After their embrace, Lian Jun urged Shi Jin to take off the doll costume, fearing that he would overheat. However, Shi Jin insisted on taking many photos with Lian Jun while still wearing the costume. He figured that this would make up for Lian Jun's lost childhood. Only after that did he run to the restaurant kitchen to take off the costume and wash his face.
The weather indeed made it rather hot in the doll costume. Shi Jin only wore it for a short while, but his hair and clothes were already soaked with sweat. Despite feeling uncomfortable, he thought of Lian Jun's happy expression and felt that it was all worth it.
"Raising a child is no easy task," Shi Jin sighed with satisfaction, feeling like a great 'father'.
Xiao Si let out a sob.
Shi Jin was at a loss and coaxed, "Stop crying. I know you're excited about your baby's birthday, but if you cry for too long, you might cry yourself to exhaustion."
Xiao Si started hiccuping while crying.
Shi Jin looked up at the sky, sighed deeply, and decided to let it be. He happily went back to the restaurant outside.
Everyone had already gathered together and started playing. Lian Jun sat in front of the cake, unwrapping gifts.
"Why hasn't the cake been cut yet?" Shi Jin approached with a puzzled look, still holding a towel to wipe his sweaty hair.
Number Two winked and teased, "Of course, we're waiting for you, Master Cake Maker."
With a smirk, Shi Jin rolled his eyes and looked over at Lian Jun, who was sitting in front of the cake. Their eyes met, and suddenly, Shi Jin's mind flashed with the image of Lian Jun closing his eyes and leaning in for a kiss. His steps involuntarily paused.
No, that image was too impactful. He still can't quite shake it off.
"Shi Jin, come over here," Lian Jun called out at the perfect moment, beckoning him over.
Shi Jin couldn't help but notice that Lian Jun's voice sounded particularly alluring today.
Using a towel to wipe his ears, Shi Jin took a step forward and leaned in, asking, "Why haven't you cut the cake yet? Were you really waiting for me?"
As soon as he approached, Lian Jun grabbed his hand and said, "Of course, I have to wait for you."
With his other hand, he picked up a knife and, holding onto Shi Jin, he cut off the top layer of the cake.
Number 6 was so excited that he snapped away with his camera, even pulling Number Two's obstructing hand away.
Number Two: "..."
"It's actually a layered cake, how long did it take you to make this?" Lian Jun turned his head to look at Shi Jin and squeezed his hand.
Lian Jun's hand was cool, and on a hot day, it should have been very comfortable to hold. However, Shi Jin felt his palms sweating. He thought he had subtly pulled away from Lian Jun's grasp and used the motion of wiping his neck to wipe the sweat off his hands onto a towel.
He replied, "Not long, everyone helped me a lot."
Lian Jun glanced at the sweat-soaked clothes on his back, wrinkled his brow, and reached out to touch them. He pulled them away from his skin, not minding the dampness, and then looked over at Number Six standing beside him.
Number Six understood Lian Jun's meaning in an instant, nodded at him, and walked to a corner to make a phone call.
Shi Jin didn't notice the exchange of glances between the two men, his attention focused entirely on the clothes being pulled away from his body. He turned his head and felt the sea breeze blowing in through the open fabric, closing his eyes in comfort. He thanked Lian Jun for his help.
As they cut and ate the cake, everyone quickly became caught up in the lively atmosphere.
About five minutes later, Number Six approached Shi Jin with a set of clean clothes and said, "Change into these. They'll be more comfortable."
When Shi Jin received the clothes from Number Six, he was deeply moved and praised, "You're so thoughtful, Brother Six."
"It's all thanks to Young Master Jun's thoughtfulness. He let me take the clothes for you. Hurry and change, the sweat on your clothes may have dried, but it's definitely sticky and uncomfortable. There's a small bathroom in the back kitchen, you can go wash up and change your clothes there," Number Six explained, subtly boosting Lian Jun's impression.
