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Once all the information was sent out, Shi Jin settled in to wait with anxiety.

So far, Xiang Aoting and Shi Weichong were the only ones who hadn’t given him a reply.
Shi Jin wasn’t worried about Xiang Aoting, but as for Shi Weichong…

Lian Jun reached out and flicked Shi Jin’s forehead, waking him up from his thoughts.
“Aunt Lu sent me a file,” he said.
“It’s a video of the head of Tarantula’s B city branch talking with Xu Jie about the transaction.
Do you want to watch it?”

Shi Jin came back to himself and saw that he’d lost their game of mahjong long ago.
“I’m sorry, my mind was wandering again,” he said, embarrassed.

“It’s okay.” Lian Jun took the tablet out of his hand and passed his own tablet over, motioning towards a newly downloaded video.
“Recording the transaction process is taboo in the underworld, so we need to delete this video immediately after watching it in order to avoid damaging Tarantula’s reputation.”

Shi Jin nodded his understanding.
He looked at the file icon, taking a moment to prepare his mind before tapping it.

It was obvious that the video had been recorded in secret.
It was taken in a small, dimly lit private room in a restaurant or somewhere similar.
Xu Jie was in sight, sitting on a single sofa on one side, part of her face covered with a silk scarf.
A man could be heard talking to her, but the owner of the voice was not visible in the frame.

Xu, you’re just an ordinary businesswoman, so you may not understand what kind of existence Annihilation is in our world.
The target you designated, Shi Jin, is rumored to be the lover of Annihilation’s leader, Lian Jun.
Even Tarantula has to think twice before touching him.】

Xu Jie’s tone was unyielding: 【Don’t try to string me along—just tell me the price, I’ll give you as much money as you want.】

【Money? Ms.
Xu, it seems you have some kind of misunderstanding.
For an organization of our caliber, money is just a number that increases every day.
The wealth you’ve worked so hard all your life to accumulate might be less than the profit we make from a single batch of goods.
If you’re going to negotiate with us with such an insincere attitude, then I’m sorry but I have to ask you to leave.】

This was almost like slapping her in the face, and Xu Jie’s expression darkened.
However, just as Shi Jin thought she was about to burst, she calmed down and took out a document from her bag, pushing it forward on the table.
【My apologies, I was just in too much of a hurry.
Of course, I know that you can’t be short of money, so I prepared this instead.】

A puzzled expression crossed Shi Jin’s face.

Lian Jun paused the video and explained, “Aunt Lu told me that the document Xu Jie took out was a form to transfer shares from Ruixing.
Most likely, she offered up all the shares Shi Weichong has given her.”

Ruixing’s shares? Seriously?

Shi Jin was dumbfounded.
“Is she crazy?” he asked incredulously.
“She’s letting a criminal organization gain a stake in Ruixing? Does she think that Ruixing is developing too smoothly?”

There were many enterprises that had seen rapid growth when their sails were filled with the swift and violent winds of organizations operating outside the law.
However, no multinational corporation at Ruixing’s level had ever taken the initiative to seek such connections.

No stupid bosses would be able to develop their companies to that level.
They knew that while joining with underworld organizations would gain them exorbitant profits and convenience in the short term, in the long run, they would be unable to avoid getting dragged into the feuds and disputes of the underworld.

This was why when major organizations set up businesses to make money, they tried to conceal the connection as much as possible.
And yet, Xu Jie wanted to let Ruixing be branded with Tarantula’s involvement? Did she have a death wish?

“I think she’s too confident in Shi Weichong; she believes that he’ll definitely be able to regain that portion of the shares.” Lian Jun had seen too many people like Xu Jie who would stop at nothing to fulfill their selfish desires, so it was easy for him to understand what she was thinking.
He explained, “She doesn’t hold a lot of shares; even if she gives them away, it won’t shake Shi Weichong’s position in the company.
In addition, Ruixing’s current development goal is to shift its business focus to China, so being associated with Tarantula would be quite beneficial for Ruixing at the moment.
If you don’t consider the follow-up issues, Xu Jie’s move actually isn’t completely stupid.”

Shi Jin frowned at his words.
“Does she really think criminal organizations are that simple? The most troublesome thing about cooperating with the underworld is dealing with the follow-up.” Tarantula wasn’t a herbivore.
Wanting a predator to spit out the meat it had already swallowed? Dream on.

