Translated by Vivian of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
In the blink of an eye, two months had already passed since Guan Jin had come back. It was already the end of the year, and there was only a little more than a month until Chinese New Year.
In terms of the traditional new year, Guan Jin only remembered the big red lanterns and dancing dragons and lions in Chinatown. Moreover, he had never been interested in holidays, including Christmas. When the old man was still alive, he would even send him presents, and after the old man left, Tony would bring back a Christmas tree every year and decorate it with various colorful ornaments. Guan Jin felt that besides the time and effort it took to clean it up, there was no point at all.
There were also barely any cases in the winter, and their group became backup to help out wherever help was needed. Wen JingHan assigned Guan Jin to organize the case files from before and do some research on crime classification.
Thus, Guan Jin still went to work and got off work, ate meals and walked his dog, and occasionally talked to Tony over the phone or got harassed by Min Yan; his life became extremely patterned and bland.
The weekend of the first snow.
After waking up in the morning and gazing outside from his balcony, Guan Jin saw that the trees and ground had accumulated a thin layer of snow. When A-Gua saw this rare sight, he barked in excitement. Thus, Guan Jin slowly brought his chow chow downstairs for a walk.
A-Gua’s small feet left behind pawprints in the snow, and he was happily sniffing everywhere. Guan Jin was also in an especially good mood, and for the first time ever, he waved to the man who lived on the first floor of his building and was taking a stroll with his bird, shocking the man so much that he nearly dropped the bird cage.
On the way, he ate breakfast at a convenience store before taking A-Gua back. There were other dogs playing outside, and Guan Jin spotted a brown chow chow. He suddenly asked, “A-Gua, look, isn’t that chick pretty? What do you think about marrying her so she becomes my daughter-in-law?”
A-Gua didn’t reply; in reality, he couldn’t understand what Guan Jin was saying. Guan Jin persevered in trying to get him to reply, but when he turned around, he saw that A-Gua had disappeared.
Guan Jin frowned; A-Gua was very obedient and never ran off, even if a stranger was coaxing him or if there was another dog. If someone wanted to steal him, the result would probably be very tragic for the person, and besides, Guan Jin was sure that no one could come so near without him noticing. He looked down at the small pawprints on the ground and followed them.
Someone was sitting on the bench near his apartment building, and A-Gua was nuzzling his head affectionately in the person’s hands.
Guan Jin was furious and stormed over, saying sternly, “A-Gua, who let you run off? Don’t you know what kind of behavior this is?! This is being ungrateful. Treason!”
A-Gua recoiled behind the person’s legs and looked in bafflement at his glowering owner, wondering what he had done wrong.
“Hey, is it that serious? Treason? A-Gua wouldn’t go with a stranger, and he still remembers me after so long.” Lu YunYang petted A-Gua and looked up, smiling brightly and gazing unwaveringly at Guan Jin.
“Hmph, that’s true, only a dog would remember you.”
“…” Lu YunYang’s smile froze briefly, but he quickly resumed his grin. “Then that is enough for me to be content, because this way, at least the dog’s owner can think about me.”
Guan Jin rolled his eyes and reached out to beckon A-Gua back before walking upstairs to his apartment. He hadn’t seen Lu YunYang since that time at the hospital, but he seemed to have gotten a little thinner, and his face a little paler. However, he still had the strength to banter, so he was probably almost fully recovered.
As they walked up the stairs, Lu YunYang followed Guan Jin silently, and Guan Jin didn’t stop him. A-Gua looked back at him every few steps, his little tail wagging in excitement.
Guan Jin opened the door. Lu YunYang breathed a sigh of relief when he didn’t slam the door in his face. He quickly stepped inside before Guan Jin could change his mind.
Guan Jin grabbed two cups and filled one with hot water for himself. Lu YunYang waited for a moment, but when he saw that Guan Jin didn’t seem to intend on pouring out another cup for him, Lu YunYang awkwardly went to pour it himself.
Guan Jin stared off into space as the steam from his water rose. He suddenly asked, “Was the hospital fun? Is staying overnight in the hospital funner than a seven star hotel? Seeing as you’re so desperate to get in.”
Lu YunYang shook his head bitterly. “It wasn’t fun at all. The food was bad, my wound hurt, and my heart also hurt.”
