Chapter 39: Egg Cakes

Shi Jin soon regretted making a bet with Lian Jun.

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“That’s impossible, how could I lose? I clearly counted the tiles!” Shi Jin said, punching the air in frustration, grimacing.

Xiao Si consoled,

Shi Jin sighed, dispirited.
“But now I can’t ask Jun-shao to help me investigate my brothers’ mothers.”

the system replied innocently.

“That would make me owe him a favor.
Then, I won’t have righteousness on my side when I force him to drink soup!” Shi Jin’s thoughts ran deep.

The system kept silent for a moment, then muttered,

“I didn’t hear you clearly, can you repeat what you just said?” Shi Jin’s tone was menacing.

Xiao Si swallowed back its words and enthusiastically suggested, “You can ask Darling to play with you again.
You lost once, but I’m sure you’ll win next time! Don’t give up, JinJin! I believe in you!>

Shi Jin thought it made sense, and the fire in his heart rekindled.
“Yes, with my skills, losing is a complete accident! I’m sure to win next time!” He grabbed the tablet and dashed through the RV.

He returned to his seat ten minutes later and plopped down, heaving a sigh.
“The dealing system has to be biased against me—Lian Jun gets all the good tiles, and I useless ones.
Now, I need to make him a birthday cake every year… Oh, by the way, when is his birthday?”

Xiao Si rattled off,

Taken aback, Shi Jin glanced at his phone’s calendar and found that Lian Jun’s birthday was nearly here—this year, Lunar New Year came later than usual.
Now, it was already the end of February; spring was not even a month away.

The system twittered on,

The longer Shi Jin listened, the more suspicious he became.
He felt that Xiao Si’s tone was a bit too cheerful and expectant, as if it’d long know things would turn out that way.
Frowning, he recalled the two games, then thought about the betting stakes Xiao Si proposed.
He said through clenched teeth, “Xiao Si, it was you, right? You manipulated the app and made it deal bad tiles to me!”

Xiao Si jumped in fright, and stammered,

Shi Jin got goosebumps because of all these “nest greasy.” At this point, he was certain it was Xiao Si’s scheme, and said with indignation, “Lian Jun is your Darling so you only care about him, huh? He’s your son, and I’m your stepchild!”

The system squawked.

“Bullshit!” Shi Jin nearly banged his fist on the table.

The other people in the RV saw Shi Jin sulking in the corner, glowering at his tablet as if he wanted to eat it raw.
Apparently, he blamed it for losing.

Gua Two couldn’t look at it any longer.
He said, with a hard to describe expression on his face, “He hurt his shoulder, not his head, right? How come he looks even more stupid?”

Gua Three and Gua Five also couldn’t stand it anymore.
Looking as if they wanted to speak but bit their tongues, they kept sending Lian Jun covert glances.

Lian Jun was talking business with Gua One, but noticing that everyone’s attention was on him, he looked sideways at Shi Jin.
He tapped on the wheelchair armrest, then moved it to Shi Jin’s side.
Pulling the tablet out of the teenager’s hand, he said, “Let’s play again.
If I win, you will pick up your lessons.
If I lose, I promise to fulfil your request.”

Shi Jin stopped the childish squabble with Xiao Si, and his eyes lit up, but then he frowned and asked, “Lessons? What lessons?”

Lian Jun already opened the mahjong app.
“High school lessons.”

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“High school lessons?” Shi Jin was somewhat confused.

What high school lessons? He’d graduated from college years ago already.
Why did he have to pick up the high school lessons?

Xiao Si reminded him in his mind,

Shi Jin: “…”

The system twisted the knife:

Shi Jin: “……” Fuck, what do the gangsters need the university diplomas for?

“You don’t want to?” Lian Jun wasn’t going to talk nonsense with him.
He put the tablet in front of him and stressed, “You only have one chance.”

Shi Jin’s heard beat harder—it was a difficult choice.
Finally, he gritted his teeth and nodded.
“Fine!” This time, Xiao Si was strictly prohibited from helping Lian Jun win again.
He didn’t believe he could lose now that his system wasn’t cheating!

However, reality proved him wrong—the tile dealing system continued to target him.

Lifeless, Shi Jin collapsed in his seat.
He truly wanted to unistall the damn app.

Gua Two, who looked on the fun, couldn’t stop himself from laughing out loud.
Daring to gamble with Jun-shao? Really, Shi Jin was asking for it.

“As long as you continue your studies, I can do one thing for you.” Lian Jun put the tablet back on the table and asked, “What do you want me to help you check?”

Shi Jin sat up and looked at him, suspecting he had heard wrong.