Shi Jin was stunned, looking over at Lian Jun who was surrounded by Number One and others, with a cake plate still on his knee. He pinched the clothes in his hand, thanked Number Six, and turned to go to the back kitchen.
"Your baby is really a good baby," Shi Jin couldn't help but exclaim as he showered.
Xiao Si started hiccupping again, looking like he couldn't stop crying.
Shi Jin: "..."
Lian Jun, who usually didn't eat sweets, had his fill of cake on his birthday. After a long time without playing real mahjong, they finally satisfied their craving on Lian Jun's birthday.
Everyone was happy, but unfortunately, some people's happiness came at a cost.
In order to make up for the day's fun, Shi Jin had to embark on a painful journey of evening self-study.
The self-study session started at 7 pm after dinner and lasted until 9:30 pm. It was a bit late, and Lian Jun felt sorry for Shi Jin's hard work and wanted to exempt him from massaging for a few days. However, Shi Jin strongly opposed, believing that taking care of his leg could not be neglected even for a day.
He argued with Lian Jun and successfully won back the massage job, but considering the late hour, they agreed to only do a partial massage each day before bed. Feeling satisfied with himself for taking advantage of the situation, even though he had actually suffered a loss, Shi Jin said with a smug smile, "That's more like it. You should be more proactive, life is still beautiful."
Although he had actually taken advantage of the situation, Lian Jun looked like he had reluctantly compromised and said, "Hmm."
Xiao Si: "..." Sometimes it seemed like Shi Jin lacked intelligence, but it was also quite a good thing.
That night, when the tutoring session was over, Shi Jin knocked on Lian Jun's door on time.
Since they didn't need to use the full set of equipment anymore, the massage bed was temporarily abandoned. And because it was already too late, it would be time to rest after the massage, so Lian Jun simply designated the bed as the massage location.
Shi Jin had no objections to this, so after Lian Jun lay down on the bed, he reached out and lifted the hem of Lian Jun's sleeping robe, and began to knead his legs.
As he kneaded and massaged, he finished the leg closer to the edge of the bed. Shi Jin glanced at the large bed, then at Lian Jun's other leg that was on the inner side of the bed, feeling a bit unsure. The bed was too wide, making it difficult to switch sides like on a massage table. If he continued to stand on this side to work on Lian Jun's other leg, it would be difficult to apply enough pressure.
Lian Jun quickly understood his dilemma and considerately suggested, "Come up on the bed. It's getting late, and if you finish massaging soon, you can rest early."
Shi Jin hesitated, "But I haven't showered yet. Is it okay to get on the bed?"
"It's okay. I don't mind," Lian Jun was particularly easy-going and even reached out to pull him up.
Shi Jin was deeply moved and thought that Lian Jun was truly a good person. He obediently followed Lian Jun's lead and climbed onto the bed, sitting on the blanket that had been pulled aside earlier and massaging Lian Jun's other leg.
From beginning to end, he had completely failed to realize that the problem he had just encountered could have been solved simply by having Lian Jun turn over or move to a different position. There was no need to get on the bed at all.
But now that they were on the bed, there was no going back.
Lian Jun watched as Shi Jin sat on his bed, completely focused on massaging his leg. A slight smile formed at the corner of his mouth.
When the massage was over, Lian Jun seemed to have fallen asleep. Shi Jin carefully got off the bed, ready to leave quietly, when a cool hand grabbed his hand that was hanging by his side.
He stopped and turned around to look. Lian Jun, who he thought to have already fallen asleep, suddenly opened his eyes. He turned slightly and met the gaze of the person looking back at him. He gave a faint smile and said, "Thank you for your hard work."
Shi Jin's heart softened at the sight of Lian Jun's smile. He felt a rush of emotion and surprise at the beautiful reward he received after his efforts.
He turned around and held Lian Jun's hand, bending down to give him a gentle hug. He then squatted down to look at Lian Jun's face and said happily, "You look so good when you smile. You should smile more in the future... Sleep well, Young Master Jun."
