"What do you want to eat, spring rolls or dumplings? Oh, it's okay, I can make both," Shi Jin pulled with all his might, using every bit of strength he had, but his weak body couldn't budge. In the end, he gave up and turned to shout at Lian Jun who was approaching, "Young Master Jun, I want to bring my fifth brother back to celebrate the New Year together, but I can't move him. Can you help me tie him up and take him back?"
Upon hearing this, Li Jiuzheng's eyebrows furrowed even tighter as he pulled his hand away.
As soon as Lian Jun heard Shi Jin's words, his face turned black. Without even looking at Li Jiuzheng, he scanned Shi Jin's sorry figure up and down. He gestured for Number One, who was pushing the wheelchair behind him, to stop and took the blanket off his knee.
Stretching out his legs, he surprisingly stood up and took a few slow steps, stopping when he could reach Shi Jin. He reached out and grabbed Shi Jin's arm, pulling him into a tight embrace.
Shi Jin: "!!!"
"I'll clean you up when we're back," Lian Jun said with a stern face. He pressed Shi Jin's head against his shoulder and wrapped him tightly in the blanket, holding him firmly. He gave Li Jiuzheng a cold glance before turning around and walking towards the wheelchair with Shi Jin.
Without warning, Number Two and the rest emerged from their hiding spots and rushed towards Li Jiuzheng, who was standing still. They quickly subdued him.
As Shi Jin followed Lian Jun's lead, and caught a whiff of the faint scent emanating from him, he was left dumbfounded.
"Lian Jun is walking! He's really walking!" he exclaimed in his mind.
Meanwhile, Xiao Si was on the verge of going insane, saying: "My baby is taller than you! Can you believe it? This is amazing!"
Shi Jin: "..."
He tightened his grip on Lian Jun's clothes and gritted his teeth. "What did you just say, Xiao Si?" he demanded.
Xiao Si froze, pretending to be dead. Seeing that Shi Jin was safe, it withdrew all the buffs it had placed on him to shield him from pain and enhance his physical abilities, allowing his body to rest.
In the next moment, just as Shi Jin was energetically questioning Xiao Si, he suddenly went limp and collapsed into Lian Jun's arms without a word.
Lian Jun stumbled under the sudden weight of his body, quickly steadying himself and lowering his head to find that Shi Jin had fainted. His thin lips tightened as he held onto Shi Jin's hand tightly, carefully placing him in a wheelchair.
Number One quickly reached out to help, settling Shi Jin in the wheelchair. Seeing Lian Jun's pale face and the fine sweat on his forehead from the pain, Number One worriedly called out, "Young Master Jun, you..."
"It's okay, go get another wheelchair," interrupted Lian Jun, his tone still calm but his body slightly bent as he struggled to stand with his hands on the wheelchair armrests. He reached out and touched Shi Jin's face before turning to look at Li Jiuzheng, who was being controlled by Number Two. "Take him back and inform Shi Weichong that both of his brothers have been found. Tell him to come to the military hospital in Rong City to find me."
Number Two nodded and pulled out a gun, pointing it at Li Jiuzheng's back. "Let's go, Mr. Li."
Li Jiuzheng glanced at him sideways, his gaze sweeping over the unconscious Shi Jin in the wheelchair and the obviously unwell Lian Jun. He suppressed his emotions and obediently followed Number Two's direction.
When Shi Jin woke up again, he was greeted by the smell of disinfectant. He opened his eyes and saw four people standing by his bed. He immediately felt hopeless and turned his head, hoping to pass out again.
"You're awake?" came the voice of Lian Jun, soft and cold.
It's coming, it's coming, his punishment was here.
Shi Jin sighed and resignedly turned his head to face Lian Jun, who was closest to him. He forced a smile and flattered him, "Young Master Jun, you look so handsome when you walk. Your broad shoulders, narrow waist, and long legs are perfectly proportioned. You just need to gain some weight, you're too bony when hugged, you need to eat more... "
Lian Jun's expression remained unchanged as he reached out and pinched Shi Jin's mouth to silence him. He sneered, "You talk too much. It seems like you're already feeling better."
