This whole fiasco kind of reminded Li Yundong of an old Chinese saying: an unlucky man would hurt his teeth even from taking a sip of water.
Well, right now, Li Yundong's teeth did hurt a little, but probably because he'd been grinding them too hard while he envisioned a thousand different ways to restructure Yan Hua's face.
In the end, he tamped down his anger and went back to his food. The braised pork ribs on his plate was decisively much better-looking than that condescending look on Yan Hua's face.
It was probably best if he finished his lunch quickly and then get out of here. He'd been wanting to ask Feng Na and Cheng Cheng about Zhou Qin, but that could wait until later.
"Hey, Li Yundong," Yan Hua yelled from a few tables across. "Look at me when I'm talking to you."
Li Yundong looked up from his plate. The look of condescension was gone. Right now, Yan Hua just looked jealous. It was a wonder that the guy's eyes hadn't turned green already.
"What's your relationship with Hongling?" Yan Hua asked.
Man, this guy must be seriously off the rocker if he actually believed that there was something going on between Li Yundong and Ruan Hongling. Seriously? Couldn't the idiot detect the air of hostility between them?
Li Yundong sneaked a glance at Ruan Hongling and caught the girl rolling her eyes.
"We're just friends..." Li Yundong said, then let his voice trail off. Somehow, that didn't sound quite right. "On second thought, we're not friends."
The girl had tried to kill his beloved Su Chan. He wouldn't call such a person a friend.
Yan Hua sneered. "Oh? Are you implying that you're more than friends?"
Li Yundong rolled his eyes. "Did I say that?" He looked towards Feng Na, then Cheng Cheng. Both girls shook their heads. "See? I didn't." Li Yundong lowered his gaze back to his plate. Lunch didn't seem all that appealing now.
There was a ruckus: the scraping of a chair against the floor; Ruan Hongling's harsh whispers; then hurried footsteps.
Li Yundong looked up from his plate once again. Yan Hua was now making his way towards their table with Ruan Hongling following closely behind.
Li Yundong sighed. What the hell are these idiots up to?
Once the pair got close enough, Li Yundong shot Ruan Hongling a glare. "Look. I don't know what you're up to, but you better don't cause me any trouble here!"
What happened next took him by surprise: a pair of hands seized his collar.
"Enough, Yan Hua! What do you think you're doing!" Ruan Hongling yelled. "God. You're such an idiot!"
Li Yundong's collar tightened when those hands jerked upwards. There was a loud clatter when Li Yundong's chopsticks dropped onto his tray.
"Raising your voice at a woman? Are you even a man?" Yan Hua jerked Li Yundong's collar again. The movement knocked Li Yundong's tray sideways. "Just come at me if you have a problem! Leave the girl out of it!"
Li Yundong gave Yan Hua a cold stare. "Let go. Now."
"Oh, yeah? You—"
Li Yundong wrapped his fingers around Yan Hua's wrist, and then twisted it into a joint lock.
Yan Hua yelped.
Li Yundong gave Yan Hua's chest a light shove. Unfortunately, he had underestimated his strength: Yan Hua was flung 4 or 5 meters away with both feet elevated at least a meter off the ground.
Before Li Yundong could step in to hopefully prevent another Li Yundong vs Director Qian scenario, Ruan Hongling reacted by jumping backwards and then catching Yan Hua's body in midair.
Li Yundong glanced down and stared at his own hand.
He had forgotten how much stronger he had become after passing the Zhuji phase. But in his defense, he really didn't push Yan Hua that hard. Scout's honor.
The sound of a loud slap made Li Yundong look up.
Ruan Hongling had one hand raised in the air. She didn't look happy.
"Are you nuts?!" Ruan Hongling yelled, then smacked Yan Hua's arm. "Are you seriously gonna pick a fight with him?" She pointed a finger at Li Yundong. "Do you think you're a match for him?"
Yan Hua looked utterly mortified. "A- A r- real man win battles with.. with words! N- Not with their fists!"
"Yeah? I wonder who grabbed his collar first," said a guy from a few tables down.
Ruan Hongling chuckled. "You know what?" She suddenly turned to Yan Hua. "If you can beat him in a debate, I'll acknowledge how good you are!"
Yan Hua's face lit up in satisfaction. "Really?"
Ruan Hongling nodded. "Mm-hmm."
Yan Hua turned to face Li Yundong and raised his chin haughtily. "So. Li Yundong! I challenge you to a debate! How about that? Do you accept my challenge?"
