So. Nameless girl had a name now—Jiang Xiuxiu, from the Department of Visual and Performing Arts. Feng Na had let slip the girl's name some time in the middle of this stupid conversation, which Li Yundong wouldn't even bother with if he didn't know that this was another one of Feng Na and Cheng Cheng's pranks.
After a while of giggling and sniggering, Feng Na finally said the words that Li Yundong had been dying to hear since ten minutes ago: "Hey, look at us! We were so busy chatting that we almost forgot about lunch!“
"Oops! You're right, Nana," Cheng Cheng said. "Let's go grab some lunch, then."
Feng Na smiled at Jiang Xiuxiu. "How about you join us?"
Li Yundong raised a brow at Cheng Cheng.
He got another pointed look in return.
Looks like this prank is gonna last longer than he thought.
He wondered when these two were finally going to put Jiang Xiuxiu out of her misery.
His thoughts were interrupted by Jiang Xiuxiu's high-pitched squeal. "Aww… That's awesome! I'd love to join you guys!"
Li Yundong would be surprised if Feng Na's shoes weren't squeaky clean by the time she graduated seeing as Jiang Xiuxiu had a particular fondness for bootlicking.
Then again, Feng Na was probably used to these things by now. After all, this kind of stuff came with the territory—what with her being a senior student with considerable influence and all.
The four of them left the academic building shortly.
The restaurant that Feng Na had in mind was located near campus, so they decided to go to the restaurant on foot.
"Wow... How come there's so many people here?" Jiang Xiuxiu said when they entered the restaurant fifteen minutes later.
Li Yundong took stock of the restaurant. Indeed, the place was jam-packed with people. Guess this would explain why there were extra tables lined up outside the restaurant.
Feng Na smiled wryly. "Well. At least we know that the restaurant's business is picking up." She looked towards Cheng Cheng. "Is Sichuan cuisine really that good?"
Cheng Cheng snorted. "You're from Jiangzhe, right? But look at you, standing right in the middle of a Sichuan place. That says a lot about its popularity, don't you think?"
"I say we just go to the canteen," Li Yundong suggested. "You won't run out of food there no matter how crowded it is."
Feng Na didn't fancy the idea, judging from the hesitant look on her face. "But… you want me to treat you to canteen food? Um... Isn't that a little..."
"It's fine." Li Yundong chuckled. "It's just food anyway."
Feng Na smiled. "Okay then. The canteen it is."
Li Yundong looked towards the others to see if they agreed. Cheng Cheng just shrugged, so he guessed she was cool with the idea. Jiang Xiuxiu, on the other hand, didn't seem too happy with it. He could tell from the look of disappointment that had flashed across her face briefly before it was replaced with a smile, which appeared totally fake.
"Cool! It's my first time eating at the canteen. I wonder what the food is like…"
Feng Na smiled. "Well. Guess you'll find out soon enough." She looked towards Li Yundong. "Shall we?"
Thought you'd never ask...
With that, the four of them turned around and headed back to the campus.
As expected, the canteen was crowded when they arrived. For the life of him, Li Yundong could never get used to the effect he now had on people: the chatter quieted down the moment he walked in; the guys scrambling aside to let him though.
Guess this is what happens when you can dodge bullets and shit. Li Yundong sighed inwardly.
"Wow... Senior Feng Na..." Jiang Xiuxiu said. "So you're pretty famous around here, huh?"
"I do okay, I guess," Feng Na remarked casually. "I've been here for three years after all. Guess I'm a familiar face around here."
"Seriously, Senior Feng Na... It's like you have a commanding presence or something," Jiang Xiuxiu said in awe. "The place got so quiet the moment you walked in. Ooh! Look, look! They are even stepping aside to let you through. Wow! I didn't know you have so much influence!"
Li Yundong bit the inside of his cheeks to stifle a smile. He stole a glance at Feng Na and Cheng Cheng and nearly laughed when he saw Cheng Cheng pinching Feng Na's waist. Feng Na looked like she was about to open her mouth to say something, but then changed her mind when she noticed Cheng Cheng's subtle headshake.
Cheng Cheng gave Feng Na a pointed look, her eyes glinting with mischief.
Feng Na looked like she was struggling not to laugh. Her eyes flicked to Li Yundong's face and lingered there for a second. Then, she cleared her throat. "Come on, guys. Let's go grab some food, shall we?"
Ten minutes later, the four of them were heading towards an empty table with their trays.
