So. Li Yundong was expelled. Now that it had finally happened, it didn't seem so bad. In fact, he found it to be a rather freeing experience. Now he no longer had to deal with Director Qian's toxic schemes, early and boring lectures, or Liu Chuan's obnoxious taunts. Surely, that counted for something. But, of course, he had to find a way to make money now. He wondered what he could do. Maybe become a bodyguard? It wouldn't be a terrible idea. With Eryue, Mingmu, Xianjue, and all his Qi-control training, he was confident he could become a decent bodyguard. Then again, would anyone even hire him? What should he even put on his resume? Catching two girls who had fallen off a seven-floor building? Dodging bullets? If Zhou Qin was willing to vouch for him and act as a reference, then maybe someone would hire him...
Li Yundong led Su Chan down the corridor towards the stairs. They had left the media room immediately after Director Qian declared his expulsion. There was no point in staying or arguing with that old bastard anyway. They descended the stairs and then headed for the building's exit. He walked in silence while Su Chan trudged along behind him. When they stepped into the crisp, night air, he suddenly stopped and turned around to face Su Chan. Su Chan clearly hadn't expected him to stop so abruptly, so she ended up bumping into him. His hands rose instinctively to steady her. Their gazes locked on to each other the moment his hands touched her shoulders. Su Chan's eyes were swimming with unshed tears and filled with remorse.
"Come this way," he said, tilting his head. "We need to talk."
After several steps, Li Yundong made a sharp right. Moments later, they were both seated on a bench outside the building. Light from a nearby street lamp bathed them in an orange glow.
"God... Do you know what you've done?" Li Yundong said, then sighed heavily. "If we didn't come here tonight, it would be Feng Na getting expelled, not me. Do you understand that?"
"I'm sorry... I really didn't know what was inside that round thing."
"No," Li Yundong said in a harsh tone. "That isn't the point and you know it!"
Su Chan looked down at her lap. "I'm sorry... I shouldn't have swapped it without asking you first."
"And you should've told me right away when you broke Feng Na's DVD."
"I'm sorry... I thought you would leave me if... if..."
"And you thought swapping the DVDs was a good idea? Seriously? Are you an idiot? People would realize it the moment they played the DVD!"
"B- But they looked the same! I thought... I thought they are copies!"
"Copies..." Li Yundong groaned and buried his face in his palms. He had really underestimated Su Chan's cluelessness about the world. And now his negligence had come back to bite him in the ass.
"I'm so sorry, Yundong. I truly am. I was wrong..."
Li Yundong raised his head. "Yes, you were."
Su Chan lifted three fingers. "I swear I'd never have swapped it if I knew they weren't identical." Su Chan lowered her fingers. "And... I know I should've told you."
Li Yundong sighed and patted her head. "No more next time, okay?"
They sat in silence for a while.
"Is... Is Elder Sister Feng Na going to get into trouble?"
Li Yundong looked to the side. Su Chan looked genuinely worried. "She's going to be fine. Director Qian's real target is me, not her."
That f*cking son of bitch had been out to get Li Yudong ever since Su Chan kicked him in the nuts.
"But... You were kicked out of school..."
Li Yundong chuckled wryly. "Yes... Yes I was."
"T- Then... are we going to end up as... as beggars?"
Li Yundong pinched her nose. "No, silly. I won't let that happen." He let his hand drop. "I'll get a job. And then we can figure it out from there."
"Oh, I know! I'll get a job too!" Su Chan piped in, looking cheerful for the first time since the shitshow began earlier.
Li Yundong regarded her with amusement. "You? Nah. You're more likely to create more jobs for others than get paid," he said dryly.
Su Chan's nose scrunched up in confusion. "Are you saying I'm inept?"
Are you saying you're not? he added silently. Well, Su Chan would make a great masseur, he supposed. Then again, the idea of Su Chan putting her hands on other men... Nope. Not a chance in hell.
The sound of an unfamiliar ringtone interrupted their exchange. Li Yundong glanced around a few times, but it was just the two of them on the bench. Nobody else was around. "Whose phone is that?" he muttered.
