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As soon as the results came out, the atmosphere in the living room relaxed and warmed up.
Everyone began to discuss Shi Jin’s achievements, unable to conceal their pride and joy—there was nothing more exhilarating than the child who was thought to be a poor student getting one of the top places in an exam!

After the initial commotion subsided, Gua Five and Gua Nine called Mr.
Feng and Gua One respectively, reporting the happy news.
Gua Two busied himself with preparing a party, ready and eager to celebrate Shi Jin’s accomplishments.

Uncle Long’s tense expression also relaxed.
Letting out a hum, he said, still unwilling to give up, “With this score, you could easily get into a medical university.”

Shi Jin flinched, woken from his shock.
He grabbed the laptop and rushed to sit at least three meters away from Uncle Long, then turned to look at Lian Jun next to him.

“Congratulations.” Lian Jun also smiled and leaned over to put an arm around his back in a half-hug.
With his other hand, he tapped the laptop’s touchpad to light up the screen, looked at the score on it, then kissed Shi Jin’s ear.
“Exceptional results, well done.
What kind of reward do you want?”

For a moment, Shi Jin was in a daze.
When he noticed that everyone was watching him, he was a little embarrassed and let out a cough, but didn’t break away from Lian Jun’s arm.
Looking at him sideways, he asked, “There is a reward?”

“Yes,” Lian Jun confirmed.
“What do you want?” 

Shi Jin’s eyebrows immediately flew up, and the words “Let’s go on a date” almost rushed out from his mouth, but he caught sight of Gua Two out of the corner of his eye and hastened to swallow them again.
After pondering for a moment, he pretended to be distressed and said, “I don’t know, you asked so suddenly—can I think about it and give you an answer later?”

Amused, Lian Jun put his arm around Shi Jin’s waist to hug him tighter and replied, “Of course you can.
You can think as long as you like, I’ll wait for you.”

In his mind, Shi Jin yelled an excited, ‘Yes!’ Delighted, he gave Lian Jun a kiss and happily began to plan the details of his long-awaited date.

That day, the club was bustling with noise and excitement as everyone put down their work and got together to enjoy the happiness of ordinary people.
After a lively lunch, Lian Jun asked for a mahjong table to be set up and accompanied Shi Jin to play.

The afternoon passed like that, and what awaited them in the evening was the “official” celebration party.
Everyone enjoyed themselves; as Lian Jun’s attitude showed he wasn’t going to be a party-pooper and intervene, Shi Jin, the day’s protagonist, was poured several glasses of wine.

The fun lasted past 9 p.m.
Despite being half-drunk, Shi Jin never forgot that Lian Jun needed to get an early rest, and thus broke up the party and let everyone disperse.

After returning to their room, Shi Jin pushed Lian Jun to the bathroom.
First, he turned the faucet on to let the tub fill, then dragged over a small bathroom stool, sat in front of Lian Jun, put his hands on his lover’s legs, and leaned forward.
He didn’t dare to put his body weight on them, though, and only pressed them lightly.
“Do they hurt?” he asked.

Lian Jun looked at his half-drunk eyes, raised his hand to smooth his hair, and said, shaking his head, “No.”

“Do you like drinking?” Shi Jin asked.
His eyes were a little hazy because of the intoxication, a hint of care and tenderness shining through.

Lian Jun couldn’t resist touching the corner of his eye.
“Yes, I like it.”

“What a coincidence, I like it too.” Shi Jin smiled, satisfied, and said, “In the evening after work, I’d like to go to the night market with you.
We will stroll around, going this way and then that way, and then have a midnight snack, and then we’ll have a drink together… You look so good, maybe some hooligans will want to harass you, and I will jump in to save the beauty… Yeah!”

Amused, Lian Jun knocked on his forehead.
“You should drink in moderation.”

“I know.” The smile on Shi Jin’s face softened.
He took Lian Jun’s hand and kneaded it gently, lowering his head.
“Most wine should be drunk in moderation, but there’s some wine that must be drunk, like a wedding toast… Hurry up and get better, Lian Jun, you can’t miss out on that wine.”