Lian Jun carefully remembered Shi Jin's expression at this moment. He closed his eyes in his gaze and responded softly, "Goodnight, Shi Jin."
Shi Jin couldn't help but smile as he gazed at Lian Jun's sleeping face for a while longer by the bedside. He was surprised at himself for getting lost in watching Lian Jun sleep, but his heart was filled with a strange tenderness and excitement. He reached out to tuck Lian Jun in and then carefully got up, realizing his legs had gone numb. As he left the room, he even remembered to turn off the light.
As the door closed, Lian Jun opened his eyes in the dimly lit room and looked at the hand that Shi Jin had held. He let out a soft sigh, thinking to himself, 'What a silly boy. When will he ever understand?'
Was it because he was too young?
With that thought, he finally fell asleep.
Time continued to pass slowly. On the day when the evening classes and make-up lessons ended, an official meeting notice was sent out. The date and location of the meeting had been set. Based on the coordinates provided by the officials, if they wanted to arrive at the target sea area on time before the meeting, they would have to leave the island at least three days in advance.
It was already the end of March, and the meeting was scheduled for mid-April. Lian Jun was going to represent the officials' side, so they had to leave the island two days earlier to arrive at the meeting location earlier than the leaders of other organizations.
With this calculation, they only had less than ten days to prepare for the voyage.
The enjoyable holiday ended without warning, and everyone quickly got into gear, busy preparing for the voyage.
As a 'student', Shi Jin could only watch from the sidelines.
Every day, planes began to land and take off at the small airport on the island. The medium-sized cruise ship at the port was replaced with a larger one, and piles of goods were unloaded from the planes and transported onto the big cruise ship.
During a break between classes, Shi Jin leaned on the windowsill in the large study room and watched the bustling scene at the port in the distance. He couldn't help but sigh when he thought about how there had been no progress with Lian Jun's death progress bar.
He only hoped that the progress bar would remain stable until the day of departure.
"Why are you sighing?" Lian Jun appeared next to him at some point and looked towards the busy port with him. "Do you want to go down and take a look?"
Shi Jin snapped out of his thoughts and shook his head. "No, I don't know anything. If I go down there, I'll just cause trouble."
Lian Jun didn't try to persuade him any further, and they both just watched the harbor. He changed the subject and said, "We're almost done with investigating Shi Xingrui's life. The information on Xiang Qing's miscarriage is too old and vague, so there hasn't been much progress in the investigation. It might take more time."
It took Shi Jin a few seconds to realize what he was talking about. He nodded to show that he understood, but then he realized that he hadn't thought about anything related to the Shi family or Shi Xingrui since Lian Jun's birthday. Every day, he either focused on studying or thought about where to take Lian Jun on the weekends. He hadn't done anything productive.
It seemed that a vacation really made people lazy.
He reflected deeply and glanced at the two progress bars in his mind, one steady at 490 and the other at 500. He pondered the plot he knew of so far and then leaned back onto the windowsill, watching the ships leave the harbor. The remaining values on the progress bars seemed troublesome.
Lian Jun quietly accompanied him, also gazing at the ships in the harbor with a distant look in his eyes, lost in thought.
After the makeup sessions ended, the massage sessions returned to their usual rhythm.
As they finished the massage for the day, Shi Jin escorted Lian Jun to the bathroom and bid him goodnight. Standing in front of the closed bathroom door, he checked the time and then looked at Lian Jun's neatly made bed.
Suddenly feeling empty, he sighed in his mind, "I can't watch Lian Jun sleep tonight. I wonder if he'll secretly work in his room until late again."
The newly revitalized Xiao Si immediately suggested, "You can go and supervise your sweetheart's sleep at the designated time. Your room is so close, it's very convenient."
Upon hearing this, Shi Jin's heart suddenly felt less empty and he had a sudden realization, saying, "Right, I can go supervise his sleep. Early to bed and early to rise makes one healthy. Yes, yes, I'll go find him later."
Xiao Si immediately expressed enthusiastic support for his decision.
