Death Progress Bar

Death Progress Bar

Chapter 44 - The Exam

Shi Jin couldn't take it anymore and shut off his tablet, making his way to Lian Jun's study.

Lian Jun was reading some documents when he saw Shi Jin enter with a look of confusion on his face. He glanced at Shi Jin's hands and noticed the absence of his tablet. Instantly understanding the situation, Lian Jun put down his documents and went to greet him. He even held onto Shi Jin's hand and asked, "What's wrong?" 

As various thoughts raced through Shi Jin's mind, he didn't even notice when Lian Jun reached out to hold his hand. In fact, he instinctively held Lian Jun's hand back, looking like a lost soul. 

As they moved towards the couch, Shi Jin explained, "I just feel like my imagination is too wild... Have you had a chance to look at those materials yet? I have a theory and I want to see if it holds any weight." 

He needed someone to help him sort through his thoughts, or else he would explode. Lian Jun was the one who had found the materials and knew his family situation well, plus he was intelligent. Asking for his help was the best choice.

Lian Jun glanced down at their intertwined hands and followed Shi Jin's lead, wheeling his chair towards the couch and responding softly to agree. 

The two of them sat down at the coffee table. Lian Jun poured a cup of warm water for Shi Jin and lit a lightly scented incense. 

After drinking the water and smelling the faint scent in the air, Shi Jin's chaotic thoughts slowly settled down. He quickly organized his ideas while they were still fresh in his mind and carefully explained his speculation and the reasons behind it. Then, he looked at Lian Jun with hopeful eyes, seeking affirmation. 

Lian Jun listened attentively and after some contemplation, met his gaze and replied, "Your speculation is very reasonable. I will send someone to investigate the circumstances of Xiang Qing's first pregnancy and miscarriage, as well as gather detailed information about Shi Xingrui's life. We will also look into his past relationships to see if there is...a man who resembles you and your mother." 

As he spoke, his brow furrowed, indicating that he did not like this information. 

"Women should also be checked, in case my speculation is wrong, and the one Xingrui is thinking about is perhaps a woman," added Shi Jin.

Lian Jun nodded, seeing his tense expression. He soothed him in a calm voice, "It will take some time to find the information. Don't think too much during this time and relax. The grudges of the previous generation cannot affect you. Whatever you want to do, I am here for you. Don't be afraid."

I am here for you.

Shi Jin was stunned by Lian Jun's confident and domineering words, as well as the image of him appearing particularly tall and reliable at this moment. He thought to Xiao Si in his heart, "Is this the demeanor of a boss? 'I am here for you'... I suddenly feel at ease and want to recognize him as my boss from the bottom of my heart!" 

"......" Xiao Si began to worry about how to retrieve his lost intelligence and emotional intelligence.

When Lian Jun saw Xiao Si looking at him with admiration, he leaned in slightly and whispered, "Shi Jin?"

Shi Jin quickly snapped out of his thoughts and turned to look at Lian Jun, who was now very close. As he gazed upon Lian Jun's handsome face, he couldn't help but feel that he was truly a precious gem. Without thinking, he leaned in and hugged Lian Jun tightly, patting his back and saying, "I know I still have you. You must remember that you have me too, Lian Jun. You have to live on and live for a long time. I will help you!" 

He would help Lian Jun erase the progress bar and live without worrying about the possibility of dying at any moment! 

The temperature on the island was high, and both of them were only wearing one layer of clothing. Today, they were even wearing loose tank tops, and as they hugged each other, Lian Jun could immediately feel the warmth of Shi Jin's body.

Unlike their previous embraces, which were separated by thick clothing and brief restraint, this hug felt more intimate. Lian Jun's heart skipped a beat, and his body briefly stiffened before quickly relaxing. He felt the comforting warmth of Shi Jin's body and without hesitation, he lifted his hand to embrace him back, pulling him closer to himself. 

He turned his head to look at Shi Jin's head resting on his shoulder, and his nose brushed against the hair behind his ear. His expression softened, and he softly replied, "I will."