Lian Jun felt a tug on all of his heartstrings.
Now he was sure Shi Jin was drunk—though the younger man was warm-hearted and thoughtful, and you could feel his love as he showed it through his actions, it was rare for him to be so straightforward when he expressed it in words.
Sometimes, Lian Jun was even confused as to how Shi Jin, who grew up in such a dysfunctional family, could hold so much kindness and love.

Fortunately, this wonderful person was caught by him.

He didn’t drink, but all of a sudden he felt a little drunk.
He held Shi Jin’s face and leaned forward to touch their foreheads together.
Looking into the youth’s eyes, moist and glistening from inebriation, he asked, “Shi Jin, do you love me?”

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Shi Jin blinked and looked into the other man’s beautiful eyes as well, his consciousness captured by the tenderness and expectation inside.
Bit by bit, he sank into that gaze, falling deeper and deeper.
Reaching out to touch Lian Jun, he said, “You look so good…”

“Do you like me?” a soft voice continued to ask, bewitching and alluring.

Shi Jin nodded without hesitation.
“I like you, I like you very much.”

Consequently, the tenderness and expectation in Lian Jun’s eyes were joined by contentment and joy. “I like you too… I love you, Shi Jin,” he said.

Xiao Si: <…Gwack—!!!>

That duck-like cry shook Shi Jin’s confused mind back into a semblance of consciousness.
Eyes wide, he stared at Lian Jun in front of him.
Suddenly, he took a breath and his expression became serious.
He grabbed Lian Jun’s neck to pull his head down, looked up, and gave his nose a hard chomp.

“Mine,” he said.
After this brief period of clarity, his eyes immediately glazed over again.
He buried his head in Lian Jun’s chest and pulled him into his arms, announcing childishly, “Mine, my Darling, no one is allowed to snatch.”

Bitten, Lian Jun was stunned for a moment, then broke into a smile at Shi Jin’s words, his expression indescribably content and brilliant.
He lowered his head to bump their foreheads together again, hugged him tight, and replied, “Yes, I’m yours.”

My everything is yours.

Late next morning, Shi Jin sat up in bed, holding his painfully throbbing forehead.
He looked around, but the room was empty and no movement could be heard nearby.
Letting out a groan of pain, he patted around for his phone to check the time, and found he had several missed calls and unread messages.

There were three missed calls, two from Shi Weichong and one from Fei Yujing, all between 9:30 and 10:00 last evening.

Shi Jin struggled to recall—he seemed to have pushed Lian Jun to the bathroom to take a bath and left the phone on the bed.
He shook his head and checked the messages.

There were six of them.
The first one, sent around 8 p.m.
last night, was from Gua One; it said that when Gua Three called him to inform him about Shi Jin’s exam results, Fei Yujing was passing by and overheard them, so Shi Jin should mentally prepare for the possibility Fei Yujing might harass him.

The second came from Fei Yujing, only a few minutes after Gua One’s, and was extremely short: [How many points did you get?]

The third one was sent by Shi Weichong and was similar to Fei Yujing’s, also inquiring about Shi Jin’s college entrance exam results.

The fourth and fifth were from Xiang Aoting and Li Jiuzheng respectively.
They congratulated Shi Jin on his good score and asked about his preferred universities.

The last message was from Fei Yujing again: [Why aren’t you answering the phone?]

Shi Jin dropped his phone and fell back on the bed, feeling his headache getting worse.

These brothers were really impossible to make sense of.
Especially Fei Yujing—wasn’t he pretty busy in L country, helping Old Ghost? How come he still managed to find the time to eavesdrop and gossip?

Shi Jin could almost see Fei Yujing’s appearance when texting the rest of the brothers, “telling on” Shi Jin after overhearing Gua One and Gua Three’s conversation.

It was really… childish.

And Rong Zhouzhong, who neither called nor texted to ask about his results, seemed a bit cute all of a sudden.

The second Shi Jin thought that, quiet music sounded and his phone lit up.