"Oh! It's mine!" Su Chan began rummaging through his backpack. Seconds later, she pulled out the phone that Zhou Qin gave her the other day.
Li Yundong chuckled. There was only one person who knew this number. So she heard about it already, huh? News sure travels fast.
"Hello?! Hello?!" Su Chan yelled at the phone. When the phone kept ringing, Su Chan stared at the phone with a puzzled expression. She shook the phone a few times. "Helloooooooooo?!"
Li Yundong shook his head in amusement. "Yundong…" Su Chan gave him a helpless look. "This rude phone is ignoring me…"
Li Yundong burst into laughter. "Give me that." He held out his hand. When Su Chan passed him the phone, he turned the device around—she'd been holding it upside down the whole time—and showed her a button. "You gotta press this button to answer calls, you got that?"
Su Chan nodded. "Mmm!"
Li Yundong pressed the answer key and passed the phone over to Su Chan.
"Hello?" Su Chan said gently, then shot Li Yundong a tentative glance.
Li Yundong pointed at her ear. "You have to put it close to your ear," he whispered.
"Oh," she said, then did as she was told.
"Hello?" Su Chan spoke into the phone again. She listened to the voice on the phone for a few seconds, then passed the phone back to Li Yundong.
"It's Elder Sister Zhou Qin," Su Chan said. "She wants to speak with you."
Li Yundong took the phone. "So, Miss Zhou. I take it you've heard about the media room incident already?"
"Yes. Senior Feng Na called and told me about it." There was a pause. "Seriously, Li Yundong... How on earth did you get into so much trouble in literally just... days?"
Li Yundong released a long sigh. "How much did Feng Na tell you?"
"Nothing specific, that's why I'm calling you," Zhou Qin said. "She just told me that something happened during the movie screening, and you got expelled." Zhou Qin sighed. "I guess I should've been there."
Li Yundong grunted. "I'd rather you weren't. It wasn't exactly a pleasant business."
"Tell me what happened?"
Li Yundong spent the next few minutes recounting the whole mishap from the beginning.
"My God, Li Yundong... What is it with you and these strange coincidences?" Zhou Qin said when Li Yundong was done talking. "It's like the forces of the Universe are conspiring to get you expelled."
Li Yundong chuckled wryly. "Tell me about it..."
"Hey... Come to think of it... I think I saw that DVD when I went through one of your books the other day. The label seemed pretty innocuous... I never thought it would be... you know..."
Heat rose to Li Yundong's cheeks. "Can we not talk about my bad cinematic tastes, please?" Li Yundong cleared his throat awkwardly. "It wasn't one of my finest moments, okay? I'm not proud of it."
Zhou Qin chuckled. "I guess that explains the innocuous label..."
"Zhou Qin..." Li Yundong said in a warning tone. This was probably the most uncomfortable phone conversation he ever had. "I'd rather not talk about this anymore, if you don't mind."
Zhou Qin laughed. "Relax... It's no big deal, okay? I'm not judging you."
"Yeah. You're not judging. Just laughing at my expense..." Li Yundong muttered.
Zhou Qin chuckled a few more times before clearing her throat. "Just let me handle this. I'll see what I can do to waive your expulsion."
Li Yundong groaned. "Again? I always end up troubling you."
Zhou Qin's tone suddenly turned serious. "It's no trouble, okay?"
"You keep saying that, but you've done more than enough for me already. Is this about me saving your life again? You know you don't owe me anything, right?"
Zhou Qin sighed over the phone. "I know my father's secretary spoke with you. And I know he has insulted you. I guess I want to make it up to you somehow."
"It isn't your fault."
"I know... But still. Just let me make it up to you. Please."
Li Yundong sighed. "Alright. Thank you."
Zhou Qin cleared her throat again. "So. What's your next step? I'm not sure how long it'll take to sort things out with the university. So you might be away from school for a while. "
Li Yundong chuckled wryly. "My plans? Isn't that obvious? Job hunting, of course." He paused. "At first, I planned to wait until the summer holidays to get a job, but now I've got no choice." Li Yundong glanced at Su Chan. "I've got a chipmunk to feed."