Of course, he would work hard to live a long life with this beautiful person in his arms. How could he bear to let him belong to someone else? 

Shi Jin had originally planned to hold onto Lian Jun for two seconds and then let go. After coming to his senses, he even began to worry that he was being inappropriate and wondered if Lian Jun would be angry with him. But to his surprise, Lian Jun also hugged him tightly and showed no signs of letting go even after Shi Jin wanted to. 

He moved his head, which was resting on Lian Jun's shoulder, and couldn't help but sniff the faint scent of shower gel on Lian Jun's body. He poked Xiao Si and asked, "Did Lian Jun fall asleep while holding me? Why isn't he moving?" 

Xiao Si replied with a hint of sadness, "No, he isn't asleep. My baby's probably just too tired. Growing up in 'Annihilation', he was taught to always be vigilant and protect himself from danger. He's never experienced a hug like this before. Jin Jin, my baby really needs love. Please love him a little more." 

As soon as Shi Jin heard the story, he immediately imagined a pitiful child who had struggled to survive in a criminal organization. His heart softened and he hugged Lian Jun tightly, feeling sorry for him. 

'You can hug me as long as you want,' he thought. Lian Jun is so pitiful, he has never been hugged properly in his life. How sad.

Lian Jun noticed Shi Jin's alternating tight and loose embrace, and turned his head to kiss the hair behind his ear, a small smile playing on his lips. 'Silly boy, what are you imagining now?' he thought.

After lunch, Shi Jin finally fulfilled his wish and took Lian Jun for a walk on the island. In the afternoon, the sun was scorching hot, and Shi Jin was afraid that Lian Jun couldn't bear the heat. So they followed the small path paved with blue stones, weaving through flowers and trees, and climbed up a small hill at the edge of the island. They found a pavilion halfway up the mountain with the best view, and started playing Monopoly - something Lian Jun had always wanted to do since childhood.

The pavilion was made of wood, with a simple design. A string of seashell wind chimes hung on the edge of the pavilion, making a crisp and pleasant sound whenever the wind blew.

Sitting inside the pavilion, the two of them played Monopoly with the map spread out in front of them, along with various chips and dice. They had snacks and drinks brought by Shi Jin, and chatted aimlessly while playing. Whenever the wind chimes rang, they would look at each other and laugh for no reason. Before they knew it, the whole afternoon had passed. 

As the sunset painted the sky with hues of orange and pink, Shi Jin stretched lazily and rested his head on the pile of chips on the table. He sighed contentedly, "Life on vacation is so wonderful..."

Lian Jun reached out and ruffled his hair, asking, "You've been hanging out with me all afternoon, don't you find it boring?"

Shi Jin was momentarily stunned by the touch, but he looked up and shook his head, "No, Monopoly is quite fun. Young Master Jun, do you find it boring?"

"Not at all. It's good to relax like this." Lian Jun poked his forehead and, satisfied that he wasn't bored, withdrew his hand in a good mood.

Shi Jin didn't pay any more attention to his little gesture and immediately suggested, "Then let's come out and play again tomorrow."

Lian Jun propped his chin up with his hand and nodded, "Sure." 

When Shi Jin saw that Lian Jun seemed to be in a good mood, he continued to probe, "How about we go out and play every weekend? Working all the time can be tiring, so we should pay attention to work-life balance."

Lian Jun's lips curved into a smile as he nodded, "Sure, whatever you want."

Shi Jin couldn't help but twitch his ears. While the response was fine, the "whatever you want" part felt a bit strange, like an adult indulging a child.

Xiao Si: "..." What adult and child, hehehe.

Although Lian Jun's response was a bit odd, it didn't stop Shi Jin from feeling happy. He immediately began planning the weekend activities with enthusiasm. 

Time flowed lightly with the tinkling of wind chimes. It was a late March study day when Shi Jin and Mr. Feng skipped class, keeping it a secret from Lian Jun.

"Any missed classes today must be made up at another time. Your learning progress cannot fall behind," Mr. Feng said sternly.