“Which is why her move can only be regarded as not ‘completely stupid.’ She was able to achieve success due to Shi Xingrui’s support and her son’s excellence, but it gave her an exaggerated impression of her own ability.
Criminal organizations aren’t going to be bogged down by feelings or easily manipulated like Shi Xingrui and Xu Chuan.
She won’t be able to handle them.” Lian Jun’s tone was cold, as if he had already seen Xu Jie’s end.

“It feels like she’s not completely rational anymore…” Shi Jin replayed the video, his frown not easing.
He wasn’t in a good mood.

He was an outsider and Ruixing had nothing to do with him.
But, when he recalled that Ruixing was something that belonged to the original ‘Shi Jin,’ that it was made by ‘his’ father, and that Shi Weichong was working so hard to protect it, yet Xu Jie was being dumber than a box of rocks and giving it away so easily… he still felt very angry.

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In the video, the person who was talking to Xu Jie took the document and flipped through it, then let out a breath in surprise.
At this, Xu Jie visibly relaxed, to the point of revealing a triumphant smile on her face.

Shi Jin’s face darkened.
He almost pulled out his phone to call Shi Weichong and have him take a good look at exactly how insane his mother was!

Lian Jun noticed his ugly expression.
“Don’t worry, Aunt Lu won’t want those shares.
After all of this is over, I’ll buy them back in your name.
Ruixing will stay in your family,” Lian Jun appeased him.

Shi Jin was even more upset.
“Why should you bleed money for… No, I’ll buy them! Didn’t Shi Weichong and the others transfer Dad’s deposits and real estate back to me? It should be enough to buy back the shares… Wait—so, ultimately, wouldn’t I end up paying for Xu Jie’s commission to harm me?”

Lian Jun was a little amused by his offended appearance.
Pinching his cheek, he said, “Tarantula is risking their business credibility by helping us put on this play, and they deserve some additional reward.
So, it’s not that we’re paying for Xu Jie’s commission, we’re paying Tarantula to play with Xu Jie, and you’ll also get Ruixing’s shares as a bonus.
In fact, aren’t you making a profit?”

When it was explained like that, Shi Jin instantly felt refreshed.
Just as his sour expression was about to melt away, however, he paused—wouldn’t they still need to spend money? He grabbed Lian Jun’s hand and squeezed it hard, saying fiercely, “Don’t try to dress it up—our family is obviously losing out here!” Originally, Lian Jun was only supposed to pay Tarantula a “service fee”, but now they would need to cough up another sum of money to buy the shares!

Lian Jun took advantage of the situation to hold his hand and asked, “You’re saying I’m making our family lose money?”

Shi Jin jolted in shock and rushed to explain, “No, it’s not you, it’s me who’s making our family lose money, I…” He trailed off; as he spoke, he came to the realization that he was indeed the reason for the loss, and the words died in his throat.

If not for the whole issue with Xu Jie, Lian Jun wouldn’t have to pay Tarantula anything! And, looking at things in terms of money, it was Lian Jun who’d been paying for everything since the beginning.
They’d been living together, but the place they lived belonged to Lian Jun, it was Lian Jun who was feeding and clothing him, and he had never even given Lian Jun ever a dime of his own money to cover the household expenses… Aren’t I the definition of a bottom feeder?

Unable to sit still at that revelation, he paused the video again and rushed back to their room without a word.
He dug up a certain courier package he hadn’t opened since receiving it and took it back to the study.
Then, he forcefully opened the box and poured out the passbooks and real estate certificates and other similar documents into Lian Jun’s lap, who watched on with an indescribable expression.

“Here, for the family budget,” Shi Jin said with all seriousness.
A little unsatisfied, he added, “Even though I didn’t personally earn any of this, but… Anyway, take it for now.
I’ll give you more when I start work later on.”

Lian Jun looked at his expression, looked at all the stuff pushed into his arms and lying on his lap, recalled their conversation, and finally figured out what had Shi Jin all tangled up.
His heart warm, he put the documents on the coffee table beside him, then stood up and enfolded his lover in a hug.
“Okay, then I’ll wait for you to become the breadwinner,” he replied, smiling.

But I don’t think I’ll ever be able to snatch the breadwinner position from you… Shi Jin thought as he hugged Lian Jun back, well aware of his own earning power.
Mournful, he poked Xiao Si in his mind: “You’re right—I really am just a pretty face supported by Lian Jun.”

Xiao Si awkwardly comforted, < It’s okay, I’ll help you make money, JinJin.
If we work hard together, I’m sure we’ll be able to earn enough to support Darling! >

“Xiao Si, you are such a good system,” Shi Jin said, deeply moved.