Su Chan blushed adorably and made a face at him.
"Chipmunk? What are you..." There was a brief moment of silence. "Oh!" Zhou Qin's laughter rang out, which lasted for a few seconds.
"I swear. Sometimes I think she eats more than twenty men combined," Li Yundong grumbled, then leaned his body away to dodge Su Chan's swipes.
Zhou Qin's laughter subsided. "She has a healthy appetite, that's for sure..." Zhou Qin cleared her throat. "Anyway. If you're looking for a job, then I might be able to help you on that front..."
Li Yundong fell silent. If Zhou Qin had a way to get him a job quickly, then all his problems would be solved. But how was he ever going to return the favor? Deep down, he knew what he feared the most—that this feeling of indebtedness to Zhou Qin would hang over his head forever. Worse, Zhou Qin might start demanding something for him that he could never give—his affection.
Li Yundong must have stayed quiet for a long time, because Zhou Qin spoke again.
"Hello? Are you still there?"
Li Yundong sighed. "Yeah... Yeah, I'm still here."
"Listen... It isn't compulsory, okay? It's just a job interview anyway. If you don't want to go, then that's fine as well."
Li Yundong fell silent again. This was literally the solution to all his problems right there. He would be a fool to turn away such an opportunity. There were things more important than his pride to consider, things like paying rent and feeding Queen of Gluttony over there. "Which firm?" Li Yundong asked. Assuming that it was even a firm. Right. Who was he even kidding? This was one of Zhou Qin's connections. Of course it would be some high-end firm.
"A real estate firm?" Li Yundong chuckled. "I'm sorry, but I don't think my skillset matches the job description..." Real estate agents didn't have to throw punches and kicks, or dodge bullets.
"Well, it's up to the firm's President what position to give you. Who knows, maybe she'll want you as an assistant?" Hmm… Making coffee and carrying folders around didn't sound too bad. "Oh, by the way," Zhou Qin continued in a teasing tone, "the owner of that firm is a friend of mine. And she's a very beautiful woman. In fact, the entire firm is filled with beautiful women. So you might wanna keep your eyes in check. You don't want to break Su Chan's heart, do you now?"
Li Yundong felt Su Chan's tug on his arm the moment Zhou Qin finished that statement. "No, no, no..." Su Chan mumbled beside his ear, shaking her head frantically. "I'm going with you! I'm going with you!"
Li Yundong stared at Su Chan in shock. How did she hear... Then he remembered that Su Chan was a Cultivator. Must've used Eryue... Li Yundong felt a surge of warmth in his chest. The fact that Su Chan would feel jealous implied that he meant something to her. He reached over and flicked her forehead. "Fine, you can come along as long as you don't cause trouble."
Zhou Qin must have heard his exchange with Su Chan, because she suddenly started laughing. "Hey, Li Yundong," she said. "Put me on loudspeaker for a sec."
Li Yundong complied with a push of a button. "There, you're on loudspeaker."
Su Chan seemed fascinated by the fact that the phone could speak as loud as a human now. "Hey... The box's voice just grew louder." Li Yundong just shook his head at her and smiled.
"Su Chan..." Zhou Qin's voice rang out a second later. "You must find a way to secure Li Yundong's heart, okay? Or else other women might try to snatch him away from you." Li Yundong rolled his eyes. Yeah, right. As if that would even happen.
Su Chan nodded with zest. "I know right!" She raised her fist. "He is mine! And I will not let another dinglu have him!"
Li Yundong nearly choke on his own spit.
"Dinglu?" Zhou Qin sounded way too amused now.
Li Yundong silenced Su Chan with a glare.
Zhou Qin sounded like she was trying hard to contain her laughter. "Anyway, that's the spirit, Su Chan. Li Yundong is quite the catch, so you must—"
"Zhou Qin..." Li Yundong gritted out. "You're not helping. Keep that up and I won't even show up for the interview."