“Wasn’t your heart unscathed? It was one of your lungs that stopped the bullet, no? What, does that lung still work?” said Guan Jin, a little smugly.
“…Kind of, but just barely.”
“Will there be aftereffects?” Guan Jin’s gaze was expectant.
Lu YunYang wasn’t sure whether he should laugh or cry, but he didn’t dare to quip with him. He said obediently, “My recovery went relatively well. The bullet grazed my ribcage, so it’s a little uncomfortable when the weather is humid, and it also hurts a little when I cough. The doctor said that I still have to be careful for a while.”
Guan Jin swept his gaze over his chest. “Did your brain degenerate from eating so much medicine? It’s winter, yet you can’t even pour hot water for yourself.”
Lu YunYang looked at the glass of water in his hand and realized that it was cold water. His face was filled with pleasant surprise, and he gazed affectionately at Guan Jin. “Little Jin, so you do care——”
Unfortunately, Guan Jin didn’t see anything, as he had walked into the kitchen and brought a bowl of fruit out. He sat down again and munched on an apple. “Your serious injury hasn’t completely healed yet, so you need to control your diet. I won’t see you off.”
“…No need to be so polite…”
“Say, did you come to be a dogsitter? If there’s nothing else, then I won’t see you off. I’m busy.” Guan Jin finished the bowl of fruit before dismissing Lu YunYang, who was playing with the dog.
Lu YunYang looked up and said sincerely, “I missed you, and the first thing I did after getting discharged from the hospital was to come see you. I still owe you a solemn apology and explanation. I’m sorry, Little Jin, I——”
“Ah, forget about the apology, it’s not worth anything. However, I would like to hear the explanation. I don’t want to be taken for a fool and kept in the dark a second time,” interrupted Guan Jin.
Lu YunYang firmly suppressed his affection and sincerity, so much so that it made his lungs hurt.
“Okay, I’ll tell you. Where should I start from?”
“From the moment you became my enemy.”
“…Okay. At the beginning of this year, the Gods received an assignment to look into some certain secrets of the Duke. However, someone carelessly exposed themselves, and the Duke was very unhappy. He directly told people to contact that famous assassination organization and bought my life at a sky-high price.”
Guan Jin inwardly rolled his eyes. Sure enough, the Organization’s boss was an idiot who only cared about money and not his life.
“The Gods trade news, and we rarely use violence to resolve our problems, so this is not one of our strengths. However, we couldn’t just be sitting ducks, so we ordered someone to kill the assassin that had come to kill me as a warning to the people behind him.” As he said this, Lu YunYang secretly glanced at Guan Jin’s expression.
Guan Jin was expressionless.
“I didn’t expect that Hei Xiao’s boss would be so persistent and assign a new assassin, Spider, to the job. Actually, besides special occasions, I rarely appear personally, since YunChi goes in my lieu. With the exception of a few confidants, the people in the Gods think that YunChi is Hermes. YunChi has always been high-profile and isn’t very patient, and he only does this because he thinks his life is too boring. Thus, he never makes any important decisions or gives orders to deal with troublesome issues, because he only conveys things on my behalf. YunChi purposely spread the rumor that Hermes had come to City S to lure Spider here. It’s just that Spider was also good at hiding his whereabouts, and Qin Xiao even went to find Spider’s partner first, but the news he had received was wrong, and he even ended up seeing you at the bar. Actually, Spider’s partner hadn’t come here at all, it was only a rumor he spread as a cover.
“Given that he was so cunning, we decided to mislead him. My people spread the rumor that Hermes was going to attend a cruise, and then that his schedule changed. We originally wanted to make things ‘easy’ for him, but unexpectedly, he disguised himself as Fang Mo and directly contacted Fang Sen and gathered information from him. The news that YunChi had given up on attending the cruise was fake, and we hadn’t told Fang Sen about it at all, so Spider didn’t know that Hermes was going to change his schedule. Thus, in the end, we still boarded the ship to confront the enemy.”
“Hmph, you overestimated yourselves.”