Shi Jin felt a chill down his back as he was sneered at. He closed his eyes and coughed, pretending to be in a bad state with exaggerated acting.
Uncle Long, who was standing by, couldn't bear to watch anymore. He pushed away Lian Jun's hand, checked on Shi Jin's condition, and gave him some water. "Don't make a fuss anymore, be careful not to reopen your wound," he said.
Shi Jin immediately calmed down and obediently drank some water. His dry, itchy, and painful throat felt much better. He looked towards the other two people standing further away in the room and called out, "Big Brother, Fifth Brother..."
"Rest well and don't talk for now," Shi Weichong comforted him, then patted the silent Li Jiuzheng next to him.
Li Jiuzheng looked at Shi Jin and said stiffly, "Sorry."
Shi Weichong looked at him dissatisfied.
Li Jiuzheng turned his head away, looking like he didn't want to talk anymore.
Shi Weichong frowned, wanting to say something but holding back. He gave Shi Jin a look that said "I'll give you an explanation later" and pulled Li Jiuzheng out of the hospital room.
Shi Jin widened his eyes to watch the commotion.
Unable to bear it any longer, Lian Jun reached out and pinched Shi Jin's cheek, pulling him towards himself.
Shi Jin was forced to turn his gaze back to Lian Jun, who had a displeased expression. He immediately forgot about watching the excitement and nervously explained, "It's not that I wanted to disobey orders, I was just worried about you. That day, I only planned to go to the neighborhood to see the situation. I didn't intend to get involved in your operation.
"But when I got there, I saw you were in danger. My brain went blank and I acted without thinking. I didn't expect the sniper to target me. After I was injured, I immediately called for help, but unfortunately, I was in so much pain that I dialed the wrong number..."
Lian Jun withdrew his hand and remained silent with a black face.
"I'm sorry, I'll go and receive the punishment myself." Shi Jin lowered his head and hung his eyes, looking pale and weak. He appeared pitiful beyond words.
Lian Jun wanted to scold him, but couldn't bring himself to do it. He frowned at him for a long time before finally blurting out, "You always apologize quickly, but you still make the same mistakes. Do you want me to lock you up?"
Shi Jin awkwardly retorted, "It's not every time..."
"Do you want it to be every time?" Lian Jun asked in response.
His big thigh was angry and seemed to have lost his mind.
Sensing the tension, Shi Jin wisely kept quiet and reached out from under the covers to try and flatter Lian Jun in a roundabout way.
Lian Jun's hand rested on the armrest of his wheelchair, not far from the edge of the bed. Shi Jin struggled to reach it, but he was too weak from hunger.
Lian Jun sat still and watched him struggle. Finally, when he saw that Shi Jin's hand was about to give out, he reached out and grabbed it with great force, saying, "There won't be a next time."
Shi Jin nodded quickly, looking obedient on the surface, but his hand held by Lian Jun was restless, still fidgeting. Eventually, he managed to wriggle his body away and stretched out his arm, placing Lian Jun's hand on his leg and gently pinching it. He asked with concern, "Does your leg hurt?"
Lian Jun stiffened at the pinch, his previously relaxed expression turning dark again. He picked up Shi Jin's hand and stuffed it back under the covers, saying, "Just rest for now. You need to observe your condition before you can eat anything. Endure it for a little longer."
Why did it suddenly turn cloudy again?
Shi Jin felt uneasy and called out, "Young Master Jun, I..."
Lian Jun once again reached out and covered his mouth, looking at him expressionlessly. He said, "Shi Jin, if you can't give a response, don't release your concern recklessly. That's not fair."
After speaking, he withdrew his hand and signaled for Uncle Long to come forward and guard Shi Jin. Then he turned and slid his wheelchair away.
Shi Jin didn't understand what he meant and looked up at Uncle Long, seeking an explanation.
Uncle Long patted him on the head and said, "Don't ask, shut up, and go to sleep."