"Relax... I was only kidding." Zhou Qin paused for a moment. "All jokes aside, I really think you should go to the interview. The pay is good."
Li Yundong switched off the loudspeaker and put the phone back against his ear. "Seriously?"
Zhou Qin suddenly laughed. "Got you there, pal. I knew you'd cave the moment I mentioned the high salary."
Li Yundong blushed and rubbed the back of his neck. "Well... I won't lie. Money is a little tight these days."
Li Yundong cut Zhou Qin off. "I didn't take the money your father offered because it isn't the right thing to do, okay? It's bad enough that I've been relying on my parents' money all these years. I'm not about to add to that by taking your father's money for nothing. From now on, whatever money I receive has to be rightfully earned."
Silence passed between them. Zhou Qin cleared her throat. "Um... Actually, I wasn't about to mention what my father did..."
Li Yundong went still. "Oh." Then he blushed. "Sorry. What were you about to say then?"
Zhou Qin sighed. "I was going to say... I have a lot of money saved up over the years... so... I mean if you really need money urgently, then I can lend you some. Ah, you can pay me back in the future if you want!"
Another stretched of silence passed. "Thank you. It's kind of you to offer, but I'll have to decline," Li Yundong said.
"But what if it's an emergency—"
"How about this," Li Yundong cut her off, "I'll let you know if it ever comes to that. Sound fair?"
Zhou Qin let out a long sigh. "Okay. Fair enough."
"Look. I appreciate it, okay?" Li Yundong said. "Don't think I don't know how much you've done for me. But this is my problem, and I need to deal with it, with or without help. Can you understand that?"
"Yeah. Yeah, I think I do."
"Thank you," Li Yundong said. "Alright, then. It's getting late, so I'm gonna go."
"Oh, okay. Good night, then. I'll text you the details of the interview later."
Li Yundong nodded even though he knew Zhou Qin couldn't see him. "Alright. Thanks again. Bye."
The line went off with a click. Li Yundong lowered the phone from his ear and turned to Su Chan. "Well, that was some conversation," he said as he put the phone back into his backpack.
Su Chan was looking at him expectantly. "So... You've found a job?"
Li Yundong zipped up his backpack and stood up from the bench. "Not yet. It's just an interview. I might not even get it."
"Oh." Su Chan reached for his backpack, so he let her have it. She really liked carrying his backpack around these days. He wondered why.
"What's the matter? You sound disappointed." He patted Su Chan's head after she had slung the straps over her shoulders. "There's still a chance I might get the job. So don't look so sad."
Su Chan shook her head and stared down at her feet.
Li Yundong hooked a finger under her jaw and lifted her chin. "What's up?"
She used the tip of her shoe to play with a tiny pebble on the ground, causing it to roll back and forth. "It's just... A- Are you still mad at me?"
Li Yundong smiled. "It depends."
Hope shone on Su Chan's face. "On what?"
"On whether you'd hide things from me again."
"I- I- I'll try not to..."
Li Yundong stared at her. Seconds later, he caved. "C'mere." He held his arms wide open.
Su Chan's face lit up like a star. "Yayyy!" She crashed into Li Yundong's body and snuggled against his chest. "I know I'm a troublemaker," she said, her voice muffled by his chest. "But I'll try really, really, really hard not to cause trouble again. So... P- Please don't... don't leave me for other dinglus.
Li Yundong pulled away from their embrace and looked at Su Chan. "That won't happen, okay?" He smiled. "I'm a one-woman man!"
Su Chan giggled and climbed onto his back.
"Hey! What are you doing?"
"I'm holding on to you because you're mine! I won't let any other dinglu have you!"
Li Yundong laughed, then smacked Su Chan's butt playfully. "Then are you going to be obedient from now on?"
"And you won't hide things from me?"
There was a brief pause, like Su Chan was hesitating. "Mmm!" she answered before he could turn his head around to look at her face.
"Alright then! Let's go!"
"Hmm? Go where?"
Li Yundong smacked her butt again. "Where else, silly! Home, of course!"