Later that day, there was suddenly some commotion coming from the master bedroom on the other side of the small courtyard from the guest room - it seemed that delicate and frail Lian Jun had eaten too much for dinner and was feeling unwell.
Shi Jin peeked through the door crack and asked softly, "How long will the delicious buff last?"
Xiao Si's voice was weak, "I don't know."
"You don't know your own things?" Shi Jin couldn't believe it.
Xiao Si became even more nervous, "Because I've never used this buff before, and the duration of the buff varies from person to person."
Shi Jin was helpless and asked, "So how long can it last at most?"
"O-one year?" Xiao Si wasn't too sure.
Shi Jin's face was expressionless, "...You're really great then."
Xiao Si spoke shyly, "No need to be polite, I only used a small amount of my power."
Shi Jin: "..."
The commotion of the doctor coming in and out continued until the early hours of the morning. Shi Jin saw that the progress bar in his mind belonging to Lian Jun had stopped at 620, and he sighed with worry.
Lian Jun's progress bar was really difficult to handle. It hadn't increased by 100 in five days, but just one meal could increase it by 20. The safety margin of 500 was disappearing in the blink of an eye, with one-fifth gone. Shi Jin couldn't understand how Lian Jun managed to survive in such a frustrating situation and even became a suspected leader of the underworld.
"Xiao Si, we need to come up with a plan to keep him alive," Shi Jin said, his voice muffled by the blanket. "With Lian Jun's current condition, I feel like he could die at any moment if we're not careful."
Xiao Si's voice became serious as he let out a low "Mm" and added, "Jin Jin has worked hard, thank you."
"We're in this together, no need to thank me," Shi Jin turned over and looked at the sliding door with delicate patterns not far away. After a moment of silence, he suddenly asked, "If Lian Jun dies..."
"The background of the world in the book may become unbalanced," Xiao Si answered.
Shi Jin knew exactly what book they were talking about, but even now, he still couldn't believe that he had been reborn into a book.
Forget it, why think so much? Just take it one day at a time. He pulled up the blanket and closed his eyes.
After a good night's sleep, Shi Jin woke up feeling rejuvenated. With the new buff given to him by Xiao Si, he strode confidently into the dining hall and forcefully pushed open the sliding door, shouting, "Lian Jun, I want to follow you and make it big in society!"
As he entered, a pill that Lian Jun had just picked up fell onto the table with a clatter.
The doctor standing nearby, with an impassive expression, picked up a few more pills and handed them to Lian Jun, saying, "Young Master Jun, you can keep throwing away your medicine, but I have plenty more. I'll make sure you take them."
Shi Jin quickly retreated and closed the door, saying through the door, "I'm sorry, I didn't see anything just now." In his heart, he couldn't help but marvel at how Lian Jun, who seemed so powerful, was actually like a child when it came to taking medicine. It just goes to show that everyone has their weaknesses.
As soon as the medicine was handed to him, Lian Jun's heart skipped a beat. He raised his hand, closed his eyes, and swallowed the medicine in one gulp. He looked at the old doctor and asked, "Are you happy now?"
The old doctor knew that he was a bit agitated at the moment, so he wisely didn't say anything. Instead, he gestured towards the door and changed the subject, asking, "What are you going to do with him, Young Master Jun?"
Lian Jun replied, "Of course, I'm going to pack him up and send him back to his brother--"
"No, you can't!!!" Suddenly, Shi Jin rushed in, pushing the door open with a bang. He threw himself at Lian Jun's feet and hugged his legs tightly. "Young Master Jun, you have to take me in. My brother wants me dead. You can't send me back. Please, let me stay with you. I saved your life once, remember?" He pinched his own thigh hard and looked up at Lian Jun with tears in his eyes.
"Wow." The old doctor took a step back and leaned against the wall, enjoying the show.
Lian Jun was taken aback by the sudden embrace, but then his face darkened as he said, "Let go!"
"I won't let go! It's easy to invite a god but hard to send one away. You brought me here, so you're responsible for me!" Shi Jin abandoned all shame and, taking advantage of the youth of his body, threw a tantrum. He knew that his recent brush with death had given him a significant boost, and he calculated that this was the best way to ensure success. He absolutely couldn't let go!
Lian Jun's legs were naturally weak and he couldn't kick Shi Jin away. His pale face turned slightly red, whether from anger or something else, and he tightly pursed his lips. Suddenly, he drew a dagger from his waistband and held it to Shi Jin's neck, threatening, "Let go, or I'll kill you."
As Shi Jin's body stiffened, he hesitated. Xiao Si quickly reminded him in a loud voice, "He's just trying to scare you! He won't really hurt you. Look at your progress bar, it hasn't gone up at all! Don't be afraid, go ahead and take down this treasure!"
The words were somehow a bit strange.