When Elder Sister Zi Yuan asked Ruan Hongling to enroll at Tiannan University, Ruan Hongling had agreed with that request in a heartbeat. The plan was for Ruan Hongling to keep an eye on Li Yundong while he was in the university. Besides, Tiannan University was located in a remote area, thus making it a relatively peaceful place, which would help Ruan Hongling's own training.
Admittedly, Ruan Hongling had an ulterior motive for agreeing to Elder Sister Zi Yuan's request so readily: she wanted to keep a close eye on Elder Sister Zi Yuan's "lover-to-be" and make sure that he didn't fool around. In other words, she wanted to help keep Li Yundong's perverted, sex-starved, and Don Juan tendencies in check.
Which was why it nearly drove her nuts earlier when she saw Li Yundong sitting at the same table with three beautiful women.
This was unacceptable!
How dare he betray Elder Sister Zi Yuan like that!
This was unforgivable!
"A- A r-real man win battles with... with words! N- Not with their fists!" Yan Hua stammered.
Ruan Hongling gave him a sidelong glance.
That idiot had been crushing on her since they were in junior high, and now he had even followed her all the way to Tiannan University. Well... Since he's already here... I might as well put his presence to good use. Ruan Hongling smirked, then chuckled. "You know what?" She turned so that she was facing Yan Hua. "If you can beat him in a debate, I'll acknowledge how good you are!"
Yan Hua brightened up instantly. "Really?"
Truth be told, the mere thought of doling out praises to Yan Hua brought a bad taste to Ruan Hongling's mouth, but she had no choice—the situation called for it.
Ruan Hongling could now feel Li Yundong's glare on her. Served him right for acting like a playboy. Ruan Hongling smirked. Let's see if those three girls would still hang out with that pervert after Yan Hua humiliates him in front of them...
"So. Li Yundong!" Yan Hua said loudly. "I challenge you to a debate! How about that? Do you accept my challenge?"
Seconds passed in silence. Ruan Hongling stole a glance at Li Yundong.
She was met with a glare which brought chills down her spine.
The Heir could be terrifying if he wanted to.
"What the hell is your damn problem, Ruan Hongling!" Li Yundong growled. "You're adding fuel to the fire for no reason at all!" Li Yundong pointed at Yan Hua.
For no reason? Hah. I beg to differ.
Li Yundong suddenly rose from his seat and took a step towards them. "Whatever you're planning? I suggest you stop it now," he growled, then pointed at Yan Hua. "I don't want any part of this nonsense. So cut it out!"
Li Yundong's glare turned outright murderous. Fear coursed through Ruan Hongling, and she took a step back unconsciously.
As much as Ruan Hongling hated to admit it, she felt intimidated by Li Yundong's combat prowess. More importantly, she feared the Jindan's power coursing through his meridians. He could already kick her ass even before he passed the Zhuji phase.
Now that he'd passed the Zhuji phase...
Ruan Hongling suppressed a shudder. She didn't even want to imagine how a fight between herself and Li Yundong might turn out.
Yan Hua stepped forward and puffed out his chest. "Don't be afraid, Hongling. I'm here!"
You? Ruan Hongling laughed out loud. What can a bookworm like you do? No matter how despicable Li Yundong was, he was still the Jindan's Heir. Even Elder Sister Zi Yuan had only good things to say about his talents. Ruan Hongling glanced at Yan Hua and shook her head. An idiot like you isn't even in the same league...
"Is bullying girls all you know?" Yan Hua said cockily. "I told you already. If you have a problem, just come at me. Leave Hongling out of it!"
Li Yundong smirked. "You're out of your depth, man."
"You..." Yan Hua growled.
Ruan Hongling turned around abruptly and started walking towards the canteen's exit. Li Yundong was right. Yan Hua was out of his depth. Hell, she was out of her depth.
God. She must be out of her mind.
This was the Jindan's Heir, not some random punk.
What had she been thinking?
"Wait! Hongling! Don't go! Wait for me!"
Hurried footsteps sounded behind her, but Ruan Hongling kept walking.
"C'mon, Hongling! Where are you going?!"
Annoyance flared inside Ruan Hongling. She stopped and whirled around and glared Yan Hua.
"Shut up, bookworm! Where I go is none of your business!" She turned around and started walking again. "And stop following me! Ugh, you're so annoying."
"So you think I'm a bookworm as well?"
Ruan Hongling released a low growl and came to another halt. She turned around slowly and faced Yan Hua with her hands on her hips. That hurt look on his face should've made her feel sorry for the guy, but for some reason, it just enraged her even further.
"No, you're not a bookworm! You're an idiot! A moron! You're dumb! Do you get it now?"
Yan Hua paled instantly. "What did I do...?"
Ruan Hongling rolled her eyes and stormed off.