Lian Jun put his chin on his hand and watched Shi Jin’s silly expression.
His face eased a bit.
His tone gentle, he asked again, “Shi Jin, what do you want me to help you with?”

The sun shone through the window.
The beautiful man, illuminated by the sunlight, was cocking his head and smiling.

Shi Jin was stunned by Lian Jun’s lazy, comfortable appearance, and it took him a moment to recover.
Then, he threw himself forward and grabbed the other man’s legs, shouting excitedly, “Please help me check the situation of my brothers’ mothers and their families, the more specific, the better! Jun-shao, you are such a great person!”

Lian Jun was shoved back by Shi Jin’s lunge.
His eyebrows rose slightly.
He put his hand on the teenager’s forehead and steadily pushed him away, then moved his wheelchair back to Gua One.

Shi Jin dropped in his seat and leaned back.
“Jun-shao is really a good man…” He said happily.

Xiao Si affectionately touched his emotionally retarded brain, then, without needing to be asked, it transferred the high school textbooks to his memory.

Shi Jin: “…” Suddenly, I want to cry.

Back in B City, Lian Jun spent two days working with the authorities to deal with the remnants of Black Rose and their main base.
Then, he spent a lot of effort to suppress most of the still-existing business of Black Rose, causing the officials to join in and launch a campaign to completely wipe it out.

Puzzled, Shi Jin grabbed Gua Two and asked, “Didn’t Jun-shao say it wasn’t the right time to deal with Black Rose? He said he was simply going to give them a lesson this time.
How come he suddenly made such a big move against them?”

Gua Two looked at him strangely.
“Don’t you know?”

Shi Jin shook his head and frowned at him.
“None of you said anything, how would I know?”

“Then you don’t need to know.” Gua Two turned around to leave.

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Shi Jin pulled him back, glaring at him threateningly.

Gua Two looked up to heaven and sighed, then explained, “It’s because Black Rose went too far this time and made Jun-shao angry.
Thanks to their stupidity, they gave Jun-shao the excuse to clean them up.
On New Year’s Eve, there was a firefight just outside the residential area.
What do you think the authorities can charge them with?”

“Um, rioting? Threatening public safety?” Shi Jin thought for a while, but could only come up with this.

Gua Two shook his head with a profound expression on his face, then patted the teenager’s shoulder.
“Young man, you should watch the news more often.
Organizations the size of Black Rose are legal; neither of the two crimes you mentioned can justify dealing with them.” After saying that, he took advantage of Shi Jin thinking and made a run for it.

Shi Jin was bewildered.
If that wasn’t the reason, then what was?

Full of doubts, he kept watching the news for several days.
Then, he saw an official news broadcast and finally knew—the government actually classified the firefight in front of Unity Community as the terrorist attack by Black Rose.

The difference between the threat level of rioting and a terrorist attack was like heaven and earth.
Shi Jin silently lit a candle for Black Rose in his heart—now that the seriousness of the incident rose to this extent, they were never going to wriggle off the hook.

In a blink of an eye, another few days passed, and Shi Jin’s wound healed completely.
He took time to go to the infirmary and have a chat with Uncle Long.
Then, after dinner that day, he took a bunch of things he’d prepared and went to Lian Jun’s study.

Lian Jun looked up.
“What are these?”

“Something for your massage.” Shi Jin put his burden on the desk and sat before it.
He looked at Lian Jun, looked at the documents in his hand, then looked at the wall clock.
His meaning was obvious.

Lian Jun moved his gaze back to the document and asked, “Is your wound fine?”

“Uncle Long said it’s all right.
Now I can move my arm without worrying about pulling the wound,” Shi Jin replied, raising his arm to prove his words.

Lian Jun didn’t raise his head.
“Then go back to your room and pack, we’re about to leave for the island.
Don’t take winter clothes, it’s warm there—you won’t need anything warmer than a light jacket.”

Surprised, Shi Jin asked, “We’re leaving at this time? Aren’t you still dealing with Black Rose?”

Though Gua Two often said that after New Year, they would go to the island and catch crabs, since everyone returned to B City, they were busy with the Black Rose’s matter.
He’d thought they would stay in City B for a long time.

“That’s the government’s business, we’ve helped enough.” Lian Jun signed the document.
Glancing at the things on the table, he added, “The massage will wait until we get to the island.”

Shi Jin was sorry to hear that.
In truth, he’d long wanted to check the state of Lian Jun’s legs—he heard the muscles of people who don’t walk would slowly atrophy, and was a bit worried.

It was his negligence; he was only paying attention to Lian Jun’s eating habits and forgot he also needed to take care of his legs.
If he hadn’t seen Lian Jun stand up in the cemetery that day, he still wouldn’t have thought about it.