At 10:30 pm that night, Shi Jin, dressed in a tank top and shorts, stood outside Lian Jun's room, hesitating once again. He asked Xiao Si in his mind, "What if Lian Jun is already asleep? Won't I wake him up if I knock on the door now?"
Xiao Si made a guarantee, "I scanned it, my baby hasn't slept yet, he's still looking at documents!"
What, he's still looking at documents at this hour?!
Shi Jin furrowed his brows and knocked on the door without hesitation.
The door opened quickly, and Lian Jun was wearing a robe, looking like he was ready for bed. But when Shi Jin looked over at the desk by the window, he saw several documents and an open computer.
He gave Lian Jun a accusing look.
Surprisingly, Lian Jun understood his meaning in an instant and explained, "I was just about to go to sleep. Why aren't you resting?"
"I'm about to sleep too. I just came to check on you before bed," Shi Jin explained. He walked around to the back of Lian Jun's wheelchair without hesitation and pushed him towards the bed. "You need to sleep early to ensure you get enough rest since you wake up so early every day."
Lian Jun turned his head to look at him and said, "But I still have one document left to read. It's urgent, and they're waiting for my approval."
After staring at him for a few seconds to confirm that he was not lying, Shi Jin turned around and walked to the table, asking, "Which one? You go lie on the bed first, I'll bring the documents over for you."
Lian Jun obediently pointed to the documents and went to lie on the bed as instructed.
Soon, the situation turned into Lian Jun lying on the bed reading the documents while Shi Jin sat silently playing mahjong by the bedside, neither of them disturbing the other. When Lian Jun finished reading the documents and informed his subordinates of the approval results, Shi Jin immediately ended the game and helped Lian Jun put the documents back on the table before watching him lie down.
"Goodnight." Shi Jin furrowed his brows as he tucked Lian Jun in.
Lian Jun grabbed his hand and asked, "Are you angry?"
Shi Jin was momentarily stunned by the question, then shook his head and replied, "I'm not angry... but you'd better not do high-intensity work before going to bed. It really affects the quality of your sleep."
"It was an accident today," Lian Jun answered, squeezing his hand. Seeing that he no longer felt uncomfortable and had completely adapted to this physical contact, Lian Jun's heart stirred. He couldn't help but look into his eyes and said with restraint, "I also want to recover quickly and be the one to watch you fall asleep... I'm sorry, I can't take care of you properly right now."
Shi Jin didn't quite understand the deeper meaning behind his words, but his apology softened his heart. He knelt down in front of him, gently tucking his hand under the blanket and reassuring him, "You'll definitely recover soon. You're already much healthier than before. I'm not going to monitor your every move, I'm just worried... There will be opportunities in the future. When you're feeling better, you can supervise my sleep instead. I'll be waiting for you."
With a reassuring smile towards Lian Jun, he still didn't grasp the other implications behind his earlier words.
As Lian Jun watched Shi Jin's serious expression, he couldn't help but feel both helpless and amused. It seemed like this person always found a way to interpret any ambiguous atmosphere, words, or actions as something else entirely.
But strangely enough, he never made anyone angry. Instead, he made people unconsciously sigh at how cute he was for being so foolish.
"Okay, wait for me," Lian Jun nodded, propping himself up and giving Shi Jin a hug before retreating back to bed, pulling up the covers and taking the initiative to say, "Goodnight, see you tomorrow."
Shi Jin had already gotten used to his embrace and naturally replied with a goodnight before getting up to help him turn off all the lights and quietly leaving the room.
In the blink of an eye, ten days had passed. On a certain day in early April, Shi Jin pushed Lian Jun to the port and, under the arrangement of Number One and the others, boarded a ship, ready to leave the island.
"Next time we come here, it will probably be the end of the year or next year," said Shi Jin, leaning on the railing of the ship and watching the Moon Bay gradually disappear. He felt a little reluctant to leave.