"Damn... I gotta say, Senior Feng Na. That was sooooo cool!" Jiang Xiuxiu said after they had taken their seats. "I can't believe I finally got to see an alpha female in action. I mean, wow!" Jiang Xiuxiu looked towards Li Yundong and Cheng Cheng. "Did you guys see how those guys acted around her? It was like they all revered her!" Jiang Xiuxiu sighed wistfully. "I wonder if I could ever gain that kind of popularity..."
It was all Li Yundong could do to keep a straight face. Then, he noticed the look Feng Na was giving him, to which he answered with a smirk and a shrug: Do your thing; it's your show.
Feng Na gave him a smirk in return. Then she schooled her features and turned to Jiang Xiuxiu. "Nah... I'm nothing compared to the legendary Li Yundong, of course." Then, Feng Na reached over and tapped Li Yundong's plate with her chopsticks. "Hey, isn't that right?"
Li Yundong shot Feng Na a withering look. Why does she keep dragging me into this?
Still, Li Yundong smiled and played along. "Yeap!"
"Are you kidding?!" Jiang Xiuxiu's jaw dropped open comically. "But you already have such a huge effect on the students, Senior Feng Na! I can't even imagine what would happen if Li Yundong suddenly walks in! God! It'd probably be like an emperor's march!"
There was a loud snort, followed by a series of coughs. Li Yundong glanced sideways just in time to see Cheng Cheng hiding her smile behind her hand.
Cheng Cheng shot Jiang Xiuxiu a look, then waved her free hand casually. "Oops. Sorry. I choked on something."
Jiang Xiuxiu frowned and gave Cheng Cheng a funny look.
Surely, she must have suspected something by now…
Jiang Xiuxiu smiled and looked away.
Okay. Maybe not. Li Yundong would've taken pity on her if she hadn't outright insulted him earlier.
Feng Na patted Cheng Cheng's back, though her eyes were fixed upon Li Yundong.
"Hey pal," Feng Na said, kicking him under the table. "Do you agree with our dear freshman here? If Li Yundong walks in right now, would the effect be comparable to an emperor's march?"
"I'm sure that's an over-exaggeration," Li Yundong said dryly.
"How's that an over-exaggeration?" Jiang Xiuxiu snapped. "I bet you're just jealous that he's more popular than you."
It honestly baffled him why this girl had such an ax to grind with him. Just because he'd walked away without telling her his name? Seriously?
"I didn't say that," Li Yundong replied with a straight face. "I just think you're putting him on a pedestal, you know?"
And you don't even know the guy, for f*ck's sake.
Apparently, his comment had rubbed Jiang Xiuxiu the wrong way.
"Oh? So you disagree, then? You don't think that his popularity is greater than yours?"
This time, Li Yundong did roll his eyes. Disagree? What does that even f*cking mean? Hello? Didn't I just tell you that that wasn't what I said?
"Yeah, sure. He's more popular and a much bigger badass than I am," Li Yundong said dryly.
Jiang Xiuxiu released a derisive snort and—
Li Yundong, Feng Na, and Cheng Cheng all turned at the sound of that familiar voice. Jiang Xiuxiu, on the other hand, practically leaped off her seat and started glancing around as though she was looking for someone.
Li Yundong studied the two girls who were standing beside their table: one of them was fashionably dressed in what seemed to him to be branded clothes; the other one was plainly dressed, though she had a pretty face and a curvy figure.
"Hello Zhuang Hui," Li Yundong said.
He remembered the girl: she was the girl from the dance club, the one who gave the dance performance during the performance night.
Li Yundong smiled to himself when he remembered Chan'er's shamanistic ritual comment.
Zhuang Hui smiled and shifted her tray to the side. "Can I join you guys?"
"Can't you see it's a bit crowded here?" Feng Na snapped.
There was a snort.
"You know what? Let's just go, Huihui," said the girl beside Zhuang Hui. "What's the point of hanging out with these people!"
The girl stormed away from their table with her tray. Li Yundong glared at the girl. Indeed, it was pointless to hang out with that girl, the same girl who had blatantly insulted Su Chan months ago.
Zhuang Hui watched her friend leave for a moment, then sighed.
Zhuang Hui looked towards Li Yundong. "How about I treat you to lunch next time?"
Feng Na released a cold sneer. "Yeah? You'll have to get in line for that." Feng Na chuckled snidely. "Don't hold your breath though. I'm pretty sure the queue is long enough to reach the moon."
Anger flashed inside Zhuang Hui's eyes. She shot Feng Na a glare before storming off.
