"Believe what you want, okay. I've already told you the truth." Li Yundong gave Feng Na a hard stare. "Not that I have anything to explain to you. Whether or not Su Chan and I have done the deed is none of your business."
Feng Na looked away awkwardly.
"Hey, relax Li Yundong, she was just joking," Cheng Cheng said. "Hey, by the way, you don't have classes this afternoon if I'm not mistaken."
Li Yundong eyed Cheng Cheng suspiciously. "You seem to know our schedule pretty well."
Cheng Cheng chuckled. "It's impossible not to know."
"Huh?" Li Yundong frowned. "What does that mean?"
"It's all up on the forum," Cheng Cheng said.
"What the heck?"
Cheng Cheng rolled her eyes. "You're pretty much a celebrity around here. People are posting all kinds of things about you. Your schedules, your classes, where you have lunch, everything."
Li Yundong shook his head in disgust. "Great," he grumbled. "There are paparazzi on campus now."
"Anyway!" Cheng Cheng continued in a cheery tone. "You should join us at the media room tonight. We're screening a movie."
Li Yundong arched his brow. "Since when did that become a thing?"
"Oh, it's recent!" Cheng Cheng said proudly, then patted Feng Na on the shoulder. Feng Na's face had taken a deep shade of red.
"All thanks to Nana, of course!" Cheng Cheng continued. "It was her idea."
Li Yundong glanced at Feng Na. "Really now?"
"Yep," Cheng Cheng said. "To spice up campus life, she suggested the screenings of movies and TV shows every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday!"
Li Yundong nodded. "Wow. Interesting idea. I'm impressed."
Feng Na was still blushing, much to Li Yundong's amusement. "So?" Feng Na asked. "Are you joining us or not?"
Li Yundong thought for a moment. He wondered if he would be able to pass the Zhuji phase tonight. Su Chan had told him repeatedly that the Zhuji phase was pivotal in any Cultivator's training. Okay, maybe he wouldn't be able to complete it in one night, but it'd be better if he started as early as possible. Li Yundong shook his head. "Don't get me wrong. I think it's a great activity you've got going there. But I can't join you guys tonight."
Feng Na's face fell. "What? This is my first time! You're not even going to be there to show some support?"
Her first ti—
Students swiveled their heads around to give them funny looks. Li Yundong did a face palm. "Would you please stop saying shit like that? It's going to give people wrong ideas, dammit!"
Feng Na frowned. "What? What did I…" She blushed.
Li Yundong shot her a glare. "Yeah, that's what."
Feng Na sneered. "There's nothing wrong with what I said. You dirty-minded people are the ones who jumped to conclusions!"
As if it was even possible for people not to jump to conclusions when she said things like that.
Cheng Cheng leaned herself against Feng Na. "Come on, Li Yundong. Are you going to show up or not?"
Suddenly, a hint of suspicion formed in Li Yundong's mind. His eyes narrowed into slits. "Tell me. Why is it so important that I show up?" Feng Na was starting to squirm under his gaze, but Cheng Cheng was still smiling at him without a care.
"To show your support, of course!" Cheng Cheng said. "You're our friend, right?"
Li Yundong smirked. Seriously? Can you girls be any more obvious? Li Yundong raised his hand. "Enough. I know what you two are planning, okay?"
Cheng Cheng gave him an innocent look whereas Feng Na was now looking at anywhere but him. Gotcha…
"Plan? What on earth are you talking about?" Cheng Cheng asked.
Li Yundong's smirked widened. "This is a publicity ploy! You just want to use my"—Li Yundong did air quotes—"celebrity status to increase student turnout."
Cheng Cheng looked sheepish now. "Oops?"
Li Yundong studied the two women until Cheng Cheng caved in.
"Oh, come on..." Cheng Cheng smiled. "Just show up? Please? At least for one night..."
Li Yundong's eyes grew wide in an instant. More strange looks were cast towards them. God damn it. These two really had no filter at all. None. Li Yundong sighed. "Will you stop bugging me if I agree?"
Cheng Cheng nodded excitedly.
"Fine. What movie?"
"Nope. Not telling you." Cheng Cheng winked. "You'll just have to be there to find out!"
Around 6 PM, their cab pulled up in front of the campus. Li Yundong paid the cabbie and got out of the car with Su Chan.
"Yundong... Why are we here at school again? Do you have classes at night?" Miss Clueless, it seemed, could no longer contain her curiosity. Yundong took her hand and led her past the campus gates.
"We're not here for classes, princess."
"Then... Are we here to fight? Or to watch shamanistic rituals again?"
Li Yundong pulled them to a stop and stared at her. Shamanistic rituals? Fight? What on earth was she talking about?