Shi Jin was puzzled by Xiao Si's words, but his heart settled down. He held onto Lian Jun's thigh tightly and quickly explained the situation of the Shi family. Then, he looked at Lian Jun pitifully and tried to flatter him, "Young Master Jun, you're so kind. You won't let me go back and die, right? Besides, I'm not even of age yet. Can you bear to let me wander alone in society? What if I run into real gangsters next time? I might really be done for."
With a flicker in his eyes, Lian Jun moved the dagger aside. It wasn't because he was moved by Shi Jin's pitiful story, but rather he asked, "Besides Shi Weichong, do you have four other brothers?"
"Yes, yes, they're all vicious," Shi Jin replied, revealing the scar on his wrist. "Look at this, in order to avoid being killed by my brothers, I had to fake my own suicide to buy some time and escape. So please don't send me back, I'll really die."
Lian Jun pondered for a moment, then gently shifted his weak legs and relaxed his tone. "Let go, or I'll really send you back."
Seeing him soften, Shi Jin slowly released his grip, feeling a bit nervous inside.
Ignoring the doctor who was only there to watch, Lian Jun straightened his disheveled clothes and gestured for him to leave. Once they were alone, he asked, "Is everything you said true?"
"As true as gold," Shi Jin replied confidently, trying to make his words more convincing. "Do you remember the cucumber pillow I brought with me? It had my blood on it from when I tried to commit suicide. I used it to hide my ID and cash from my eldest brother and escaped when I had the chance."
Lian Jun fell silent, looking thoughtful with his head bowed.
Shi Jin didn't dare to disturb his thoughts and just watched him eagerly.
After a few minutes, Lian Jun finally spoke. "I can let you stay."
Xiao Si screamed in excitement, "Ah ah ah ah! Jin Jin, your progress bar suddenly dropped to 780!"
Shi Jin was taken aback at first, but then he was overjoyed. When Lian Jun finally agreed to let him stay, the progress bar dropped by 100 points in an instant. Did this mean that as long as he stayed by Lian Jun's side, even if his whereabouts were exposed, the five brothers of the Shi family would not dare to easily lay a hand on him because they feared Lian Jun? And the progress bar would never fill up?
This was truly an unexpected delight! Shi Jin never imagined that Lian Jun was such a powerful treasure!
Shi Jin's happiness was written all over his face, and Lian Jun couldn't help but notice his silly and sweet smile. As he looked at him, he suddenly felt...hungry.
He glanced at the breakfast on the table, which had seemed tasteless and unappetizing before. Perplexed by his sudden hunger, he furrowed his brow and continued, "But I never keep useless people around me. Shi Jin, your background is troublesome. Based on your previous life-saving favor to me, I can let you stay, but you need to think carefully. Here, you can no longer be the young master of the Shi family. You have to follow my rules."
Shi Jin didn't hesitate to reply, "I don't want to be a young master anymore either, Young Master Jun. I will work hard to become useful and won't let you regret your decision today." This was also his way of telling Lan Jun that he didn't want to be unnecessarily sheltered, but rather wanted to truly follow Lan Jun in every sense of the word.
Lian Jun understood the hidden meaning behind his words. He tapped his slender fingers on the table and scrutinized his face before saying meaningfully, "If that's the case, then show me the proof."
Xiao Si was overjoyed and spoke incoherently, "It's at 700! Your progress bar has dropped to 700! Wahh, I'm so touched. You're amazing, and so is your progress. I love you all, and I want to see you guys succeed..."
Shi Jin, who was originally happy, interrupted, "...If you can't speak properly, then shut up, thank you."
Shi Jin, who was allowed to stay, was led by Number Three to move out of the courtyard where Lian Jun was located and into the single dormitory where Number One lived. He was given several sets of work clothes from the Flower Fruit Orchard and officially became a member.
"Our Flower Fruit Orchard is one of the largest fruit orchards in Y Province. We mainly grow fruits such as mangoes, black grapes, red grapes, pomegranates, pears, and more. The total area of the orchard is several thousand mu, including three hills, two artificial lakes, four small cultivation gardens, and some other basic facilities.
"Since you are new here, just follow Number Two to the mango orchard for now. There isn't much work there recently, so you can get familiar with the place first. As for your salary and benefits, because you came in through the back door, we will give you the same treatment as our regular employees, including room and board, and a monthly salary of 6,000 yuan."
As Shi Jin listened to Number Three's explanation, his excitement about joining the underworld was replaced by confusion. He couldn't help but ask, "Wait, you guys are part of the underworld, right? How come you're really growing fruits?"
Number Three corrected with a serious face, "We're not a gang, we do legitimate business."
Shi Jin's gaze fell on the holster at his waist, unable to find words.
"That's the basic situation. Alright, go do your job. We happen to have a batch of mangoes to transport today, over by the second gate. Hurry up and meet with Number Two, don't delay things." Number Three handed Shi Jin a map of the orchard and a new phone, and unceremoniously confiscated Shi Jin's old phone. Then he briskly walked away.
Shi Jin watched him leave, his mouth twitching. He tucked the phone away and followed the map's directions towards the second gate.