Shi Jin quickly promised, "I understand, I understand. Can we make up for it with a few evening self-study sessions? You can arrange the time."

Mr. Feng's expression softened a bit as he replied, "That's better."

The two of them went to the restaurant closest to the villa, where Number Six was already waiting. When he saw Shi Jin arrive, he warmly greeted him, "The kitchen is cleared for you, and all the ingredients are ready. You can make whatever you want. If there's anything you don't know, just ask the other people in the kitchen. They'll teach you." 

Shi Jin made an OK gesture and hurried off to the kitchen.

Mr. Feng watched him go, his previously stern face slowly softening as he glanced at the various celebratory decorations scattered on the restaurant floor, his emotions complex.

Seeing this, Number Six leaned in and said, "Xiao Jin is a good kid. You should go easy on him in the future."

Mr. Feng gave him a glance but didn't reply, turning and walking away.

In the study, Lian Jun checked the time and saw that it was almost Shi Jin's break time. He put down his files, slid out from his desk, and took out a bottle of chilled fruit juice from the small fridge, along with a fruit platter, placing them on the coffee table.

With everything ready and only a minute left until break time, Lian Jun returned to his desk and picked up his files again. 

One minute passed quickly and the break between classes began, but Lian Jun did not hear the usual prompt knocking sound. He looked at the door and wondered if Shi Jin had gone to the restroom. He then looked back at the documents. 

Several more minutes passed and still no knocking sound. Lian Jun couldn't sit still any longer. He put down the documents and slid his wheelchair out of the door. He turned his head towards the direction of the small study room and saw Mr. Feng, who should also be on break, sitting outside the room with a chair and flipping through a teaching plan. 

"Mr. Feng?" Lian Jun was puzzled and looked towards the study room door behind him. 

Mr. Feng looked as if he had just been brought back to life. Seeing Lian Jun look at the door, he explained, "I forgot to tell you, I arranged a little quiz for Shi Jin today. One paper for two classes, and he won't have a break during the break. I'm afraid he'll be nervous if I watch him, so I came out to sit here."

So it was an exam.

Lian Jun frowned and nodded to show that he understood. He invited, "Why don't you come to my study and sit for a while? It's not appropriate to wait outside the door all the time."

"It's okay, I'll just sit here." Mr. Feng waved his hand, looking serious. "Otherwise, what if Shi Jin sneaks out and goes back to his room to cheat?"

Lian Jun corrected him, "Shi Jin won't cheat."

"You don't understand." Mr. Feng shook his head, looking like he had seen it all. "Some poor students will do anything to pass the exam." 


Lian Jun couldn't bring himself to say that Shi Jin wasn't a bad student. He recalled Shi Jin's lively personality and remained silent.

The break passed in a blur, and when the next one came, Shi Jin had to put down what he was working on and rush back to the villa. He knocked on Lian Jun's study door right on time.

Lian Jun opened the door and quickly assessed Shi Jin's mental state. Seeing that he seemed fine and not like he had failed the exam, Lian Jun felt relieved. Then he noticed a sweet smell and saw that Shi Jin's hands were covered in something resembling sugar glaze.

"Did you eat something during the exam?" Lian Jun's first reaction was to ask this.

"Um...yes!" Shi Jin stiffened and nodded vigorously, putting on a distressed expression. "My brain couldn't function after a long time of taking the test, so I ate something sweet to replenish my energy." 

"It's just a small exam, don't worry too much about it," reassured Lian Jun, as he took the opportunity to wipe the powdered sugar off of Shi Jin's hand and gestured towards the couch. "Why don't you take a break and sit down? The restaurant just sent over a fresh fruit platter. Mr. Feng said you had exams all day today, aren't you tired?"

Shi Jin breathed a sigh of relief and quickly sat down, grabbing a perfectly chilled piece of fruit and stuffing it in his mouth, using the act of eating to hide his expression. "Not too tired, exams are easier than classes at least. At least there's no homework."