“It will be a long time before we arrive at the island.
Don’t you want to try it first? Look, I brought everything…” Unwilling to give up, Shi Jin pointed to the massage tools on the desk.

Lian Jun read the documents intently, refusing without a word.

Shi Jin sneakily moved his chair to his side.

Lian Jun suddenly put down the file and looked at him.
“How’s your studying going?”

“Uh…” Shi Jin froze.

“You should do what you promised.” Lian Jun moved his wheelchair to the bookcase and took a set of textbooks from a lower shelf.
“You used to go to school in M country.
Their teaching program is different to the one in China, in the beginning, it may be a bit difficult for you to adapt.
Come here, I’ll explain it to you.”

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Shi Jin glanced at the textbook in the man’s hand, and his heart sank.
Awkwardly, he tried to refuse: “That’s, um, you don’t have to.
Aren’t you busy? I can see you are, I’ll stop bothering you…”

Lian Jun touched the remote control on his desk and locked the door of his study.

Shi Jin heard the click of the lock and paused in the middle of getting up, and glanced at Lian Jun, who’d already moved to the tea table.
His shoulders slumping in resignation, he sat next to him.

Lian Jun poured him a cup of warm water, handed him a pen and notebook, and opened the textbook.

The massage turned into the test of knowledge.
For Shi Jin, this was a fate worse for death; during the whole time, his face was stiff and he wished to find a hole to hide himself in.
It’s been years since he graduated from high school and he forgot almost everything.
Right now, “I don’t know” was his answer to nearly every question.

Two long and torturous hours later, Lian Jun put down the textbook and watched Shi Jin in silence.

Shi Jin lowered his head and abstractedly started doodling in his notebook, not daring to look up.

“I’ll get you a few teachers after we arrive on the island,” Lian Jun said.
His tone was unexpectedly mild, like that of a parent who didn’t dare to criticize his child, who is a poor student, too much for fear of destroying his self-confidence.
“You’re good at languages and have a solid foundation, and you can make up for the subjects you’re weaker in.”

Shi Jin didn’t feel comforted.
He looked at him lifelessly and asked, “Jun-shao, do you want to send me to college?”

Lian Jun didn’t answer but asked instead, “Do you want to go to college?”

“I don’t want to.” Shi Jin’s reply was quick and decisive.
He’d already graduated once, a second time was entirely superfluous.
Right now, his focus was on keeping his life—studying at college was not a part of his plans at all.

“Why not?”

Shi Jin answered honestly, “First, because I don’t like studying, second, because it’s not the right time.
Right now, everyone is working for the bright future—I don’t want to run off by myself.
Jun-shao, if you dislike my lack of education so much, I’ll go to college later, after the dust settles.
I’m not in a hurry.”

“It’s not because I dislike your lack of education.” Lian Jun’s voice was still gentle and calm.
“I’m just afraid you’ll regret it later.
Shi Jin, a lot of knowledge and skills are needed to survive in this world, and this basic knowledge is the foundation of all of them.
Right now, you think it’s fine if you don’t learn it, but you may not think so in the future.
I won’t force you to conform to the path of ordinary people, but you have to understand one thing—only strong are respected.
There are many types of strength: martial power, knowlegde, and money.
The easiest for you to build up are the first two; when you have them, especially knowledge, it will be much easier to obtain the last one.”

Shi Jin hadn’t expected that Lian Jun would spit out such a big bowl of ‘chicken soup for the soul,’ and so earnestly.
He stared at the other man with wide eyes, and his thoughts unconsciously followed the picture painted by his words.

Yes, what Lian Jun said made a lot of sense.
If he became as powerful as Lian Jun, would the unknown murderer dare to find trouble with him? He or she would think long and hard if it’s worth it.
Just look at the fate of Black Rose after they pissed Lian Jun off—wasn’t the importance of power obvious?

He hugged Lian Jun’s thigh, and his progress bar instantly decreased a lot.
If he himself was strong, as strong as Lian Jun, who would dare to provoke him? Then, wouldn’t the bar fall by itself?

Shi Weichong? Li Jiuzheng? If he had the power Lian Jun had, would he need to care about them? Would it be possible for them to hurt him? Was Lian Jun ever afraid of his brothers? Not even once.

Shi Jin was more and more excited, and the courage swelled in his chest.
He thought his brain must not have been working—he kept getting worked up because of the external influence of the lethal factors, forgetting that he himself was the biggest factor affecting the progress bar.
Elated, he couldn’t help but grab Lian Jun’s hand and say earnestly, “Jun-shao, I understand, you’re completely right.
I’ll work hard and try my best to become such a powerful man as you!”

Lian Jun: “…”


Shi Jin was evicted out of the study.
Not only that, Lian Jun even gave him a look full of disgust before throwing him out.