Uncle Long put on a pair of headphones, took out his phone, and started listening to music.
Shi Jin: "..."
He thought, "Xiao Si, I feel like Uncle Long and Young Master Jun have a secret, but they don't plan on telling me." He turned to Xiao Si to complain.
Xiao Si played a lullaby in his mind.
Shi Jin choked up and was so angry that he fell asleep.
When he woke up, he found that the person sitting next to his bed had changed from Uncle Long to Shi Weichong.
Seeing that he was awake, Shi Weichong came forward and helped him adjust the bed a little, then poured a glass of water with a straw and handed it to him, saying gently, "Drink some water first."
Shi Jin tilted his head and took a sip of water, looking around the room. "Where are the others?" he asked.
"They went to do other things," Shi Weichong replied. He then lifted the bed table and took out a bowl of vegetable porridge and a few side dishes from the thermos on the bedside table. As he set the tableware for Shi Jin, he said, "Have some food first to fill your stomach. If you need to use the bathroom, let me know and I'll help you there."
Shi Jin only had a shoulder injury, and his lack of energy earlier was due to a fever. Now that the high fever had subsided and he had slept well, he was feeling much better. He smiled and said, "I don't need you to help me. It's not like I have a life-threatening injury."
Shi Weichong didn't say anything, his face tense. After setting everything up for Shi Jin, he sat down on the bed and said, "Let's eat first, and then we'll talk."
When Shi Jin saw his expression, he sighed inwardly, knowing that he couldn't avoid this scolding. He obediently picked up his spoon.
After eating and drinking his fill, Shi Jin's complexion improved slightly. Shi Weichong noticed and his expression also improved.
Shi Weichong got up to help Shi Jin tidy up the table. After settling him down, he sat back down and prepared to speak. "Xiao Jin, Lian Jun has already told me everything about your injury. You were too reckless."
Shi Jin obediently apologized, "I'm sorry, brother. I made you worry."
"No, you haven't done anything wrong to me," Shi Weichong tucked in his blanket and fell silent for a while before continuing, "I've talked to Jiuzheng about it, and he promised not to cause trouble for you anymore. It's my fault for neglecting him lately. I didn't even know when his mother passed away and let him get stuck in his own thoughts. And you...I'm not a good brother, Xiao Jin. I should be the one apologizing to you. I'm sorry."
Shi Jin frowned and called out, "Big brother."
"I don't deserve to be your big brother," Shi Weichong lowered his eyes, his face showing exhaustion. "There are some things you probably don't know...Although Shi Xingrui abandoned our mother and my younger brother, he gave them a large sum of money as compensation for raising us."
Shi Jin was stunned and sat up straight unconsciously.
"It's not just about money. All of our mothers have received some form of assistance from Shi Xingrui's resources. He invested in us like a business, and was never stingy with his money...but that changed after you were born. When we noticed that Shi Xingrui was favoring you and directing all of his resources towards you, our mothers secretly gathered and made a pact. Since then, we have learned to 'love' you as our little brother, under the guidance of our respective mothers.
"Shi Xingrui also began allocating resources to us based on our level of closeness to you...it's a trade, an unspoken agreement among us all. It's a deal that only second brother and I know about, while our third, fourth, and fifth brothers remain unaware." Shi Jin was stunned, completely unaware of the hidden secrets within.
Shi Weichong looked into his eyes, as if seeing a despicable and hypocritical version of himself, his tone somewhat strained. "In the first few years, we were all still young. We did whatever our mother told us to do. But as we grew older, we each had our own thoughts and pursuits, and wanted to change the situation. However, I stopped them."
Shi Jin asked, "Why?"
"Because I needed to be close to Shi Xingrui. I wanted to get revenge on him... There were too many of my own selfish interests involved, and everyone was tied to the ship of revenge against Shi Xingrui. You were used as a tool to get close to him, and the play of brotherly love and respect continued."
