but was stopped by Number Nine, who appeared out of nowhere. He warned Shi Jin that if he insisted on disobeying orders, he would have to lock him up.
Shi Jin knew that Number Nine was serious, and he returned to the sixth floor with a heavy heart. He watched everyone bustling around, preparing various things, feeling completely useless. Finally, he watched as Lian Jun, who had changed his clothes, was pushed into the elevator by Number Two and went to the underground parking lot.
"Remember to eat well," Lian Jun even reminded him before leaving.
Shi Jin couldn't even think about eating. After everyone left, he sat alone at the big dining table that was prepared for the New Year's Eve dinner. He watched as the progress bar slowly increased after Lian Jun left the club, feeling anxious and restless.
"Don't worry Jin Jin, Baby must have made his preparations," Xiao Si tried to comfort him.
"I know," sighed Shi Jin as he stared at Lian Jun's progress bar. Finally, when the value reached 800, he couldn't help but sit up and grit his teeth, saying, "I can't just sit back and watch. Lian Jun's death judgment method for the progress bar is different from mine. I have to make sure that when his progress bar reaches the death penalty, I'm nearby."
Xiao Si asked, "What do you want to do, Jin Jin?"
"Since Lian Jun didn't want me to follow him, I won't. They've been gone for a while now, and if I rush over there, I might disrupt Lian Jun's plan. But then again, I don't necessarily have to be beside Lian Jun to protect him."
Shi Jin strode back to his room, grabbed his weapons, and after some thought, he also tucked the chicken leg pendant that Lian Jun gave him into his pocket. Finally, he dug out the doll costume he had prepared for the New Year and stuffed it into his backpack - it was something Xiao Si had encouraged him to buy, originally intended as a surprise for Lian Jun on New Year's Eve.
Looking back now, he realized he had put in a lot of effort to make up for Lian Jun's lost childhood.
When Xiao Si saw him with the costume, it was dumbfounded and asked, "J-Jin Jin, what are you going to do with that?"
"I won't interfere with their rescue plan. I'll just go to the neighborhood where they're at and give out some candy. It's the New Year, who can't have a little hobby?"
Shi Jin found a noble excuse for his disobedience, packed his backpack, and sent a New Year's greeting message to all his brothers in advance. As he walked towards the club, he muttered, "I can't eat a whole family dinner by myself anyway. I'm going to crash a hundred households!"
Xiao Si: "..."