Lian Jun glanced at his empty hand and frowned as he leaned over to pat Shi Jin's head. Then he turned to the other side and started to unpack some other snacks for him. Shi Jin ran his hand through his hair, feeling that Lian Jun had been touching him a lot lately. But when he remembered Xiao Si's words about Lian Jun lacking love, he quickly dismissed the thought. 

After another class break, Shi Jin entered the small study room within Lian Jun's line of sight. He waited until Lian Jun returned to the large study room before sneaking out and heading straight to the dining hall after greeting Mr. Feng. 

During lunch, Shi Jin was afraid that Lian Jun would notice something was off in the dining hall, so he convinced him to have lunch at the villa, using the excuse of being too tired from exams to move. 

With all the sneaking around and lying, it wasn't until the end of the afternoon class that Shi Jin's handmade cake was finally ready, and the dining hall was decorated with the help of Number One and others. 

"I'll go and bring Young Master Jun over, you guys keep an eye on the other dishes," said Shi Jin as he took off his apron and wiped the cream off his hands. He walked towards the villa while instructing Number Two.

Number Two nodded and watched him leave. He glanced at the others who had gathered in the dining room and sighed, "Even if Young Master Jun is as unmoveable as a rock, Shi Jin will surely move him with his determination."

The others gave him a look but didn't respond to his pointless remark. They dispersed and followed Shi Jin's orders to keep an eye on the dishes.

Worried that the smell of cream on his body would be too strong for Lian Jun to notice, Shi Jin hurriedly acted as if he had finished an exam early when he returned to the villa. 

He pushed open Lian Jun's study and quickly said, "Young Master Jun, I got ink on myself, I need to wash up." 

He then closed the door and ran back to his own room, leaving Mr. Feng to handle the aftermath. Upon hearing this, Lian Jun quickly left his study and saw that Shi Jin had already disappeared down the hallway. He turned to Mr. Feng.

Mr. Feng stood still as a mountain, his tone full of disdain: "I told you, when a student is taking an exam, they can make all sorts of mistakes. I gave him ink to use for his exam, but he managed to spill it all over himself."

Lian Jun remained silent and said, "What brand of ink was it? I'll have logistics send you a set."

So, does this mean that Shi Jin can just spill ink everywhere and someone else will pay for it?

Mr. Feng choked and glared at him, saying angrily, "You just keep spoiling him!" He then turned and walked away with heavy steps.

Lian Jun seemed like a foolish ruler who couldn't take good advice. Even after Mr. Feng had left, he calmly said, "He's my person, of course I have to spoil him." 

After taking a shower, Shi Jin followed the original plan and pretended to casually push Lian Jun to the restaurant for dinner.

Lian Jun was afraid that Shi Jin was feeling down because of the exam, so he considerately suggested, "We don't have to go to the restaurant. Eating on the terrace would be nice."

"It's okay. We had lunch at the villa. We finished our work for the day, and it's nice to come out and enjoy the sea breeze at night," Shi Jin replied. Seeing the restaurant in front of them, he quickly asked, "Young Master Jun, can we sit at the outermost edge of the outdoor terrace today? It's closer to the sea."

Naturally, Lian Jun agreed and nodded, "Sure."

So Shi Jin smoothly turned the wheelchair and positioned Lian Jun's line of sight towards the sea, saying, "Then let's sit there. It's right in front of the sea." 

At this time, the sky was still bright and the sun had not yet descended below the horizon. The restaurant was naturally not lit up, but Lian Jun trusted Shi Jin and obediently followed him to the outer terrace of the restaurant. They sat at the edge and Lian Jun complimented Shi Jin on his choice of location, as the scenery was indeed beautiful.

Shi Jin was delighted and sat across from Lian Jun, ordering food as usual. They chatted about trivial topics while eating until the sun set and the sky gradually darkened. 

Shi Jin then looked puzzled and asked, "Why hasn't the restaurant turned on the lights yet? Is there a problem with the wiring?"

Lian Jun was also confused and was about to call someone over to ask. However, Shi Jin quickly stopped him and volunteered to go check it out, saying, "Don't bother calling anyone, I'll go take a look. I actually need to use the restroom anyway." 