His eyebrows jumped and an ominous feeling appeared in his heart.
He reached for the phone—indeed, he saw the name of his third brother, who he’d just called cute.

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Expressionless, he hung up, decisively muted the phone, and pulled the quilt over his head.

He slept for a while, then was dragged out of bed by Lian Jun who’d returned after finishing his exercise.
Once he’d taken a quick wash to wake up, he accompanied Lian Jun to the study.

“Drink some porridge to pad your stomach, but don’t eat too much—lunch is coming soon,” Lian Jun said, settling Shi Jin on the sofa and putting the porridge the kitchen staff brought in front of him.
“Does your head hurt?”

Shi Jin drank half a glass of warm water to moisten his throat.
He shook his head at Lian Jun’s question and replied, “No, I’m fine.
I didn’t drink much yesterday.” In fact, it was because Xiao Si gave him a buff; his headache had disappeared by the time he went to wash his face.

Seeing he truly seemed fine, Lian Jun was relieved and didn’t contradict his words about not drinking much.
After waiting for the teenager to finish breakfast, he took out a stack of school application forms.

Shi Jin froze.
“These are…”

“The exam results are out, so now it’s time to apply to schools,” Lian Jun replied, putting the application forms in front of him.
“I talked to the official side and selected a few schools that are suitable for you.
You did well on the exam, so there are several more schools available for you to choose than I expected; I contacted them early this morning and asked them to send their application forms.
Take a look and tell me which one you like, so I can make the arrangements.”

Shi Jin glanced at the documents in front of him.
Finding that there were also the application forms of several prestigious schools that he hadn’t even dared to think of, he let out a small gasp of surprise.
“These are—would I get admitted? My score isn’t high enough.”

“It is,” Lian Jun affirmed.
“You are different from ordinary candidates—you have several military achievements, which means you can be enrolled by special rules.”

“Military achievements? What are you talking about?” Shi Jin asked, confused.

At this, Lian Jun simply moved his wheelchair over to him and explained in detail.

It turned out that Lian Jun began to make preparations as soon as he found out Shi JIn wanted to attend a police academy.
First, he improved Shi Jin’s background a bit: he found a way to squeeze Shi Jin’s name into a military academy preparatory school.
Then, he contacted the government and readjusted the Pockmarked Yuan mission file a little, making Shi Jin’s part official (originally, Shi Jin’s participation was confidential since he was a member of an underworld organization, not the police or military forces).

So now, Shi Jin was not only a military prep school student, but a military prep school student who took part in an official mission and helped the authorities to clean up an illegal underworld organization, gaining military merit.
As such, getting enrolled through special circumstances was perfectly reasonable.

Shi Jin was dumbfounded.
“Is something like this okay?”

“Of course it is—you took part in the mission, the file isn’t fake.
You have enough merits to get into any university you want to,” Lian Jun said, his expression relaxed.
It was clear he was in a good mood.

Seeing that Shi Jin was still in a daze, he reached out to smooth his hair and continued, “Actually, the Pockmarked Yuan mission isn’t the only task you did.
When you first came to B city, you acted with Gua Two to prevent a retired official from leaking confidential information abroad, and then there are also your accomplishments when dealing with Gunfire in L country.
However, considering those are a bit too eye-catching, I only asked the officials to reveal your part in the Pockmarked Yuan task.
Never doubt your ability, Shi Jin—you deserve the best.”

With Lian Jun praising and boasting him like that, Shi Jin was successfully coaxed, his shock and uncertainty finally dissipating.
Looking at the whole row of application forms in front of him, he suddenly felt like an emperor pondering which concubine he should bestow his favor upon this night.

To be honest, it was quite a cool feeling.

“Then…” His gaze moved between the forms.
He stretched out his hand, hesitated, and picked one of the most inconspicuous ones.
“This one.
I want to go there.”

Lian Jun looked at the form in his hand, a bit surprised.
“This one? Are you sure?”