Clearly, those two weren't on the best of terms.
Li Yundong looked towards Feng Na. "Something happened between you two?" He jerked his chin towards Zhuang Hui.
Feng Na shot Li Yundong an apologetic look. She smiled, though her smile seemed forced. "Sorry. I shouldn't have lost my cool like that."
Cheng Cheng chuckled. "They're rivals."
Li Yundong looked towards Cheng Cheng.
Cheng Cheng smiled at him. "Oh, you know. Just girl stuff." Cheng Cheng waved her hands casually.
Li Yundong nodded and returned to his meal.
Li Yundong looked up from his tray and saw Jiang Xiuxiu looking at them with wide eyes.
"I... I think I'm missing something here..."
Li Yundong smirked. About damn time, you idiot.
Jiang Xiuxiu pointed a shaky finger at him. "A- Are you saying that he's Li Yundong?"
Li Yundong crossed his arms and looked at Jiang Xiuxiu steadily. Admittedly, he wanted to watch her squirm. Call it payback for all the insults she'd thrown at him since they ran into each other in front of the academic building.
When Li Yundong didn't answer, Jiang Xiuxiu looked towards Feng Na and Cheng Cheng for confirmation.
The two seniors said absolutely nothing.
"B- But how can you be Li Yundong? T- That's impossible..."
God, just how idiotic can this girl get?
Li Yundong rolled his eyes. "Oh yeah? Why can't I be Li Yundong?"
Feng Na and Cheng Cheng burst into laughter right then and there. Li Yundong didn't miss the blush coloring Jiang Xiuxiu's cheeks as she gaped at him. She looked about as mortified as someone who had just wet themselves in public.
Moments later, Jiang Xiuxiu finally found her words. "So you're Li Yundong?"
God! This f*cking idiot!
"Yes... Geez! I practically just told you—"
A guy's voice interrupted him before he could finish his sentence: "What's so nice about this university anyway, Hongling? It's not even popular! It doesn't have good lecturers either. And look! Even the food they serve tastes horrible! Yuck! What's up with this stir fry anyway? It tastes like crap!"
Hongling? Li Yundong turned his head so quickly that he nearly twisted his neck.
Indeed, there was no mistaking those features: high ponytail; prominent forehead; sharp, piercing eyes; that air of confidence.
It was Ruan Hongling.
What was she doing in Tiannan University? The only reason Li Yundong could think of was that Zi Yuan had sent her here to keep an eye on him.
Ruan Hongling slapped her palm on the table, clearly offended by the guy's statement. "Are you done with your yapping, Yan Hua? Where I choose to study is none of your goddamn business, so back off!" Ruan Hongling glared at the guy named Yan Hua. "If you want to go to North Qinghua University, then go ahead. Nobody's stopping you. Why are you here spouting nonsense?"
The entire canteen erupted in cheers: "Well said! Well said!"
"North Qinghua University? He can't even pass the entrance exams from the looks of it!" some dude yelled.
Yan Hua turned and glared at the dude who shouted.
"Haven't you heard of my name, you fool?" Yan Hua retorted. "My grades for the National College Entrance Examination are the best in Tiannan City! You think I care about this trashy university? North Qinghua University sent me an invitation. An invitation. They invited me. But I turned them down for Hongling. You guys got a problem with that?!"
The canteen fell silent.
Then, Yan Hua turned and gave Ruan Hongling a fawning smile. "Come on, Hongling. I was just saying, that's all. Please don't be mad. But I just don't get it. With your grades, you can easily get into North Qinghua. Why do you insist on coming here?"
Li Yundong rolled his eyes. The guy was clearly pussy-whipped.
Ruan Hongling chuckled darkly. "You wanna know why I insisted on coming here?"
Yan Hua nodded. "Of course I do!"
What happened next took Li Yundong by complete surprise: Ruan Hongling pointed a finger at him and said, "I'm here because of him!"
Once he had recovered from his surprise, Li Yundong scowled at Ruan Hongling. "Hey, Hongling! Stop talking nonsense!"
Yan Hua was now staring at Li Yundong, clearly appalled at Li Yundong's use of Ruan Hongling's given name.
Yan Hua shot Li Yundong a contemptuous look. "Oh... So you're the infamous Li Yundong."
God damn it to hell.
Li Yundong was starting to think that Zi Yuan was dead wrong about Tiannan University being a good place for Cultivation.
As far as he could tell, there was only one thing that this godforsaken place was good for: lowering people's IQ points.