"Li Yundong, wait..."
Zhou Qin's voice sounded from behind Li Yundong.
"You should've stayed with the others, Zhou Qin," Li Yundong said without taking his eyes off the bald gangster's frightened expression. "These punks are dangerous."
"Not as dangerous as I am..." Zhou Qin's fingers curled around Li Yundong's wrist. "Let him go. Let me handle this."
Li Yundong turned and raised his brow at Zhou Qin. "You sure?"
Zhou Qin smirked. "Of course. Besides..." She looked towards the bald gangster. "I know how hard you can punch. You could probably kill this weakling with a finger."
"Well maybe I should." Li Yundong tightened his grip on the gangster's collar.
The bald man whimpered.
"But what would that accomplish?" Zhou Qin said. "With you ending up in jail? What about Su Chan?"
Li Yundong released the gangster's collar. The bald man stumbled and fell flat on his butt.
Li Yundong glared down at the bald man. "If this goes south, if this douchebag tries anything funny, then I'm taking over."
The bald man slid backwards on his butt.
Li Yundong looked towards Zhou Qin. "Well. I guess you're calling the shots now."
Zhou Qin nodded and stepped forward. "You people work for He Shao?" she asked loudly, though the question was clearly directed at the gang leader.
None of the gangsters answered.
Zhou Qin smirked. "Then do you know who I am?"
The gangsters looked at each other. None of them spoke. No doubt these punks were terrified by the poise and calmness that Zhou Qin exuded in spade.
"Yes," the bald leader finally said. "He Shao is our boss. And you are?"
Zhou Qin smirked. "I see." She took another step forward. "Then you should call him right now and tell him that Zhou Qin wishes to speak to him."
The bald gang leader looked towards his underlings, then back at Zhou Qin again.
When the gang leader didn't move after a while, Zhou Qin's expression turned stone cold. "Didn't you hear what I said?" Zhou Qin arched a brow. "I said call He Shao. Now."
The bald gang leader shot Zhou Qin a skeptical look.
Li Yundong had reached the limit of his patience.
"Do as she said!" Li Yundong roared loudly. "Now!!!"
The gang leader visibly flinched. A few seconds later, the bastard pulled out his phone and started dialing.
"Hello... Yes, He Shao, it's me..." The gang leader flinched and pulled the phone away from his ear as though he'd just been yelled at. "Well… There's a woman here who wishes to speak with you. Says her name is Zhou Qin."
A few seconds later, the gang leader lowered the phone from his ear and switched it to loudspeaker.
Sounds of heavy panting could be heard. The panting lasted for quite a while before it was replaced by He Shao's voice.
"Well, well, well, Zhou Qin... Is this your way of telling me that you miss me?"
Zhou Qin released a snort of contempt. "So you're associating yourself with the gangsters now? Just how low will you stoop, He Shao?" Zhou Qin paused for a moment. "Then again... Now that this has come to my attention..." Zhou Qin's voice suddenly turned cold. "I suggest you call off your minions unless you want to face dire consequences." Zhou Qin smirked. "You know how incriminating it can be for people like us to have ties with the mafia."
The panting in the phone became heavier and heavier, which eventually turned into a loud, angry roar.
"Do as she says!" He Shao growled.
There was a loud click, and the line was cut off.
The gang leader glanced up at Zhou Qin with reverence. However, when his gaze landed on Li Yundong, the look of reverence changed into fear.
He quickly averted his gaze and climbed back to his feet. He slipped his phone into his pocket, then walked over to Er Lu and his mother, who was still down on the ground.
"Consider yourselves lucky! You better pray that you don't run into me next time!"
The gang leader spat a mouthful of saliva at the woman on the ground.
The woman tried to shield her face by raising her hands, but she was too late—her face was already covered in the man's saliva.
Something inside Li Yundong snapped. A powerful surge of Qi rushed from his navel to the top of his head.
"You son of a bitch!!!!!!"
Li Yundong's roar blasted through the entire street. Seconds later, his voice dissipated into echoes, leaving the sound of car alarms in its wake.
None of the gangsters moved an inch; they all seemed too transfixed too scared to move.
"Apologize..." Li Yundong's voice came out in a low, menacing growl.
Li Yundong snarled and slowly advanced towards the bald gangster.
"A- Argh! Argh!" The bald gangster tried to back away from Li Yundong but ended up tripping over something on the ground and falling flat on his ass once more.
Li Yundong balled his fists and released an angry snarl. "I'm not going to ask again…"
A few other gangsters scrambled towards their leader to help him up. Li Yundong stopped his advance and glared at the thugs. "Apologize to the lady!" He pointed towards the floor where Er Lu's mother was lying. "And wipe your filthy spit off her face!"