Xiao Si smiled bashfully.
< As your daddy, it’s only right that I provide for you.

Shi Jin: “…Thank you, but all of a sudden, being Lian Jun’s little trophy husband doesn’t seem half bad.”

Xiao Si: < …… >

After that, Shi Jin was in a much better mood and was able to watch Xu Jie sell Ruixing without a single fluctuation in his heart.

As soon as the shares were offered, the head of Tarantula’s B city branch immediately accepted Xu Jie’s commission and the two began to discuss the particulars.

Xu Jie must have already thought about how to deal with Shi Jin, so she gave her requirements as soon as the other man finished speaking: 【I want him kidnapped, tortured, and killed.
If possible, I hope that you can let me torture him myself.】

Torture me personally?

Shi Jin’s hand reaching for the water glass paused; missing the glass, he accidentally knocked it to the floor.

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Lian Jun bent over to help him pick up the glass, wiped up the spilled water, and poured him another drink.
As he glanced at the tablet in Shi Jin’s hand, his eyes were cold.

The branch head was obviously surprised.
【You want to do it yourself?】 he confirmed.

【Yes, I must do it with my own hands,】 Xu Jie replied, firm.

The other side didn’t want to agree.
【Letting the client to participate will increase the risk.
And isn’t it better to leave torture to professionals? Whatever you do probably won’t be as effective.】

Xu Jie’s tone turned meaningful.
【You think so? Then I’ll just need to practice until it is.
After a while, won’t I become professional enough?】

Perhaps the malice filling her voice was too strong, but the branch head didn’t speak for a moment.
Shi Jin and Lian Jun, watching the video, were also silent.
They exchanged glances, both of them reading the same thought in each other’s eyes—at this point, Xu Jie had already gone completely crazy.

In the end, the man said he would consider allowing Xu Jie to participate, and that he would give her Tarantula’s reply in three days, and Xu Jie agreed; the video ended there.
Shi Jin stared at the dark screen of the tablet with an unseeing gaze, lost in thought.

Lian Jun didn’t disturb him.
He held the teenager’s hand, feeling the pulse throbbing in the wrist under his fingers, offering quiet companionship.

Suddenly, the ringing of a mobile phone broke the silence.
Shi Jin snapped out of his thoughts and reached for his pocket.
Seeing that the incoming call was from Xiang Aoting, he picked up straight away: “Fourth Brother.”

{I’ve finished reading through the information,} Xiang Aoting began, his voice a little raspy.
{Xiao Jin, do you really plan to go up against Big Brother?}

“Fourth Brother.” Shi Jin stifled a sigh.
“The decision isn’t in my hands.
Whether we end up confronting each other isn’t up to me, but up to him.”

The other man immediately understood what he meant.
{Big Brother asked you for the information?}


Xiang Aoting fell silent.
After a while, he asked, {Xiao Jin, when are you going to… deal with Xu Jie?}

“I don’t know.
I’ll only act after she tries to hurt me again,” Shi Jin answered.
Knowing that Xiang Aoting and Shi Weichong had a good relationship, he added, “No matter what Big Brother’s choice is, I hope you’ll stay out of it—this is between him and me, it has nothing to do with you.
I don’t want to involve you.”

{I’d rather be involved,} Xiang Aoting said, his voice suddenly hoarse.
{We’re brothers… Little Sixth, all of us are brothers, family…}

“It’s because we’re family that I still call you ‘brother,’” Shi Jin replied.
Eventually, unable to bear witnessing his misery, he sighed and said, “Fourth Brother, I don’t want to die, I want to live.”

Shaken, Xiang Aoting opened his mouth to speak, but Shi Jin had already hung up.

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For the next two days, Shi Jin’s phone remained quiet.
Shi Weichong never called again.

Shi Jin watched as the three-day deadline passed.
When the hour on his phone changed from 23:59 to 00:00, he collapsed into the bed.
He didn’t sleep that night.

Everyone who saw him the next day could tell that Shi Jin was in a bad mood, but they didn’t know how to comfort him.
While they were discussing whether to take him out to relax, Shi Jin, who slowly adjusted his mood over the course of the morning training, found Lian Jun and said, forcing out an ugly smile, “Lian Jun, I’m sorry.
Shi Weichong chose his mother’s side—I ended up giving you a super-powerful enemy…”

“It’s okay.” Lian Jun had been in the middle of discussing where to take Shi Jin with Gua Two.
Now that Shi Jin was finally willing to speak, he hung up, stood up, and hugged the younger man, soothingly stroking his back.
“It’s fine, you still have me, it’s okay,” he comforted.