Lian Jun sat beside him, also gazing at the island that was getting farther away. His eyes scanned every place on the island where they had stopped together, and he said, "If you like, we can come earlier at the end of the year. By then, my health should be better, and I can accompany you for fishing."
During the entire vacation, Shi Jin had been studying, and all the weekends that he could have enjoyed were spent with Lian Jun. They didn't have time to try out the more time-consuming activities on the island, which was a pity.
Upon hearing Lian Jun's words, Shi Jin smiled and said, "That would be great. Young Master Jun, you must work hard to take care of your health. You can't lie to me."
When Lian Jun saw him smile again, he felt a little relieved and smiled back, saying, "I definitely won't deceive you."
On the small platform outside the driver's cabin, Number One and Number Two leaned against the railing, watching Lian Jun and Shi Jin chatting and smiling on the deck. They exchanged a glance, remained silent for a few seconds, and finally Number Two spoke up, "Is Young Master Jun planning to trap Shi Jin first? The atmosphere between them seems to have changed a lot."
In the past, Shi Jin wouldn't dare to act so casually in front of Lian Jun, let alone boldly interfere in everything.
"Shi Jin is too foolish. This method seems to be the most effective for now," Number One said without giving Shi Jin any face, but his expression was noticeably gentler than usual. After a pause, he added, "Young Master Jun smiles a lot these days."
As Number Two noticed the way Lian Jun turned his head and smiled at Shi Jin, he was mesmerized for a moment and exclaimed, "His aura has become much gentler and softer... The meeting is about to start, I wonder if this is a good thing or a bad thing."
Number One quickly restrained his expression and said, "Young Master Jun has a good sense of propriety."
"I know, but I'm afraid those cunning people will see through something," Number Two said, recalling the situation of previous meetings. His eyes gradually turned cold as he spoke in a low voice, "I just hope there won't be any fools causing trouble this year, otherwise we'll all have to suffer the consequences."
"In our line of work, fools are never in short supply," Number One retorted coldly, his expression mocking. He didn't expect this year's meeting to pass peacefully.
After two days of sailing, Lian Jun's progress bar, which had been steady and unmoving, finally increased to 600. Shi Jin's own progress bar also increased, but only to 500. It wasn't much, but it was still an improvement.
Shi Jin sighed, "I think I've been influenced by Lian Jun. These meetings with the underworld bosses are really dangerous."
Xiao Si tried to comfort him, "Don't worry, Jin Jin. My baby will protect you."
But Shi Jin didn't feel comforted at all. His mood inexplicably became even more downcast.
Yes, everyone thought that even if something happened, Lian Jun would find a way to protect them. But if they all encountered danger together, who would protect Lian Jun? After all, he was just an ordinary person with a mortal body, not a mythical figure with three heads and six arms.
Another day passed, and on the third evening, the government's ship finally appeared on the horizon.
It was a large civilian vessel, not a military one, and seemed much less threatening than anticipated.
Number One ordered the ship to stop and scanned the surrounding waters with radar to ensure there were no hidden threats before establishing contact with the officials on board. Then, Number Two and Number One led a small team to the ship under the guise of helping with accommodations, but in reality, they were there to observe the situation.
It was already late and the main group didn't need to board the official ship tonight. Shi Jin looked around the deck and noticed that the temperature outside was low. He couldn't help but tighten his thick coat and glance at the dark sea. In his mind, he asked Xiao Si, "If someone falls into the sea at this temperature, how long can they survive?"
Xiao Si trembled and asked, "Jin Jin, are you setting a flag for yourself?"
Shi Jin's expression stiffened. He realized that the question did sound like setting a flag. He couldn't help but imagine himself falling into the sea and swallowed his saliva before asking, "If I accidentally fall in, can you give me a buff to stay alive?"
Xiao Si thought seriously and replied, "Mermaid buff? I can temporarily turn you into a fish."
Turn into a fish???
Shi Jin's expression twisted slightly as he cautiously stepped back, silently deciding to stay away from the sea and avoid any possible situation where he might end up in the water.