Li Yundong was a man on mission, a mission to give a certain Sichuan model student a piece of his goddamn mind. He spotted her at the corridor outside the exam hall, laughing and chatting with a couple of her friends. There you are…
Even from afar, he could see Sun Li's posture going rigid the moment she heard his voice. Then, before he could get another word out, she bolted without even looking at him.
"Hey! Hold it right there!" Li Yundong yelled, picking up his pace. You think you can run away from me? Think again!
Sun Li shouldered past the throng of students gathered at the corridor and kept running.
Eventually, Li Yundong caught up to her and grabbed her arm to stop her. "We need to talk," he growled, staring at Sun Li, who was heaving and panting due to the physical exertion. She looked like she could barely remain upright.
"Hey, you alright, class rep?" Li Yundong asked worriedly.
"I'm fine." Sun Li straightened herself and exhaled. "What did you want to talk about?"
Li Yundong rolled his eyes. "Don't play dumb. Why didn't you tell me it was an open book exam, dammit! Do you know how much time I've spent memorizing all those notes and textbook passages!"
Sun Li gave him an innocent expression, though she wasn't fooling anyone. "Really? I didn't tell you?" She shrugged. "Well, I guess it must have slipped my mind, then. Whoops."
"You—" Li Yundong pinched the bridge of his nose and took a deep breath. "Bullshit! This is a prank! You withheld the information from me on purpose!"
Sun Li burst into giggles. "Serves you right for neglecting everything that's been going on in class."
"Hey!" Li Yundong gave her an affronted look. "It wasn't by choice you know..."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah..." Sun Li smirked. "Besides, you didn't ask, so it's reasonable to think that you already knew."
"You—" Li Yundong sighed and let his shoulders sag. "Fine... You win."
Li Yundong instantly brightened up at the sound of that voice. He swiveled to his right just as Su Chan barreled into his chest, throwing her arms and legs around him.
Laughing, Li Yundong wrapped his arms around her and then spun her around a few times. "What are you doing here, princess?" Li Yundong pinched Su Chan's cheek. "I thought I told you to wait at the cafeteria."
"We told her we'd bring her to you."
Li Yundong turned around and saw Feng Na walking over with Cheng Cheng in tow.
Moments later, Feng Na stopped in front of Li Yundong and smirked. "So. What's with this game of tag between you and model student over there?" Feng Na tilted her head in Sun Li's direction.
"Ask her," Li Yundong grumbled, shooting Sun Li a glare.
Feng Na turned to Sun Li with a raised brow. Sun Li spent the next three minutes recounting the little prank she'd played on Li Yundong. When Sun Li was done talking, Feng Na giggled and high-fived Sun Li. "Welcome to the club, Sun Li! You're the second woman who has successfully pulled a prank on the Hero of Tiannan University!"
Li Yundong gaped at Feng Na. "You girls suck, you know that? You too, Feng Na. To think that I'd actually put my ass on the line to save you—"
Li Yundong stopped talking when he felt a few tugs on his arm. He turned his head and saw Su Chan looking at him quizzically. "Yundong... What's so funny? Why are they laughing?"
Li Yundong snorted. Why indeed. It wasn't even funny. "Nothing. Those girls aren't right in the head. They have issues." He drew circles beside his head. "It's best if we stay away from them."
Then, Li Yundong took Su Chan's hand and led her away from the other girls. However, he had barely taken a few steps before Feng Na's voice stopped him. "Hey, Li Yundong! Wait up!"
Li Yundong turned around. "What?"
Feng Na glanced around surreptitiously, then lowered her voice into a whisper. "Well... It's just... I wanna treat you to lunch."
Li Yundong looked at her strangely. "Why?" Suddenly, his eyes narrowed. "This isn't another prank, is it? What, you gonna put laxatives in my food or something?"
Feng Na giggled into her hand, then smacked him on the head. "No... I just... I just wanna thank you for what you did. I mean during the DVD incident..."
Li Yundong regarded Feng Na to gauge her sincerity. A moment later, he sighed. "You're welcome," Li Yundong said. "I just did what I thought is right, that's all. I was partially at fault anyway. And..." Li Yundong nudged Su Chan with his elbow.
Su Chan poked her head out from behind Li Yundong's arm. "Um... Elder Sister Feng Na... I... I'm sorry for breaking your DVD."
Feng Na smiled at Su Chan. "It's okay. It's water under the bridge. But... Please help me convince Li Yundong to accept the invitation?"
Su Chan didn't even hesitate when she heard the request. It was a clever move on Feng Na's part to appeal to Su Chan's insatiable appetite.
"Yundong, Yundong, Yundong... Please? Can we go... Please? Pretty please?" Li Yundong stared into Su Chan's puppy dog eyes and that delicious pout that he wanted to kiss off her face. Seconds later, he chuckled and met Feng Na's gaze. "Fine. Lead the way." He raised an eyebrow, then smirked. "Just so you know, I wasn't actually planning to turn down the offer. I just wanted to make you sweat a little before agreeing." Yeah. He'd be an idiot to turn away free lunch considering how broke he was.
Feng Na's face lit up. "Then it's settled! Let's go."
The group made it down the staircase with Feng Na leading the way and Li Yundong and Su Chan bringing up the rear. At the academic building's main entrance, they ran into Zhou Qin.
"Where are you guys headed to?" Zhou Qin asked.