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Shi Jin returned the hug with force, burying his face in his shoulder.
“Xiao Si, am I weird?” he asked in his mind.
“Even though Shi Weichong isn’t my real brother, I feel a little sad… Do you think I’m affected by the original ‘Shi Jin’s’ memories?”

Xiao Si felt distressed for him, and tried to offer some consolation.
< Yes, probably.
Recently, you’ve been recalling the plot and looking through the original ‘Shi Jin’s’ memory every day.
It must have influenced your subconscious.

“…Sure enough.
I thought it was odd that I was being such a weakling.” Shi Jin wanted to make fun of himself but the corners of his mouth refused to rise, so he didn’t speak and just held Lian Jun in silence.

Suddenly, someone knocked at the door of Lian Jun’s training room.

Hurriedly putting his emotions in order, Shi Jin released Lian Jun and helped him sit back down in the wheelchair, then rubbed his face.

Lian Jun waited for him to sort himself out before calling for the person knocking to come in.

Gua Two pushed the door open.
Glancing at Shi Jin with some worry, he said, “Shi Weichong came.
He’s in front of the door, asking to see Shi Jin.

Hearing Shi Weichong’s name, Shi Jin immediately turned his head to look over, a glimmer of hope kindling in his heart.

“There’s a woman with him.
It’s Xu Jie—they came together,” Gua Two said.
“Do you want to let them in?”

Shi Jin froze.
Eyebrows wrinkling, he replied, “Take them to the reception room on the first floor.
Jun-shao and I will come in a moment.”

Gua Two nodded, closed the door, and left.

Neither Shi Jin nor Lian Jun had expected that Shi Weichong would bring Xu Jie with him.
They returned to their room to shower and change out of their workout clothes.
While doing that, they discussed what was happening.

“Why do you think they’re here? A declaration of war? Or reconciliation?” Shi Jin wondered as he put on clothes.

“Shi Weichong is not so stupid as to bring her into our territory just to declare war.
I’m leaning towards the latter.” Lian Jun fastened the belt of his robe and sat in the wheelchair, motioning to Shi Jin.

Shi Jin leaned down to help Lian Jun arrange the robe over his chest, while Lian Jun reached up to neaten Shi Jin’s messy hair and his slightly crooked collar.

“Xu Jie? Coming to make peace with me? Why do I find it hard to believe?” They exchanged a tacit kiss after they finished straightening up each other’s clothes, then Shi Jin pushed Lian Jun’s wheelchair out of the room, a frown returning to his face.

Lian Jun’s fingers lightly drummed on the wheelchair armrest.
“It’s no use guessing—we’ll find out when we see them,” he said.

By the time they arrived in the reception room, the tea in front of Shi Weichong and Xu Jie had already been changed once.

Shi Jin gauged their expressions before pushing the door completely open, attracting their attention, and calling out, “Big Brother.”

Xu Jie’s originally slightly impatient expression immediately changed and she straightened, looking as if she wanted to stand up.
Shi Weichong discreetly pressed her knee, giving her a warning glance, then got up and turned to Shi Jin.
“Xiao Jin, I’m sorry for coming without prior notice.
I hope we aren’t disturbing you.”

“It’s okay, please sit down.” Seeing Shi Weichong’s mild attitude, Shi Jin’s heart settled a little.
He arranged Lian Jun’s wheelchair at the side of the single sofa, then sat and asked, his eyes sweeping over Xu Jie, “What does this mean, Big Brother?”

Shi Weichong saw the direction of his gaze and his face fell for a second.
“I talked to my mother yesterday, about the past, and ended up not calling you in time.
I was going to contact you this morning, but then I thought the phone call would be too informal, so I decided to bring my mother and visit you in person.
We’re here to apologize.”


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Shi Jin didn’t even try to conceal the incredulity on his face.
He eyed Xu Jie, who couldn’t even look at him directly, and asked, “Apologize? Apologize for what?”

“For everything,” Shi Weichong replied, then nudged his mother’s knee.

Xu Jie stiffened as if startled.
After a moment, she slowly raised her head to look at Shi Jin, smiled a little rigidly, and said, “Shi Jin, I’m Shi Weichong’s mother; this is the first time we’ve met.
Yesterday, as Weichong and I talked, I discovered that you seem to have a certain misunderstanding about me… In short, Weichong is right—I shouldn’t hold you accountable for the resentment I bear towards the previous generation.
I sincerely apologize to you, and I hope that you can forgive me.”