“Yes.” Shi Jin nodded, somewhat sheepish.
“I said it before, that I want to go to a police academy.
These military schools are very good, but it means getting entangled with the authorities.
Being a policeman is better—a soldier can’t choose where he gets assigned, but policemen are civil servants and can pick where they want to work.
Besides, it’s more leisurely and there’s much less intrigue and scheming.
I don’t want to go to a prestigious military academy and be a military officer—I’m satisfied with just being an ordinary policeman.”

Hearing him say so, Lian Jun’s eyes softened.

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Despite having more and better options, Shi Jin still persisted with his original choice.
While some would perhaps say he lacked ambition, it should rather be called sticking to his ideals.

The man he liked never seemed to be blinded by temptation, always knowing exactly what he wanted, walking forward with unwavering resolve.

He couldn’t help but confirm again, “Are you certain?”

“I am,” Shi Jin nodded, then suddenly hesitated.
“Am I too willful? If I chose this, all your previous arrangements will be wasted.” With his exam results, he could easily get into any police academy—military merits or no, it didn’t make a difference.

Lian Jun shook his head.
“It doesn’t matter.
This school isn’t a bad choice—not only it’s easier to take leave, but the authorities also wouldn’t be as wary of you.”

Shi Jin was relieved to hear that.
Since Lian Jun really didn’t look upset, he hurried to ask, “You can take leave from a police academy? How?”

“It’s easy, the school just has to be informed you’re a part of the military reserve forces and could be called away on a task at any time.
I’ll talk to the officials about that and let you know as soon as it’s confirmed,” Lian Jun replied.
He looked at him sideways and tossed out an abrupt question, “Have you decided what reward you want?”

It took Shi Jin by surprise, but he still shook his head with a serious expression.
“No, I’m still thinking.”

If you’re seeing this notice, you’re reading this chapter on pirate site – the original translator of Death Progress Bar is Betwixted Translations.

After lunch, everyone knew that Shi Jin had still rejected the offer of choosing between famous military schools in favor of attending a police academy.

Uncle Long was so angry that he stormed off, growling that “rotten wood can’t be carved”.
Gua Two, suffering from a hangover, kneaded his forehead with despair.
Gua Nine, an expression of ‘I knew it would be like this’ on his face, continued to hammer on the keyboard of his laptop.
Only Gua Five’s attitude was still friendly, and he congratulated Shi Jin.

Shi Jin thanked Gua Five.
No matter other people’s opinions, he’d finally lifted that huge weight off his chest, and he threw himself into making preparations for the date.

A few more days later, it came time for examinees to officially fill in the preferred universities.
Everyone once again gathered around the small living room, sighing as they watched Shi Jin type the name of the police academy in the first column.

“At least put something else in the second column?” Gua Two still didn’t give up the fight.

Ignoring him, Shi Jin filled in the name of the police academy he’d attended in his last life in the second column, then clicked ‘Submit’.

And so, Shi Jin’s university application process was completed, his career path—a police officer—continued from his previous life.

Gua Two sighed and poked Shi Jin in the back of the head.
“You little traitor.”

Shi Jin closed the laptop lid and rebutted seriously, “Why am I a traitor? Graduating from a police academy takes four years.
Who knows what the world will look like after four years? Maybe you’d have already gone back to living the lives of ordinary people and would be using your real names.
Then, when I become a policeman, not only would I not be a traitor, but wouldn’t I be someone who can protect everyone out in the open, without hiding? Isn’t that good?”

When he said that, everyone stared at him blankly, their expressions stunned.

The lives of ordinary people… Indeed, when it was put like that, Shi Jin seemed to have made a good choice.

Lian Jun looked at the teenager, his thoughts far away for a moment.

Four years? No, with how the situation was developing, it would take far less time than that for everything to collapse.
At most three years—no, perhaps only two years later, their efforts would bear fruit.

A day after completing the application, Shi Jin was once again harassed by his five brothers’ calls and messages.

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He was so annoyed he nearly blacklisted all of them several times, but remembering the progress bar, he managed to resist.
In the end, he selected the five of them as recipients and sent them a simple message through the messaging app: [600, police academy, stop asking]. Then, he dragged them into the blacklist of the app.

