Shi Jin deeply regretted the bet he made with Lian Jun.
"I shouldn't have done it. How could I lose? I counted all the cards," he lamented with a bitter expression on his face.
Xiao Si tried to console him, "Even masters make mistakes sometimes. It's normal."
"But I lost. Now I have no reason to ask Young Master Jun to investigate the backgrounds of the five brothers from the Shi family," Shi Jin sighed dejectedly.
Xiao Si, with its innocent and cheerful demeanor, suggested, "Why don't you just ask him to help you investigate? I'm sure he'll be happy to help."
"But then I'll owe him a favor. How can I force him to eat and drink with me in the future with a clear conscience?" Shi Jin thought deeply and also thought far ahead.
Xiao Si fell silent, then spoke softly: "But when have you ever backed down from being direct and confident, even when you make mistakes and face punishment...?"
"What are you muttering about!" Shi Jin's tone was ominous.
Without hesitation, Xiao Si grabbed its own throat and enthusiastically suggested, "You can just compete with Baby again, and after your loss this time, you'll definitely win next time! Come on, Jin Jin, you can do it! I believe in you!"
Shi Jin felt that it made sense and a spark of hope reignited in his heart. He declared, "Yes, with my skills, losing once was just a fluke. I'll definitely win next time!" With that, he grabbed his tablet and eagerly joined Lian Jun's side.
Ten minutes later, he returned to his own seat with his tablet, sighing heavily. "The dealing system must be targeting me. Why is it that Lian Jun always gets the cards he wants, while I'm stuck with ones I don't want? Now I have to make Lian Jun a birthday cake every year... Wait, when is his birthday again?"
Xiao Si answered quickly, "Late March. He's a baby born with the scent of spring."
Shi Jin was taken aback and checked his calendar on his phone. He realized that Lian Jun's birthday was coming up soon - with the Chinese New Year being later this year, it was already almost the end of February. After doing the math, he realized that there was less than a month until his birthday.
Xiao Si continued happily, "So Jin Jin you can start learning how to bake now, if you start now, by the time it's the baby's birthday, your cake should look pretty good."
As Shi Jin listened, he became more suspicious. Xiao Si's tone was too excited and confident, as if it had known all along. He furrowed his brow and thought about the two rounds of cards, as well as Xiao Si's betting advice. Finally, he figured it out and gritted his teeth, "Xiao Si, did you cheat? Did you manipulate the dealing system to give me bad cards on purpose?"
Xiao Si was startled and stammered, "N-no, I didn't. How could I do such a terrible thing? Jin Jin, of course I'm on your side. I love you so much, you're my little baby."
Shi Jin was so annoyed by it that he got goosebumps all over his body. He was more certain than ever that it was up to no good. He said angrily, "I may be your little baby, but Lian Jun is your big baby. You're so biased!"
"I'm not!" Xiao Si argued.
"You are!" Shi Jin was so angry that he almost slammed the table.
The other people in the RV saw Shi Jin, who had lost the card game, huddled in the corner with a twisted face, blaming the tablet for all the losses and looking like he wanted to eat it raw.
Number Two couldn't stand it anymore and said with a face full of judgement, "Is his brain really not damaged? Why does he look even more stupid?"
Number Three and Number Five also looked like they couldn't stand it, wanting to say something but closing their mouths and secretly glancing at Lian Jun.
After finishing the serious discussion with Number One, Lian Jun turned his head towards Shi Jin and pressed on the armrest of his wheelchair, then slid over to Shi Jin's side. Lian Jun reached out and took the tablet from Shi Jin's hand, saying, "Let's have another game. If I win, you have to pick up your studies again. If I lose, I'll agree to your previous request."
Shi Jin snapped out of his argument with Xiao Si and his eyes lit up at Lian Jun's proposal. But then he furrowed his brows and asked, "Studies? What studies?"
Lian Jun had already opened the mahjong app and replied, "Your high school studies."
"High school studies?" Shi Jin was confused.