The bald gangster flinched. "O- O- Okay! Okay! I'll apologize!"
"Then what the f*ck are you waiting for!" Li Yundong gestured at Er Lu's mother. "Do it now!"
The bald gangster pushed his henchmen away and crawled towards the fallen woman.
"M- Ma'am, I'm sorry..." He pulled out a napkin and patted the woman's face with it.
Seconds later, the bald gangster stood up and shot a fearful glance at Li Yundong as though seeking his approval.
"Now get out of my sight!"
The gangsters didn't need to be told twice. Metal pipes clattered against the concrete pavement as the thugs fled the scene and ran for dear life. Li Yundong's eyes followed the gangsters until they reached the bend of the street.
Once the gangsters were gone, Li Yundong turned and looked towards the Lamborghini. Clearly, he had given everyone quite a fright. President Cao had a hand pressed against her chest while Su Chan gave her a head massage. Feng Na and Cheng Cheng were staring slack-jawed at him as though they couldn't believe what they'd just witnessed.
When Li Yundong turned sideways, he saw Zhou Qin staring at him as well.
"What?" Li Yundong asked warily.
"You're glowing..." Zhou Qin pointed out. Even though her tone was neutral, Li Yundong could detect the tremors in her voice.
Li Yundong raised his forearms. Unsurprisingly, his arms and body were radiating a golden radiance. He'd experience the same thing when he tried to stop Ruan Hongling from hurting Su Chan. Back then, he just ignored the glow and it disappeared on its own. Maybe this time it would too.
"Let's head back to the others." Li Yundong began to move, but then stopped after a few steps. He turned and saw Er Lu crawling his way towards his mother. The vegetable stall owner was struggling to get up. Li Yundong walked over towards the lady and hoisted her up in a fireman's carry. Then, he walked towards Er Lu and offered the guy his hand. When Er Lu took Li Yundong's hand, Li Yundong pulled the man to his feet. Er Lu stumbled slightly, but Zhou Qin was there to support him. Together, they all headed back towards the Lamborghini.
Li Yundong lowered the vegetable stall owner to the ground, then leaned her against the side of the Lamborghini. His movements drew Su Chan's attention away from the head massage she was giving President Cao. Su Chan's eyes widened the moment their gazes met. The next thing he knew, Su Chan was pulling him away from the Lamborghini.
"Sit down," she whispered urgently. "Quickly."
Li Yundong lowered himself to the ground and got into a meditative posture. Su Chan moved around so that she was standing behind him.
"My God... This is the Jindan's aura..."
"This isn't the first time…" Li Yundong said.
"I know," Su Chan answered.
"The last time it happened, it disappeared on its own after I left it for a while—" Li Yundong felt a sharp prick on his spine between his two shoulder blades. "Hey..."
Minutes later, the pricking sensation was gone. "Alight, we're done."
Li Yundong rose to his feet again and patted Su Chan's head. "Thanks princess."
Li Yundong took Su Chan's hand and led her back to the others.
"I'm sorry you girls had to see that..." Li Yundong said, stopping in front of Feng Na.
"Y- Your whole body was glowing just now..." Feng Na said, pointing at Li Yundong's face. "And now you're back to normal..."
Li Yundong rubbed the back of his neck. How the f*ck was he supposed to explain any of this shit? "Well—"
"But oh my gawd!" Feng Na gave him a thumbs up. "That was so badass!"
Clearly, Feng Na was stepping into her role as the president of the Li Yundong Fan Club.
"I thought you'd be terrified of me now," Li Yundong said wryly.
"Oh, I was! But that was only because you look like you were about to tear that bastard into pieces—"
Li Yundong turned around.
Cheng Cheng was standing across the street, trying to yank the metal ring out from the cracked pavement. When the metal ring didn't budge after several tries, Cheng Cheng let go of the metal and started gaping at them like a fish. The look on the poor girl's face was so hilarious that Li Yundong burst into guffaws.
"Hey! Mom! What are you doing— Owww!"
"Come with me you good-for-nothing child!"
Li Yundong turned his head back to the Lamborghini. The vegetable stall owner was heading over towards him. And apparently, it wasn't just her; she was dragging his son over towards him.
The woman kneeled when she was a few feet away from Li Yundong.
Li Yundong's eyes widened in shock. "Hey— Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! What are you doing!" Li Yundong bent down to help the woman up.
The woman pushed Li Yundong's hands away and then slapped herself across the cheek, hard.