“Yes, we didn’t take this too seriously. However, two days before the cruise started, YunChi actually planned on not going because he wanted to stay here and assist. However, that guy is always indecisive, and he impulsively went anyway. Thus, it was true when I told you that I didn’t expect he would bring my family along,” emphasized Lu YunYang.
Guan Jin laughed mirthlessly.
“…On the ship, only then did I sense that the atmosphere was strange, and I was very alert, but I still wasn’t sure whether Spider was there or not. We were only sure that Spider had really followed us on the ship when… you told me what you were after.”
“Isn’t your information network top-notch?”
“We were careless this time. Most of my best people were away dealing with other difficult tasks, and I didn’t take Spider too seriously.” Lu YunYang smiled bitterly. “However, it was fortunate that we had four people on the ship, so we quickly figured out who Spider was. YunChi purposely left clues for him so he could take the bait.”
“It wasn’t so I could take the bait too?”
“…I just didn’t want you to accidentally injure someone else, but I also couldn’t directly tell you who I am. Later, when you found out, I recognized that Min Yan and Elena were the people you had described, and I convinced them to help me.” After he finished, Lu YunYang waited quietly for Guan Jin’s judgement.
“Then why did Canterbury attend the cruise?” Guan Jin had many questions. “And why did you attend? I don’t think you’d be so bored as to attend.”
“Harmony brings wealth. I didn’t actually want to become enemies with the Duke, because both sides would suffer losses. I personally asked him to board the ship, but of course, the reason he was willing to go was mainly because I used his relationship with Wen JingHan to draw him in.”
“You’re such an expert at playing with people’s hearts,” Guan Jin “complimented”.
“…” Lu YunYang tactfully didn’t respond.
“Qin Xiao and Mu QianHe…”
“QianHe is indeed my cousin, and she is Morpheus, our organization’s liaison. Qin Xiao is Hephaestus, and he’s responsible for collecting a portion of our information——he’s an expert regarding the latest academic and scientific research results. I forgot to tell you, he has an excellent memory like you, and although he doesn’t have photographic memory, it’s still quite remarkable.”
Guan Jin recalled how Qin Xiao had sneaked into the teacher’s office that time. “You guys even steal other people’s research results?”
“We never sell our information about academic research results. I’m a teacher, so how could I do such a despicable thing? It’s just that we need to have the most information to have complete control.”
Guan Jin curled his lip. “You’re a teacher? You control such a big underworld organization, do you even have time to conduct research?”
“I’m indeed ashamed to admit that my academic skills are not the best. However, I like this line of work, and it’s not just a cover.”
“Doesn’t your family have a family business?”
“Yes. My great-great grandmother was the daughter of a famous European family that did business in the underworld, and she was the one who founded the Gods, passing it down from generation to generation. Originally, I didn’t plan on participating, but when I was young, I went with my mom to Europe to visit our relatives, and I met the current Hermes at the time. He’s one of my cousins, and we hit it off immediately. After I began to understand the Gods, I felt that it was very interesting, and he also deliberately trained me to become his successor, which is why things are as they are now. This is why my brothers and I have mixed blood, but it’s just that it’s very obvious on YunChi, though it can’t really be seen on me and my older brother.” Lu YunYang did his best to reveal everything.
Guan Jin raised an eyebrow and looked at him. “You’ve already said everything. Aren’t you afraid I’ll go and tell everyone?”
“No. Besides, I know what kind of person you are, and you wouldn’t do that. Little Jin, I am no longer hiding anything from you, and I never will.”
“No need, I’m not interested.”
“Then… may I know what your verdict is?”
“It’s not the death penalty, is it?”
Guan Jin didn’t say anything.
Lu YunYang sighed in relief.
“As long as it’s not the death penalty, I still have to serve my sentence earnestly, change my ways, and strive for an opportunity to get early release, right?” Lu YunYang’s eyes lit up.
“Well, I’ll apply the common law system here. For your multiple crimes, I sentence you to a few hundred years. You can slowly try to earn commutation, and see if you may be released the day before you die.” Guan Jin stood up gloatingly. “I should go make lunch now, but unfortunately, there’s only enough for one person. You can go now, I won’t see you off.”
Lu YunYang quickly stood up and ran into the kitchen, putting on an apron.
“What are you doing?”
“Starting today, I’m going to work hard to strive for leniency.”