The world finally quiet, Shi Jin made himself comfortable on the sofa, picked up his tablet, and prepared to continue with planning the date.

Three minutes later, his phone started ringing like crazy.

Taking a deep breath to maintain his temper, he picked it up from the coffee table.
Seeing it was Shi Weichong, he counted to ten inside his head, then answered the call.
“Yes, what can I do for you?” he asked straightforwardly, cutting to the chase.

Shi Weichong didn’t seem to expect him to answer the phone.
It took him a while before he managed to say, {Zhouzhong’s birthday is this weekend, so everyone is going to get together for dinner.
Will you come?}

Huh? Rong Zhouzhong’s birthday?

Shi Jin was taken aback.
Suddenly, he remembered that Rong Zhouzhong had called him one morning, but he’d hung up the call without even answering.
He opened the calendar on his tablet, looked at the note added to the coming weekend, and narrowed his eyes.
“Third Brother’s birthday, you say?” he chirped, his tone suddenly warm and friendly.
“When exactly is the get-together, and where? If I have nothing else, it’s possible I’ll come over.”

Shi Weichong was shocked again.
His voice rose in an instant and a trace of happiness could be heard in it as he replied, {In the restaurant on XXX street, in the evening.
Do you want me to pick you up?}

“No, I’ll get there by myself.
Is that all? All right, I’ll get back to you later.” Shi Jin hung up, tapped a certain date on the tablet’s calendar, and chuckled.

He had been worried because he couldn’t find an excuse to take Lian Jun out this Sunday—who could’ve known Shi Weichong would provide the perfect one? Very good, with this, he should be able to give Lian Jun a complete surprise.

Just, Rong Zhouzhong’s birthday…

He sat up, let out a slightly guilty cough, and opened an online shopping page.
Then he frowned—he wanted to choose a gift to “compensate” his third brother, but all of a sudden, he seemed not to remember what Rong Zhouzhong hated or was afraid of.

On Sunday, Shi Jin accompanied Lian Jun to his exercise as usual.
Then, at lunch, he told him about Rong Zhouzhong’s birthday.

Lian Jun was surprised.
“You want to go?” He was well aware that Shi Jin tried to keep away from his brothers, so the teenager’s sudden wish to attend Rong Zhouzhong’s birthday was strange, to say the least.

“Well, actually I want to take revenge,” Shi Jin said, a little embarrassed.
He took out a centipede pillow from the bag beside his feet.
“When my third brother found out that I didn’t like eating cucumbers, he deliberately bought me a cucumber pillow.
Now that he gave me an opportunity for revenge, I definitely won’t miss it!”


Lian Jun paused.
He put down his chopsticks, glanced at his solemn and serious face, then at the cartoon centipede pillow in his hand.
After a few seconds of silence, he gave a nod and said, “All right, then I’ll let Gua Two take you there.”

Given an inch, Shi Jin immediately rushed to take a mile.
“Come with me, please? They’re all single dogs, but I have you—I’m going to show you off and make them angry!”

This was very childish, but Lian Jun swallowed it hook, line, and sinker.

His frowning eyebrows relaxed straight away, and a slightly helpless smile even appeared on his face.
“Okay, I’ll go with you.”

“I’ll inform Uncle Long!” Shi Jin jumped to his feet and stuffed the pillow back into the bag, saying happily, “The restaurant is a bit far, so we should leave soon.
Eat slowly, I’ll call Gua Two to be our driver!”

After that, he turned around and rushed away, texting while running: [Plan, start!]

Translator’s Notes:

“In the evening after work, I’d like to go to the night market with you” – night markets or night bazaars are street markets which operate at night and are generally dedicated to more leisurely strolling, shopping, and eating than more businesslike day markets.
They are typically open-air markets.
(Wikipedia) “…But there’s some wine that must be drunk, like a wedding toast“ – literally, “cross-cupped wine”; it’s the formal exchange of cups of wine between bride and groom as traditional wedding ceremony.

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