With a nod, Lian Jun withdrew his hand and watched as the man entered the restaurant. The gentle sea breeze blew and the night slowly unfolded. Lian Jun waited for a while but didn't see him come back. 

Just as he was about to go and ask, the lights inside the restaurant suddenly turned on all at once. The light spread along the thin lines and small colored lights wrapped around the platform, steadily illuminating the darkness. Then, it gathered on the umbrella above Lian Jun's seat and with a snap, a large cluster of hazy light spilled out, turning the umbrella into a small and colorful world. 

Lian Jun stopped turning his wheelchair and looked at the platform and umbrella surrounded by colored lights, realizing something. He turned his head towards the restaurant's entrance. 

Amidst the starry lights, a teddy bear dressed in a chef's uniform pushed a three-layered cake out of the restaurant. The cake was surrounded by many different sized gift boxes, with a small trumpet playing "Happy Birthday" in the middle. It looked both cute and funny.

In the eyes of Lian Jun, the stars seemed to shine brighter as the wheelchair turned to face the teddy bear. His expression softened.

The cart stopped in front of him, and the teddy bear didn't say a word. Instead, it turned around and began to insert birthday candles into the cake. As it did so, it grabbed the small gift boxes on the cake and stuffed them into Lian Jun's arms, with a very comical gesture.

Lian Jun smiled and noticed that each gift box was labeled with a number. He asked, "What did everyone prepare?" 

The teddy bear nodded and crouched down after placing the candles, carefully adjusting the height of the cart to make it easier for Lian Jun to blow out the candles. 

Lian Jun only noticed up close that the cake, which looked beautiful from afar, was actually a bit rough. The words "Happy Birthday" on top were clearly not the work of a professional cake maker, but rather the handwriting of Shi Jin. 

Lian Jun's heart skipped a beat as he remembered Shi Jin's "exam" with its sweet fragrance. He reached out and grabbed the hand of the teddy bear, who had already stood up, and asked, "Did you make this?" 

"It's time to make a wish and blow out the candles," a deliberately mechanical voice came from the headgear, clearly Shi Jin's voice. 

Without making a wish, Lian Jun quickly blew out the candle and stood up from his wheelchair. He reached out and hugged the unresponsive teddy bear, closed his eyes, and planted a gentle kiss on its soft nose.

Shi Jin was dumbfounded, his eyes almost popping out of his head. Through the breathing holes in his mask, he watched as Lian Jun tenderly kissed his own face, which was just inches away. His heart began to race uncontrollably, thumping loudly in his chest.

Number Two, holding a small firework, quickly retreated his foot that was about to step out the door. He then blocked all his brothers behind him.

The confused Number Nine at the back didn't understand and asked, "Why aren't we leaving? Didn't we agree to go out once Young Master Jun blew out the candle to set the mood?" 

Upon seeing the situation outside, Number One also stopped in his tracks and said, "Going out now would only dampen the mood. Number Three."

Number Three understood without needing further instruction and took out his walkie-talkie, saying, "Let's start the fireworks."

With a whoosh, fireworks shot up into the sky by the beach, followed by a loud bang and a dazzling display of light that illuminated the entire beach.

Hearing the sound, Lian Jun stood up and looked towards the beach where the fireworks continued to light up the sky. A smile spread across his face as he reached out to the stuffed teddy bear in front of him, hugged it tightly, and rubbed its head, whispering, "Thank you, I really like it." 

As he sat inside the teddy bear costume, sweat dripped down his forehead. He couldn't tell if it was from the heat or the pounding of his heart. After a moment of stiffness, he finally hugged Lian Jun's back and gently patted him. 

In a dreamy tone, he asked Xiao Si, "Lian Jun seems to really like teddy bears, but why didn't he make a wish? Is it because my cake was too ugly, or because my cake wasn't worth his wish?"

Just as he was about to continue his poetic musings, Xiao Si's response caught him off guard. It suddenly burst into tears and cried, "Jin Jin, I'm sorry. I'll work hard to help you regain your intelligence. Waaahhh..."

Shi Jin: "..." 


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