Feng Na and Cheng Cheng shared glances with each other. For some strange reason, neither of them felt inclined to answer the question. Silence passed between them until Li Yundong stepped forward in an attempt to diffuse the awkwardness. "To eat," he said, then pointed at Feng Na. "Miss Generous over here is treating us to lunch today." Li Yundong gave Feng Na an evil smirk. "And I think I'm gonna try to squeeze every penny out of her."
Zhou Qin gave Feng Na a strange look. "What's the occasion?"
"No special occasion," Feng Na answered quickly. There was a strange edge to her tone. "Just one friend treating another friend to lunch. I don't think it requires an occasion for friends to have lunch together."
"Well, why don't you join us, Zhou Qin?" Li Yundong asked.
"Uggghh! Why are you guys still standing arooounnnd? I'm soooo hungry!" Su Chan whined, then smacked Li Yundong's chest a few times. "It's all your fault, Yundong. You took too long!"
Li Yundong chuckled, then pinched her cheeks with both hands. "I have to finish all the exam questions first, dummy!"
"Um guys... Isn't that..." Cheng Cheng spoke for the first time.
Everyone turned their heads and saw Ding Nan heading over towards them. Seconds later, Ding Nan stopped in front of Li Yundong with a tiny smile adorning her features. "Long time no see, Li Yundong. I see that your fame is growing."
Li Yundong chuckled wryly. "I don't want that kind of fame."
Ding Nan's smile widened as though she had already expected that answer from him. Then, she studied the rest of their group. "You guys are heading to lunch, right?"
"Oh my God... Finally someone who is making sense!" Su Chan said dramatically. "I'm practically starving to death over here and yet these guys are still standing around talking nonse— owww!" Su Chan rubbed her head where Li Yundong had poked her.
Ding Nan chuckled. "Well, here's an idea. Why don't I treat everyone to lunch?"
Li Yundong cleared his throat. "Well, there's no need for that, Ding Nan. As a matter of fact, Senior Feng Na here will be paying for our lunches. But you're welcome to join us..." Li Yundong glanced at Feng Na. "I mean if Senior Feng Na doesn't mind, of course."
Li Yundong smirked a little when he heard Su Chan's frustrated growl behind him.
Ding Nan smiled at Feng Na. "Senior Feng Na. You probably know that Li Yundong saved my life during the shooting, right? I've been thinking about repaying him for days now. So..."
Feng Na returned Ding Nan's smile. "Well, I don't mind. But are you sure though? There are so many of us here." Feng Na gestured at their group. Zhou Qin was staring at Ding Nan with slightly narrowed eyes. Clearly, those two hadn't buried the hatchet yet.
What struck Li Yundong the most though was how different Ding Nan seemed. He hadn't seen Ding Nan ever since their conversation under the tree—after which she had accused Zhou Qin of being a serpent. Seeing her today, Li Yundong couldn't help but notice the change in Ding Nan's demeanor. There was no longer a biting edge in her voice when she spoke. Instead, she seemed friendly and approachable.
"Of course I'm sure," Ding Nan said. "It's my pleasure to treat everyone here. Well, let's see... We still have exams this afternoon, right?" Ding Nan glanced around. She received several nods of confirmation. "So why don't we pick a place near campus? I'll treat you guys properly next time."
After everyone decided on a place, the group began moving away from the academic building towards the campus gates. This time, it was Zhou Qin and Ding Nan who brought up the rear, with Sun Li, Feng Na, and Cheng Cheng leading the way. Li Yundong and Su Chan were sandwiched in between.
At one point, Cheng Cheng leaned towards Feng Na and whispered, "Hey, Nana... Is it just me, or does Ding Nan seem a little... different."
"I know right?" Feng Na murmured. "And what's with that strange vibe between her and Zhou Qin? It's starting to creep me out..." Li Yundong suddenly thought back to the advice he gave Ding Nan the last time they talked. He smiled. He never expected Ding Nan to change that quickly. Maybe it really was just an act? Maybe deep down Ding Nan really was a decent human being.
The group kept moving until they passed the campus gates. In front, Feng Na and Cheng Cheng kept whispering to each other while Sun Li walked quietly beside them. Behind him, Ding Nan and Zhou Qin were conversing with each other as well. He hadn't expected Ding Nan to ever want to talk to Zhou Qin again, to be honest. Perhaps they were taking the first steps to mending their friendship?
"Yundong... What do you think we'd be eating later?"
Li Yundong chuckled. Of course Su Chan would be thinking about food. Of course. Li Yundong patted her head. "We're going to a place near campus. I think they have the same stuff as the cafeteria." Li Yundong regarded Su Chan strangely. "Do you mind? I mean, we could go have lunch on our own if you prefer."
Su Chan shook her head. "Nope!" Then, she blushed all of a sudden. "I… I don't want us to end up as beggars..."
Li Yundong laughed out loud and pinched her nose. "Then maybe you should control your appetite for once, hmm?"
Su Chan pouted and smacked his hand away. "But I'm hungry."
Li Yundong chuckled. "I was just joking. Of course I wouldn't let you starve—"
He bumped into Feng Na, who had suddenly stopped walking. Feng Na barely even reacted when Li Yundong bumped into her. She was straight ahead at a red Lamborghini parked beside the curb. A moment later, the Lamborghini's door swung open. A woman clad in a black, strapless dress stepped out. Dark, coffee brown curls framed the woman's face. Even though her eyes were hidden behind a pair of sunglasses, there was no mistake who that woman was.
"What the hell is she doing here?"