Su Chan seemed to have realized as well that she had said something silly. She blushed and stared down at her feet. "I- I mean... I- Isn't that what we did last time when we came to school at night?"
The penny dropped. Li Yundong guffawed. Oh, she was talking about the performance night! And by shamanistic rituals, she probably meant the dance performance. Li Yundong stopped laughing and stared at her warmly. Cute. So damn cute.
Li Yundong patted her head. "No, silly. We're not here to fight. We're here to watch a movie!"
Su Chan's smile could probably light up a football field. She jumped slightly. "They have TV boxes here?"
Li Yundong chuckled. "Probably. But I don't think they'll be using TVs in the media room."
Su Chan stared up at him blankly. "Then what will they be using? Will there be a stage? Or people with costumes?"
Li Yundong laughed again. "No silly, that's a Chinese opera! Geez!"
"They'll probably use a projector and a huge screen."
Su Chan was staring at him like he had just told her that fish live on land. A confused Su Chan was a cute Su Chan. Okay. Scratch that. Any Su Chan was a cute Su Chan. Yes, even when she was kicking people in the nuts and blowing up kitchens. God give him strength against her lethal cuteness.
"Well, there won't be a stage," Li Yundong said as they began to walk again. "There will probably be a huge piece of flat, white cloth hung in front. And the images would appear on the white surface."
"Oh. So it's a flat TV..."
Well, when she put it that way... He shrugged and said, "Yeah. I guess you can think of it that way."
"Do these flat TVs have the rectangular blocks too?"
Li Yundong's steps faltered. "Rectangular blocks?"
"The one with buttons."
"Oh! A remote!" Li Yundong thought for a moment. "Maybe they do? I don't know."
They passed the academic building and made a right turn.
"These flat TVs won't explode like that stupid stove, right?"
The media room was crammed when they walked in. Indeed, a massive projector screen was set up in front of the room. At the center of the room, a metal mount hung down from the ceiling with a sophisticated projector sitting on it. Li Yundong scanned the room for Feng Na. It took him a few seconds, but he located her at a corner of the room, where some kind of workstation was set up. Cheng Cheng and a few other seniors stood around her. They all seemed busy, probably with setting up the projector.
Li Yundong nudged Su Chan and gestured towards Feng Na. Su Chan tore her eyes away from the projector. The device had held her fascination from the moment they walked in. She nodded, and together, they made their way towards Feng Na. Although she would still sneak glances at the projector once every few steps she took. Li Yundong found himself wondering at some point which one was brighter: the light emitted from the projector's lens; or the sparkle in Su Chan's eyes when she gazed at the projector.
Students filled the seats, munching on popcorns and melon seeds while chattering away at each other. Some demanded autographs from him. A few even requested him to take selfies with them. Li Yundong ignored all of them and made a beeline for Feng Na and Cheng Cheng.
Thanks to the students enthusiasm, Feng Na noticed their arrival before he could greet her; she waved at them as soon as she saw them walking over.
Li Yundong returned Feng Na's wave. "So. This better be worth my time. Since you practically coerced me here."
Feng Na chuckled. "Why don't you take a seat and find out?"
Li Yundong narrowed his eyes. "Come on. Spill. Tell us what movie you're playing."
Feng Na rolled her eyes. "So impatient," she grumbled. "Fine. We'll be playing a soap opera today."
Li Yundong groaned and did a face palm. But before he could say anything, Su Chan did a cheer. "Yay! Soap shows! Soap shows!" Li Yundong's body pitched sideways when Su Chan gave his arm a strong tug.
Li Yundong straightened himself. "Sorry to burst your bubble, princess," he said. "But we're going home. This is a waste of time."
He pulled Su Chan towards the exit, ignoring Feng Na's protests.
Su Chan resisted. "But I like soap shows!"
Li Yundong smiled at her. "You can watch it at home."
"Hey! Li Yundong!"
Li Yundong turned around to see Feng Na storming over. "You're already here! So why leave? You might as well stay and watch the film."
Several tugs on his hand made him turn, after which he was struck by the full force of Su Chan's puppy-dog eyes. "Yundong... Can we stay and watch the soap show? Please?"
Or maybe we can go home and you teach me how to pass the Zhuji phase?
Su Chan's puppy dog eyes shone under the lights. Li Yundong found his resolve wavering. A minute later, Li Yundong hung his head low and sighed. "Alright, alright, you win..."
Li Yundong scanned the room. "Are there even any seats left for us? The place is packed."
Feng Na stepped forward and grabbed his arm. "Don't worry. I've reserved two places for you. VIP seats." Feng Na led them to a row in the middle of the room.
"There," Feng Na told them once they had both taken their seats. "These are the best two spots in the room. Reserved just for you two."