"Oh, what a blind fool I've been!" The woman started sobbing violently. "Oh, I can't believe this! Y- You..." The woman sobbed harder. "You came to our rescue even after I swindled a hundred yuan from you back then... Thank you, thank you, thank you! And my son... Oh, my good-for-nothing son... You saved his life as well... Oh, how am I ever going to repay you!"
"Li Yundong stepped forward again. "Ma'am—"
"I have nothing valuable to give you. So please accept my kowtow as a gesture of my gratitude!"
The woman prostrated herself until her forehead touched a spot on the ground near Li Yundong's feet.
Li Yundong sighed, then pulled the woman to her feet. "Just forget about the 100 yuan, okay? That's already in the past." He put a hand on the woman's shoulder. "Are you hurt anywhere?"'
The woman shook her head.
"Then you should take your son home and sort out the mess he's caused." Li Yundong turned towards Er Lu. "And you!" He glared at the man. "You should be ashamed of yourself! How can you allow your own mother to take a beating by a bunch of thugs. And in broad daylight no less!"
Something tugged inside Li Yundong's chest, and he softened his tone. "Can't you see how much your mother loves you?" Li Yundong glanced at the vegetable stall owner again. "She was willing to take a beating for you." Some of us doesn't even have parents... Or at least parents who give a f*ck. Li Yundong shook his head and pointed a finger at Er Lu's face. "You better get your shit together and start treating your mother right from now on!"
Er Lu broke apart right then and there. He threw his arms around his mother and started bawling like a child, not caring at all that he was in public. "I'm sorry, Ma! I'll never gamble again!"
Er Lu's mother sniffed, then patted her son's back. "Okay, okay... Let's live a good and honest life for now on, okay?" The pair hugged each other and kept crying and crying without any signs of stopping.
At one point, Li Yundong felt the sting of his own tears in his eyes. He struggled not to let them fall. He wondered if his own mother even knew how he was doing right now, or if she even care whether Li Yundong was alive or dead.
Something warm slid into Li Yundong's palm. He looked down and saw Su Chan lacing their fingers together.
"I'm here, Yundong. I'm here." Su Chan stared deeply into his eyes. "You have me."
Li Yundong sniffed and patted Su Chan's head. After that, he stepped forward and cleared his throat harshly.
Er Lu and his mother stepped out of each other's arms and shot Li Yundong grateful looks.
"It's alright, now," Li Yundong said. "You guys should get out of here before those guys change their minds and return with more people."
After that, Li Yundong returned to Su Chan's side and wrapped his arm around her shoulders. Standing side by side, they watched the gradually diminishing figures of Er Lu and his mother.
"I'm proud of you, Yundong," Su Chan whispered. "So proud..."
Li Yundong smiled and gave Su Chan an affectionate look. "That's good enough for me. Because your opinion is the only thing that matters to me."
Su Chan wasn't looking at him though. Instead, she was staring straight ahead. Suddenly, Su Chan patted his arm, then pointed at something in front. "Yundong, Yundong, look!"
Li Yundong raised his gaze and saw Er Lu running back towards them. When Er Lu was about three feet away, he kneeled down in front of Li Yundong and gave Li Yundong three full kowtows. This time, Li Yundong was too stunned to stop him. When Er Lu raised his head, his forehead was covered in blood. "I, Er Lu, apologize for all my wrongdoings in the past, especially for all the troubles I've caused you, my savior!"
Li Yundong shared a glance with Su Chan, who seemed just as surprised as he was.
"I never should have tried to pick on a good man like you! But I am turning over a new leaf starting today! I will follow your example and be a good, kind, and responsible man! And from today onwards, you have my full loyalty, my brother! Rest assured that if there is anything you need, big brother, just say the word and I will be there in an instant!"
"Listen, dude..." Li Yundong said.
Er Lu lifted his fist, then uncurled his pinky. "I swear to you on this pinky!"
Zhou Qin and the other girls shrieked when Er Lu bent his pinky until it snapped into a grotesque angle.
"Hey!" Li Yundong and Su Chan moved forward. Su Chan already had a needle in one hand, ready to help fix Er Lu's broken finger.
"It's okay, big brother." Er Lu stood up and smiled through his pain. "This broken finger is a token of my loyalty to you. I swear to you on my life that you have my allegiance forever!"
Er Lu ran back towards his mother.
When Er Lu and his mother vanished around the bend of the street, Li Yundong turned back to face everyone.
"Well!" he said, clapping his hands together. "Who's hungry?"
Awkward silence pervaded. And then…
Su Chan was the one who answered.
Why was he not surprised?