As Shi Weichong spoke, his expression gradually became gloomy, with a hint of self-mockery. He said, "Everyone could have been liberated long ago. Shi Xingrui had become less ambitious as he got older. Except for you, he doesn't even care about business. Everyone had grown up and could stand on their own. They didn't need to fear or rely on Shi Xingrui's power anymore. They had the capital to break free from his shadow.
"But I forced them to continue to be trapped in this game, leading them into a dead end. Jiuzheng's behavior this time got out of control, and I have to take half of the responsibility. Now I am extremely grateful that Shi Xingrui died before I could take action. Otherwise, I might have dragged everyone into a deeper nightmare."
Shi Jin's heart skipped a beat as he listened and asked, "What would you have done if Shi Xingrui hadn't died?"
Shi Weichong looked up at him and replied, word by word, "Take away everything he had, trample him into the dust, and then destroy the thing he treasures most, so that he will live the rest of his life in agony."
The thing he treasured most... wasn't that the original owner?
Shi Jin sat back on the bed, staring at Shi Weichong. Never before had he realized so clearly that the person sitting in front of him was a murderer, even if it was only a possibility, a potential threat.
This person, whom the original owner relied on as an older brother, never actually treated the original owner as a younger brother. Shi Jin's previous speculation that Shi Weichong simply didn't like the original owner was now completely wishful thinking.
"Shi Xingrui really treated you badly and even abandoned your mother. I understand if you want to seek revenge, but what did I do wrong?" He asked, no longer acting but genuinely feeling sorry and unjust for the original owner.
The original owner was just born and appeared in this world passively. In his short life, the worst thing he did was to contact his father's old subordinates and try to hinder Shi Weichong.
He died before he even turned twenty. For the first seventeen years of his life, he lived under his father's strict protection and never did anything wrong. The year he became an adult, he lost his father, his looks, and his freedom. He cruelly discovered that his previous life was just a fabricated illusion. After becoming an adult, he even lost his life.
Even if he had some bad habits, such as being arrogant because of his being favoured or not being considerate of his older brothers, did he really deserve to pay with his life for these mistakes? He may not be outstanding, but he wasn't a bad younger brother.
Faced with his questioning, Shi Weichong fell silent again, then reached out and touched his face, saying, "You didn't do anything wrong, it's my fault, I don't deserve to be your big brother."
Shi Jin turned his head away from his hand - what Shi Weichong said was too utilitarian and subversive of his understanding. From the perspective of the original owner, he couldn't accept Shi Weichong's concern at this moment.
Shi Weichong's expression darkened. He slowly clenched his fist and withdrew it, standing up and saying, "You rest... I will talk to Old Fifth and the others and make sure they won't disturb you again. If you don't want to recognize me as your brother anymore, I will respect your wishes... Xiao Jin, I'm sorry."
After speaking, he paused for two seconds in place, seeing that Shi Jin didn't respond, he bent down to pick up the coat draped over the chair, turned around and left.
After he left, Shi Jin looked towards the door of the hospital room with a complex mood, and stayed there for a while before coming back to his senses. He let out a sigh and slumped onto the chair, pulling the blanket over his face.
Xiao Si was a little worried and called out, "Jin Jin..."
"I'm fine," said Shi Jin, his voice muffled. "To be honest, I'm just a confused outsider who stumbled into the affairs of the Shi family. I have no right to judge anything... Xiao Si, I think I've been overthinking things. Am I too obsessed with the progress bar?"
"No," Xiao Si replied. Seeing him so down, it couldn't help but blame itself and said, "I'm sorry, Jin Jin. I'm the one who brought you into this world."
Shi Jin shook his head and didn't say anything. He closed his eyes and recalled everything he had experienced since his rebirth, letting out a heavy sigh.
Not long after, Number Two pushed open the door and took over Shi Weichong's watch over Shi Jin.
After chatting with him for a while, Shi Jin learned that he was currently staying in a military hospital in Rong City. The reason why Lian Jun and the others hadn't come to see him yet was because Lian Jun had also fallen ill, and the others were helping out over there.
Upon hearing this, Shi Jin furrowed his brows and immediately got up from the bed, anxiously asking, "How is he? I want to go see him."