What high school studies? He had graduated from university many years ago, how could he remember what he learned in high school? And why would he even bother picking it up again?
Xiao Si kindly reminded him, "The original owner was only 18 years old when you were reborn. At that time, the original owner had not yet graduated from high school. Later, you dropped out of school, so technically, you only have a junior high school diploma now."
Shi Jin: "..."
Xiao Si continued to add cuttingly, "None of the people under Baby's command have a degree lower than a university degree. The highest educated one, Number Nine, has a double Ph.D."
Shi Jin: "..." Oh my god, why do you have to have an education to be in the black society?
"Are you in or not?" Lian Jun didn't waste any more words with him, placing the tablet with the open software in front of him and emphasizing, "You only have one chance."
Upon hearing this, Shi Jin's heart tightened as he struggled with a difficult decision. Eventually, he nodded and gritted his teeth, saying, "Deal!" Meanwhile, he sternly warned Xiao Si in his mind not to cheat for Lian Jun again. He refused to believe that he could lose again without Xiao Si's interference!
As it turned out, when someone is unlucky, the system really does seem to target them relentlessly.
Feeling hopeless, Shi Jin slumped in his chair and contemplated uninstalling the mahjong app.
Number Two, who had been watching the whole scene unfold, couldn't help but burst out laughing. "This is too tragic! How dare you gamble with Young Master Jun? Shi Jin, you're too naive."
"As long as you pick up your studies again, I can help you with something," Lian Jun placed his tablet back on the table and asked, "What do you want me to look up for you?"
Shi Jin sat up abruptly and looked at him suspiciously, as if he had misheard something. Lian Jun propped up his chin with his hand and looked at Shi Jin's silly expression. His eyebrows and eyes slightly relaxed as he gently asked again, "Shi Jin, what do you want me to help you investigate?"
The sunlight shining through the window illuminated the handsome man sitting in it, who was still tilting his head and smiling!
Shi Jin was stunned by Lian Jun's lazy and contented appearance. After coming back to his senses, he pounced on Lian Jun's leg and excitedly said, "Help me investigate the situation of my brothers and their families, the more specific the better! Young Master Jun, you are truly a good person!"
Lian Jun was pushed back slightly by Shi Jin's pounce. His eyebrows raised slightly as he reached out and pressed his forehead, slowly pushing him back and sliding his wheelchair back to Number One's side.
Shi Jin took advantage of the situation and leaned back in his chair, feeling very pleased, "Young Master Jun is indeed a good person..."
Xiao Si pityingly touched his brain that was lacking nutrition and automatically pulled up his high school textbook, kindly saying, "Here, take a look."
Shi Jin: "..." Suddenly felt like crying.
After returning to B City, Lian Jun spent two days working with the authorities to deal with the remnants and hideouts of the Black Rose left in B City. Then, with great effort, he suppressed most of the Black Rose's remaining businesses and initiated a campaign to eradicate them.
Shi Jin was very puzzled about this and grabbed Number Two to ask, "Didn't Young Master Jun say that it's not yet time to move against the Black Rose? He also said that this time we're only planning to give them a small punishment. Why are we suddenly making such a big move?"
Number Two looked at him strangely and asked, "Don't you know?"
Shi Jin shook his head and furrowed his brow, "If none of you are going to tell me, how am I supposed to know?"
"Well, you don't need to know," Number Two turned around and walked away.
Shi Jin forcefully pulled him back, glaring at him.
Number Two sighed and looked up at the sky before explaining, "We went after the Black Rose because they went too far this time and angered Young Master Jun. They were also foolish enough to give him an excuse to deal with them. Starting a fight outside of the residential area on New Year's Eve, what charges do you think the authorities can press against them?"
"What charges? Gathering to start a fight? Endangering public safety?" Shi Jin could only come up with these few charges for the moment.
Number Two shook his head with a mysterious look on his face, patting Shi Jin's shoulder. "Young man, you should read more news. An organization as large as Black Rose is still legal. The two reasons you mentioned are not valid reasons to take action against them."