< She’s lying! > Xiao Si shouted angrily.
< JinJin, your progress bar has risen! Only by 1 point, but it still proves her apology isn’t sincere! >

“I know, I’m not blind,” Shi Jin silently replied to the system.
Not even sparing Xu Jie a glance, he turned to Shi Weichong and asked, “What do you mean by this, Big Brother?”

“I’m trying to show you where I stand,” Shi Weichong replied, giving his mother another look.

Her hands tightly clenched on her lap, Xu Jie took a breath and continued, “Shi Jin, I promise I will not harm you again or interfere in your relationship with Weichong.
If you forgive me, I’ll immediately move abroad and never return to China again.”

This time, Shi Jin really was surprised.
“Big Brother, how did you convince her to agree to something like this?” This wasn’t as simple as her attitude doing a U-turn—it was like she’d been swapped with a completely different person!

“Compared to the mistakes we’ve made, this degree of concession is still far from enough.” Instead of answering Shi Jin’s question, Shi Weichong took out another document and pushed it forward.
“These are all the shares I hold in Ruixing—I’m returning them to their rightful owner now.
In order to ensure the peaceful transfer of equity, I can continue to help you manage Ruixing as an employee until you officially take over the company.
Of course, if you have a suitable person at hand, I can also immediately transfer the management rights as well.”

Xu Jie couldn’t stop her head from snapping up to look at Shi Weichong, her voice rising sharply: “Weichong, you promised me you wouldn’t—”

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“I promised not to give up Ruixing if you were sincere, but unfortunately, I can’t see your sincerity, Mom,” Shi Weichong interrupted her.
“I warned you not to try to fool or manipulate me again.
I grew up a long time ago—I’m no longer the child who relied on you and trusted you blindly.
You did something wrong, and now it’s time to take responsibility for it.
Don’t push me.” He turned to Shi Jin, his expression earnest, but some pleading visible in his eyes.
“Xiao Jin, this is my attitude.
You are my brother, she is my mother.
I don’t want to lose either of you, and I also don’t want to see you fighting each other and end up losing both.
I will bear all the mistakes, I will pay all the costs—Xiao Jin, from this day onward, I’ll do whatever you wish, and I promise I won’t let my mother get in your way again.
All I ask is that you give us a chance to meet each other halfway.”

At the sight of her son acting so humbly in front of Shi Jin, Xu Jie’s fists clenched even tighter.
“Weichong, this is different from what you promised me last night.
You can’t do this.”

“No, I can.
If you want to force me to death, just continue doing whatever you want, the same way you have been until now.” Shi Weichong didn’t even spare her a glance but kept his gaze on Shi Jin the whole time.
The expression in his eyes became even more earnest as he urged, “Xiao Jin… please give me your answer.”

Shi Jin looked back and forth at him and Xu Jie, feeling so uncomfortable it was as if a stone had suddenly lodged itself in his heart.
He never expected Shi Weichong to choose this way of doing things in the end, giving up everything just for a chance to compromise.

It was likely that Shi Weichong realized that Xu Jie had no chance of winning, so he decided to pay whatever the price he had to to win her the best possible outcome.
What a pity that…

He reached for the documents on the table, glimpsing Xu Jie’s clenched fists and lips tightening into a white line out of the corner of his eye.
“I promise you that I’ll leave your mother alone as long as she doesn’t make any more attempts to hurt me and doesn’t find trouble with me in other ways.”

With a look of relief on his face, Shi Weichong sent Shi Jin a grateful smile, saying, “Thank you, and I’m sorry, Xiao Jin.
I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to make this up to you.”

“No, it’s fine.” Shi Jin lowered his head, watching his progress bar jumping to 970 after he picked up the documents.
His heart fell.

…What a pity that Shi Weichong’s efforts were doomed to be wasted.
Xu Jie had already gone crazy.
Shi Weichong’s actions had only made her more certain that he’d “betrayed” her—she wouldn’t understand the purpose behind them or his sacrifice at all.

But… He looked up at Shi Weichong again, smiling at him.
“Thank you for making this choice,” he said.
“You will always be my big brother.”

Shi Weichong looked even more moved, and there was an overwhelming sense of relief in his voice, as if he’d unloaded a heavy burden from his shoulders: “No, I’m the one who should be grateful for your magnanimity.”

Beside him, Xu Jie’s fists were clenched so hard that her fingernails pierced the skin of her palm, oozing a few drops of blood.


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