"What's the point of going to see him? Young Master Jun is already asleep. He just caught a cold and didn't get enough rest. He just needs some IV fluids and a good night's sleep," Number Two pushed him back onto the bed and gave him a pat on the head.
He sighed and said, "You, just be honest when you're injured. You're still looking for trouble even at this age. Get better soon, or Young Master Jun will worry endlessly about you."
With a furrowed brow, Shi Jin lay back and deeply recognized his mistake. His face fell as he said, "I won't act impulsively like that again. I'm sorry."
Seeing him like this, Number Two couldn't bear to say anything more and comforted him, "It's okay, don't think too much about it. Actually, it's thanks to you that day, otherwise there would have been casualties on our side. Although Number One intentionally parked the car to avoid most of the sniper's attack angles, there were still other people on the street. If the enemy opened fire, it would have been impossible to avoid accidental injuries."
"You don't have to comfort me." Shi Jin sighed and stared at the bleak ceiling for a while before suddenly asking, "Number Two, am I too impulsive?"
Number Two covered his face with a blanket and said, "I've already told you not to think too much. You're doing fine... Rest up and get better soon, once we're on the island let's go crabbing."
Shi Jin couldn't muster up any emotions and just nudged him through the blanket before closing his eyes.
After that day, Shi Jin never saw Shi Weichong again.
According to Number One, Shi Weichong was still in the hospital and would visit the doctor every day to check on his condition. Even Li Jiuzheng was there, but both of them never came to the ward again.
Shi Jin thought about the twists and turns in the plot and glanced at the progress bar that had dropped to 500. He didn't actively seek them out.
The next day, when Lian Jun's health had improved a bit, he came to the hospital room to keep Shi Jin company. Although his complexion looked fine, the bit of flesh he had gained during this time had completely disappeared, which broke Shi Jin's heart.
Worried that Lian Jun would stay in the hospital for too long and be affected by the illness, Shi Jin actively cooperated with the treatment. After a week, he was bouncing around again and clamoring to be discharged.
But Lian Jun insisted on staying in the hospital for a full seven days to make sure everything was okay before finally being discharged. On the way back, he was afraid that Shi Jin's wounds couldn't handle the stress of flying, so he gave up the convenience of a plane and rented a motorhome to drive back to B City.
On the day of departure, Shi Jin bought a bunch of dumplings and spring rolls and had them sent to Li Jiuzheng's private hospital, fulfilling his promise from before.
In the afternoon, everyone boarded the RV outside the hospital. Shi Jin was bored and absentmindedly looked out the window. But then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw Shi Weichong and Li Jiuzheng standing side by side in front of a fruit shop across the street, both looking over at them.
He hesitated for a moment, but then raised his hand to wave goodbye and mouthed the words 'see you again' before closing the curtains of the RV.
Actually, he should have realized it long ago. He wasn't the original owner, so why bother getting involved in these fake brotherhoods? He struggled in this world just to survive and clear the progress bar.
Now that he's pretty sure that the five brothers were not the ones who had ill intentions towards the original owner, and therefore towards them, he doesn't need to care too much about the authenticity of certain emotions. Those bits and pieces of survival factors that he fought for are gone, but he still has a ready-made golden thigh by his side.
With that in mind, he shifted his gaze to Lian Jun, who was reading across from him. He reached out and pressed down on his book page, took out his tablet, and said, "Young Master Jun, let's play a game. If I win, will you help me check something?"
As Lian Jun watched his hand come down, his gaze swept over the needle marks on the back of it. He put down the documents and looked up at him, asking, "What if you lose?"
Shi Jin smiled, his eyes and eyebrows curved, with a hint of lewdness. "Then I'll give you a massage every day. Let me tell you, my massage skills are at the master level. Ordinary people can't enjoy it!"
The real master Xiao Si: "Hmph."
Lian Jun looked at him for a few seconds, and actually put down the book, saying, "Okay."
Shi Jin was overjoyed and eagerly brought out a tablet, opened the mahjong app, and handed it to him.