With that, Number Two took advantage of Shi Jin's falling into deep thought and slipped away.
Shi Jin was completely confused. If those weren't valid reasons, then what was?
With this question in mind, Shi Jin continued to squat and monitor the news for several days. Finally, one day, he saw an official news report that revealed the reason why Black Rose could be targeted - the government had defined the conflict at the entrance of Tuanjie community as a terrorist attack by Black Rose against the residents of Tuanjie community.
Gathering for a fiery brawl and a terrorist attack, the nature and level of danger of this event were simply worlds apart. Shi Jin remained silent, lighting a candle for Black Rose in his heart - with the escalation of the situation to this degree, Black Rose was definitely in trouble.
In just a few days, Shi Jin's wounds had completely healed. He found some time to go to the infirmary and chatted with Uncle Long for a while, then after dinner that day, he brought a bunch of tools to Lian Jun's study.
Lian Jun looked up at him and asked, "What are these for?"
"These are tools to use for a massage." Shi Jin placed the items on the desk, sat behind it, glanced at Lian Jun, then at the documents in his hand, and finally at the clock on the wall. His intentions were clear.
Lian Jun shifted his gaze back to the documents and asked, "Are your wounds healed?"
"Uncle Long said there's no problem now, so I don't have to worry about hurting my wound and avoid moving my arm freely," replied Shi Jin, lifting his own arm to show off his strength.
Lian Jun didn't even look up. "Then go back and pack your bags, we're getting ready to leave for the island. You don't need to bring winter clothes, it's warm on the island. Just bring a light jacket for the big temperature difference in the morning and evening."
Shi Jin was stunned and asked, "Are we leaving now? Weren't we busy with the Black Rose before? Why are we suddenly leaving?"
Although Number Two previously mentioned going to the island to catch crabs after the New Year, everyone started to focus on the Black Rose as soon as they returned to B City, so he thought they would be staying in B City for a while longer.
"It's the government's responsibility to deal with the Black Rose. We've already done enough to help," said Lian Jun as he signed the document on his desk. He glanced at the items on the table and added, "We can discuss the massage later when we're on the island."
Shi Jin looked disappointed at his words. To be honest, he was curious about the condition of Lian Jun's legs. He had heard that the muscles in the legs of people who couldn't walk for a long time would atrophy, and he was a little worried.
It was his own negligence that he had only been concerned about Lian Jun's eating habits before and had forgotten that people with mobility issues also needed to take extra care of their legs. If he hadn't seen Lian Jun stand up at the cemetery that day, he probably wouldn't have remembered to pay attention to the health of Lian Jun's legs until now.
"Going to the island will take a while. How about we try out the massage tools first? Look, I brought everything with me..." Shi Jin persisted, touching the massage tools on the table.
Lian Jun was focused on reading the documents and silently refused.
Shi Jin secretly moved his chair closer to Lian Jun.
Suddenly, Lian Jun put down the documents and asked, "How's your schoolwork going?"
"Um..." Shi Jin froze.
"When you make a promise, you have to keep it." Lian Jun slid his wheelchair out and surprisingly brought out a set of high school textbooks from the lower shelf of the bookcase. He said, "You went to high school in M country, and the teaching progress is different from that in China. It may be difficult to adapt in the early stages. Come here, let me see what level you're at."
When Shi Jin glanced at the textbook in his hand, his heart sank to the bottom of his stomach. He awkwardly refused, "Oh, you don't have to do this. You're so busy, I don't want to bother you..."
Lian Jun reached for the remote control on his desk and locked the door to the study.
Hearing the sound of the door locking, Shi Jin froze halfway up and looked over at Lian Jun, who had already sat down at the coffee table. Resigned, Shi Jin sat down next to him.
Lian Jun poured him a glass of warm water and handed him a set of paper and pens, then opened the textbook.
What was supposed to be a massage session turned into a pop quiz. Shi Jin felt like he was dying inside, his face stiff and awkward.