Li Yundong leaned back in his seat. He didn't doubt that this was the best spot in the entire room. The seats were positioned at just the right distance from the screen so that they could look straight ahead without having to bend or crane their necks to see the screen. Bags of popcorns were already prepared beside their feet.
"Wow. Not bad." Li Yundong nodded appreciatively. "Not bad at all."
Feng Na smirked. "Told you, you wouldn't regret joining us."
"Well, thanks for—" Pieces of popcorn sprayed his face before he could finish. It was like being hit by a popcorn shower.
He turned and saw Su Chan staring blankly at the bag of popcorn she'd just ripped open. Half of the popcorn had spilled from the bag: strewn all over their seats, laps, and the floor.
Su Chan shot him a sheepish look. "Hehehe... Oopsie?"
Why? Why me? Why the hell me? Why the f*cking hell me? Li Yundong sighed. "Sorry about this," he told Feng Na, who was now giggling into her palm. "Look, you go do your thing. I'll clean this up." He gestured at the popcorn mess.
Feng Na stopped giggling and smiled. "Alright then. Sit tight. We'll dim the lights soon."
Li Yundong watched Feng Na walk away, then shook his head.
By the time he turned back to deal with the litter of popcorn, most of the popcorn on their seats were already gone. All thanks, of course, to Su Chan the chipmunk.
With a sigh, Li Yundong bent down to pick up the rest of the popcorn from the floor. One of these days, he was going to drill some table manners into that girl. He just hoped that he could live long enough to see some actual progress.
Fifteen minutes later, the students were getting restless. The lights had already been dimmed ten minutes ago, but the film wasn't playing yet. And Su Chan, of course, was already devouring her second bag of popcorn.
What's the hold up? Li Yundong glanced towards the little workstation Feng Na and her friends had set up at the corner of the media room. Through the darkness, Li Yundong could make out dark figures bustling around Feng Na, who was gesturing her hands wildly. It almost seemed like she was panicking. Li Yundong sighed. Maybe this was a waste of time after all. Nothing was being shown on the screen except for the projector's brand logo—the default welcome screen. The students were booing and hissing. Clearly, their patience was wearing thin as well.
Seriously, what the heck is the matter? Li Yundong moved his Qi towards his Shenting and sorted through the buzzing in his ears.
"... I've already tried many times! I'm telling you it isn't working!!" someone said. One of the seniors, no doubt.
"Dammit!" Feng Na hissed. "What are we gonna do? I didn't prepare a spare!"
"I got it!" Another voice sounded. This time, it was Cheng Cheng.
"What? What is it? You got an idea?" Feng Na said anxiously.
"C'mon, Nana! Isn't it obvious? Just play that secret DVD you got from your friend!"
There was a pause following Cheng Cheng's statement. Seconds later, Li Yundong heard a resigned sigh. "Fine," Feng Na said. "Looks like we have no other choice. Cheng Cheng, go grab it for me, will you? It's between the pages of a book on my desk. The third book from the left."
"Got it!" Cheng Cheng said, sounding way too happy for someone who was supposed to be dealing with a crisis.
Li Yundong tuned out the voices and returned his Qi back to his lower Dantian; the buzzing disappeared. Moments later, Feng Na made an announcement on the microphone. "Sorry guys, due to some technical issues, we won't be playing the original soap opera."
A chorus of boos and hisses filled the room.
"This is bullshit!"
"What a waste of time!"
"You mean we came here for nothing? Seriously?"
"Now, now, calm down people," Feng Na continued in a sweet tone. "I didn't say we won't be playing anything tonight. Like I said, there'll be a change of plans due to technical issues, so tonight we'll be watching Cohabitation with A Flight Attendant!"
A round of—mostly feminine—cheers sounded. A moment later, the door of the media room opened and Cheng Cheng ran back inside with a DVD.
Li Yundong glanced at Su Chan and raised his brows. "Still wanna stay?"
"Mmhmm!" Su Chan said.
Li Yundong's brows rose higher. "You sure? It's going to be boring, you know."
Su Chan's nose scrunched up adorably. "Why?"
"Because they are playing the soap opera you were watching that night."
"Oh." Su Chan stared blankly at the screen in front, then turned back to him. "I can watch it again!"
Li Yundong groan inwardly. "Alright, alright. As you wish, milady."
Li Yundong turned his attention to the screen. The opening credits were already showing. Hey... isn't that...
Li Yundong nearly fell off his seat. His blood ran cold. Oh shit... He shot a panicked look towards Feng Na and her friends. He wanted to run over and tell them to stop playing the DVD, but it was already too late.
Li Yundong stared at the screen in horror as the entire media room went into a ruckus: the guys were cheering; and the girls were shrieking and covering their eyes.