"Hey! Don't go! Tell me what I did wrong! Is it something I said?! Come back!"
After Ruan Hongling and Yan Hua left the canteen, Li Yundong sat down at their table and picked up his chopsticks.
Feng Na and Cheng Cheng were both staring at him.
He sighed and lowered his chopsticks. "What?"
"Honestly, Li Yundong..." Feng Na said, feigning a pensive look. "Trouble follows you everywhere."
Li Yundong shrugged and went back to his meal.
"You didn't piss off either of them before this, did you?"
Li Yundong put down his chopsticks again. "No..." he said. "I don't even know what their problem was. Now can we have lunch in peace?"
Cheng Cheng pressed her palms together and held it in front of her chest as though she was praying. "You think trouble won't find you just because you're low-key? Tsk. Tsk." Cheng Cheng shook her head. "Trust me, pal. The word low-key doesn't even apply to a man like you."
Li Yundong shot Cheng Cheng a skeptical look.
Cheng Cheng shrugged. "You stick out like a sore thumb no matter where you go. I mean... Just look at you. Tsk. Tsk. Those eyes. So sharp and piercing. And look at your hair. It's longer now, which gives you a cool, larger-than-life look. Just imagine what happens when there's a breeze... Rawr!" Cheng Cheng gave him a teasing look. "Sooo attractive... It really makes me want to eat up your delicious......"
Li Yundong raised his brows.
Cheng Cheng smirked.
"… your delicious…braised pork ribs." With that, Cheng Cheng reached out with her chopsticks and stole a piece of pork ribs from his plate. "Ooh! Hey, this is really good."
Li Yundong kept staring at Cheng Cheng while she stole yet another piece of pork rib from his plate.
He recovered his stupor the moment Feng Na started laughing her head off. Moments later, Li Yundong joined in the laughter as well.
"Hah. Very funny. You think you're so damn funny—"
Something caught Li Yundong's eye: Jiang Xiuxiu was still standing beside her unoccupied chair, gaping at him.
"Why are you standing there?" Li Yundong pointed at her chair. "Sit down and eat."
Jiang Xiuxiu snapped out of it, though she seemed to be blushing even harder now.
"Well? What are you waiting for?" Li Yundong pointed at the chair. "Have a seat—"
Jiang Xiuxiu screamed into her hands, and the next thing he knew, Jiang Xiuxiu was bolting out of the canteen as though her ass were on fire.
"See?" Li Yundong jerked his thumb towards the canteen's exit, then looked towards Feng Na and Cheng Cheng. "It's your fault for pranking her. And you two call yourself good seniors. Tsk! Tsk! You should be ashamed of yourselves."
Feng Na laughed. "As if you're not in on the prank as well!"
Li Yundong feigned a look of horror. "I did no such thing."
Lunch went on peacefully after that fiasco earlier.
Li Yundong finished his food first. He laid down his chopsticks and waited for Feng Na and Cheng Cheng to finish their meals. When both of them were done, Li Yundong leaned forward slightly in his seat. Alright. Time to get down to business.
"Um, have either of you seen Zhou Qin lately?"
Feng Na looked up from her tray. "Zhou Qin?" She frowned. "Wait, why are you asking me? She's in your class, right?"
Li Yundong sighed. "I didn't see her in class today. I was just wondering where she is, that's all."
"Maybe she has some personal matters to take care of?"
Li Yundong frowned. Yeah. He bet she had a lot of matters to take care of, most of which probably had to do with him.
She's in trouble. She's definitely in trouble...
"Something's troubling you..." Feng Na remarked.
Li Yundong looked up and found Feng Na eyeing him carefully.
"And it's got something to do with Zhou Qin," she said.
Silence spread between them. Cheng Cheng hadn't said a word, but Li Yundong knew she was paying attention to them.
"What is it?" Feng Na asked.
Li Yundong shook his head. "It's nothing. I just need to ask her about something, that's all."
He didn't want to tell Feng Na and Cheng Cheng about the horrible night He Shao died, not because he didn't trust them, but because he wanted to keep both of them out of trouble. He'd researched the He family after his return from Tibet, and he had to admit that the He family's influence wasn't something to be trifled with.
Zhou Qin had some protection from the claws of the He family due to her own family background, and Li Yundong could take care of himself because he was a Cultivator; but Feng Na and Cheng Cheng would literally be defenseless if they got involved.
"Maybe she'll show up in a few days," Feng Na said reassuringly. "Don't worry."
Li Yundong sighed. "I really hope you're right."
Try as he might, Li Yundong couldn't shake this terrible feeling he had inside his gut.
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