He had graduated from high school years ago and had already returned most of what he had learned to his teachers. He was completely clueless, and it was an accurate description of him now.
After two long hours, Lian Jun put down the last textbook and looked at Shi Jin, who remained silent.
Shi Jin kept his head down, absentmindedly drawing circles on his notebook with a pen, too afraid to look up.
"After we arrive on the island, I will arrange for a few teachers to help you," Lian Jun spoke up, surprisingly gentle in tone, even with a hint of a soft-hearted parent who didn't want to criticize their struggling child too harshly, for fear of damaging their self-esteem. "Your language and linguistics skills are excellent, and with a little extra help, you can improve in the other subjects as well."
Shi Jin didn't feel comforted and looked at him with little enthusiasm, asking, "Young Master Jun, are you asking me to improve so I can go to college?"
Lian Jun didn't give a direct answer, instead asking, "Don't you want to go to college?"
"I don't want to," Shi Jin replied quickly and firmly. He had already gone to university once, and that was enough. He didn't want to go back for a second time. Besides, staying alive was more important now, and going to school was not even in his consideration.
"Why not?" Lian Jun asked.
Shi Jin answered honestly, "Firstly, I don't like studying. Secondly, now is not the right time for studying. Everyone is working together for a brighter future, and I don't want to leave the team to do my own thing. If you, Young Master Jun, really look down on my education level, I can wait until everything settles down and then go to an adult university or something. There's no rush for me to do it now."
"I don't mind that you have a lower education," said Lian Jun in a gentle tone after listening to his explanation. "I'm just afraid that you might regret it in the future. Shi Jin, there is a lot of knowledge and skills necessary for survival in this world that stem from these basic foundations.
"You may not think it's important to learn them now, but you might think differently in the future. I'm not forcing you to follow the typical growth pace of an ordinary person, but you must understand one thing - only when you become strong yourself, will others not dare to mess with you.
"And strength encompasses many aspects, including physical, intellectual, and the accumulation of capital. The easiest way for you to establish strength right now is through the first two, and with those, especially with intelligence, achieving the last one will become much easier."
Shi Jin never expected that Lian Jun would serve up such a heartfelt bowl of chicken soup. He stared at him dumbfounded, his thoughts unconsciously following Lian Jun's words.
Yes, Lian Jun's words made perfect sense. If he became as powerful as Lian Jun, would the killer hiding in the shadows still dare to target him? They would have to think twice. Just look at how Lian Jun's strength affected the Black Rose's fate. Wasn't his power evident enough?
Thinking back, he had only clung onto Lian Jun's powerful thigh, and his progress bar had dropped significantly. If he became as strong as Lian Jun, who would dare to touch him? His progress bar would automatically drop, wouldn't it?
Shi Weichong? Li Jiuzheng? If he really had the kind of power that Lian Jun has, why would he be afraid of them? How could they possibly hurt him? Has Lian Jun ever been afraid of Shi Weichong and his gang? Never.
As Shi Jin thought more and more about it, he became increasingly excited. He felt that he had been foolish before, only focusing on external factors and forgetting that his own abilities were the biggest factor in determining his progress.
He couldn't help but grab Lian Jun's hand and sincerely say, "Young Master Jun, I understand now. You're right. I will work hard to become a powerful boss like you and never give up!"
Lian Jun: "..."
Shi Jin was kicked out of the door by Lian Jun, and before he left, he only received a cold and disdainful look from Lian Jun.
"Why did he suddenly change his mind, didn't I listen to him and decide to study hard?" Shi Jin's face was full of confusion.
Xiao Si sighed with a sense of world-weariness and said softly, "Shi Jin, I'm starting to wonder if I forgot to bring a part of your intelligence when I helped you be reborn..." and a lot of emotional intelligence too.
Shi Jin first frowned, then became angry, "Xiao Si, you're insinuating that I'm stupid again. Aren't you going too far lately!"
Xiao Si shut up and pretended to be dead, as if it was shutting down and restarting.