“What the hell, why did he suddenly get angry? Didn’t I listen to him and decide to study hard?” Shi Jin was completely baffled.

Xiao Si heaved a sigh.
It said quietly,  And a lot of EQ.

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Shi Jin’s eyebrows knitted.
A moment later, he became angry: “Xiao Si, haven’t you called me stupid many times lately, in a roundabout way? You’re really pushing it!”

Xiao Si shut up and played dead, pretending it was shutting down and restarting.

On the evening of Lantern Festival, the final day of the Lunar New Year celebrations, the people in Nightlight finally had time to take a break and get together to enjoy the fifteen-days-late reunion dinner.

Shi Jin personally made dumplings, deep-fried spring rolls, and Tangyuan.
He even baked a few ugly egg cakes to celebrate the arrival of the new year.

Gua Two mercilessly mocked Shi Jin’s poor cooking skills.
Shi Jin angrily stuffed a fried spring roll into his mouth, then put the best bowl of Tangyuan in front of Lian Jun.
He also sneaked him a bag of egg cakes.

“Hide them, this batch was a success.
Gua Two is an ass—he says my food tastes bad but keeps grabbing it, even though the kitchen send over a bunch of delicious dishes.
He has no sense of shame at all,” Shi Jin grumbled, making a face.
“Next time, I’m gonna put a laxative in his meal!”

Lian Jun touched the soft egg cakes in the bag and found they were still warm.
He glanced at Shi Jin.
“How come you suddenly became interested in baking?”

Shi Jin said vaguely, “You are busy, I’m bored… Oh, but I’m studying properly! I only do it during my free time!”

The corners of Lian Jun’s mouth rose.
He looked down, pinched a piece of an egg cake, put it in his mouth, and tasted carefully.
He swallowed it and nodded.
“Not bad.”

Shi Jin smiled with satisfaction.
He thought he became the first-rate “parent”—in order to let his picky “child” to eat a few more mouthfuls, he even took up cooking.

Xiao Si, who accompanied him during his mental process:

The reunion dinner finally came to an end at 9 o’clock.
Shi Jin wanted to bring in a few mahjong tables and have fun all night, but had no choice but to give up on this idea—they were flying out the next day.
After biding good night to everyone and sending Lian Jun to his room, he went back to his own room to wash and take an early rest.

He was rummaging through his wardrobe looking for pajamas when his phone rang.
Shi Jin took it out to check.
He found it was a call from Xiang Aoting, and his cheerful mood faded a bit.
He hestitated, but finally picked it up.

{Xiao Jin.} Xiang Aoting voice was tired.
{I heard you’re leaving B City soon.
I’m waiting in front of Nightlight.
Can you come out and see me? I have something to tell you.}

Shi Jin took a look at the time.
He recalled Xiang Aoting’s actions in the original novel, and let out a sigh.
He should meet with him.

In the novel, Xiang Aoting was the only brother whose attitude towards the original ‘Shi Jin’ was consistent.
Before Shi Xingrui died, he was so busy that he didn’t have much time to contact ‘him,’ and usually didn’t gave ‘him’ gifts—he only made regular phone calls.
The contents of these calls were pretty much the same: he asked about ‘Shi Jin’s’ health and studies and admonished him to be good, all in a stiff voice as if he was dealing with an assignment.
After Shi Xingrui’s death, Xiang Aoting was still busy and would still make phone calls, and they were still empty of deeper meaning.
At that time, the original ‘Shi Jin’ was already faintly aware something wasn’t right, but he thought it was yet another form of covert mockery.

Then, the kidnapping happened, and the feelings of ‘Shi Jin’ towards this brother became somewhat complicated.
‘He’ was rescued by Xiang Aoting, but the man left immediately after, not caring about him.

By the time of ‘his’ death, the original ‘Shi Jin’s’ feelings about Xiang Aoting were still complex—’he’ didn’t feel the same resentment and hatred towards him as ‘he’ did towards his other brothers.

Shi Jin, from a bystander’s point of view, had to say that the original ‘Shi Jin’ wasn’t wrong.
Out of the five brothers, perhaps only Xiang Aoting’s concern for ‘him’ was genuine, although this concern was probably very slight.

Xiang Aoting was a truly upright man.
He might’ve hated the spoiled character of ‘Shi Jin,’ and the reasons for his care might not have been pure, but he still treated ‘him’ as a younger brother.
And, at some moments, his concern should’ve been true.

So let’s meet.

Shi Jin abandoned the pajamas and put on his coat.

He needed to examine it closer—both the original ‘Shi Jin’s’ feelings towards his third brother, and Xiang Aoting’s rescue of ‘him’ from the kidnappers.

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