On the last day of the Chinese New Year, everyone who had been busy celebrating finally had time to stop and rest, gathering together to enjoy a belated reunion dinner.
Shi Jin personally made dumplings, fried spring rolls, boiled sweet glutinous rice balls, and even baked a few ugly cupcakes to celebrate the arrival of the new year with everyone.
Number Two mocked Shi Jin's terrible cooking skills mercilessly. In anger, Shi Jin shoved a burnt spring roll into Number Two's mouth and then presented the best bowl of soup dumplings to Lian Jun, secretly slipping a packet of egg cakes to him as well.
"Don't let them see this. I made this just for you. Number Two is a beast. He complains about my cooking but still wants to steal it, he's shameless. The kitchen sent over a bunch of delicious food, but he still wants mine," Shi Jin grumbled, complaining to Lian Jun. "Next time, I'll put laxatives in his food!"
Lian Jun squeezed the soft egg cakes in the bag and found that they were still warm. He turned to Shi Jin and asked, "Why have you suddenly taken up baking?"
"I was bored since you guys are all busy... Of course! I read every day, and I do this during my breaks!" Shi Jin replied vaguely.
Lian Jun's lips curled into a smile as he lowered his head to open the bag of egg cake. He pinched a piece and carefully tasted it before nodding and saying, "Not bad."
Shi Jin was filled with satisfaction and felt like the best and most considerate "parent" in the world. He had even learned how to cook just to get the picky "child" to eat more. He truly was great.
Xiao Si in his head who was watching his antics: "..."
After a fun and lively dinner, it was finally coming to an end at around nine o'clock. Although Shi Jin wanted to set up a few more tables for mahjong and stay up all night with everyone, they had to leave B City the next day, so he reluctantly gave up the idea.
He sent Lian Jun back to his room before returning to his own to prepare for bed. As he was rummaging through his wardrobe for pajamas, his phone suddenly rang. He checked the caller ID and saw that it was a call from Xiang Aoting. His face lit up with joy, but it quickly faded as he hesitated for a moment before answering.
"Xiao Jin," Xiang Aoting's voice came through the phone, sounding tired. "I heard that you're leaving B City soon. I'm outside Nightfall, could you come out and meet me? There's something I want to tell you."
Checking the time, Shi Jin thought back to Xiang Aoting's behavior in the original plot and let out a sigh before agreeing to his invitation.
In the original plot, Xiang Aoting was the only brother who remained consistent in his attitude towards the original owner. Before Shi Xingrui's death, he was very busy and didn't have much time to contact the original owner. He wouldn't often give gifts to please him, but would regularly make a few phone calls. Each time, he would ask about his health and studies, and then give some unhelpful advice in a stiff and formal tone, as if he was just going through the motions.
After Shi Xingrui's death, he remained busy and continued to make regular phone calls to the original owner, but the content of the calls remained dry and uninteresting. By then, the original owner had already vaguely realized something, and felt that these calls were a form of invisible mockery towards him.
Later, a kidnapping occurred, and the original owner's feelings towards this older brother became complicated. The original owner, who was kidnapped, was rescued by Xiang Aoting and his men. But Xiang Aoting left immediately after rescuing the person, making him seem very heartless.
Until the end, the original owner's feelings towards Xiang Aoting remained complex, unlike the resentment and hatred towards the other brothers.
From an outsider's perspective, Shi Jin had to objectively say that the original owner's feelings were not wrong. Among the five brothers of the Shi family, perhaps only Xiang Aoting's concern for him was genuine, although it was probably very slight.
Xiang Aoting was a very upright person. Perhaps he disliked the original owner's pampered upbringing, or maybe his reasons for showing concern towards the original owner were not entirely pure, but regardless he still treated the original owner like a younger brother. At certain moments, his care for the original owner should have been genuine.
Just meet once then.
Shi Jin put on his coat after taking off his pajamas.
He decided to meet Xiang Aoting, partly because of the complicated feelings the original owner had towards him, and partly because Xiang Aoting had helped rescue the original owner from the kidnappers.