Li Yundong rubbed his eyes and slowly sat up on the carpet. Ugh... What time is it? he thought, glancing around. His eyes immediately landed on Su Chan, who was stretched out beside him on the carpet. Su Chan was fast asleep and was lying in the same posture as the first time he saw her.

A smile crept onto Li Yundong's face. Somehow, she looked even more innocent while asleep. Light streamed in from the balcony, accenting the smoothness of her fair cheeks. The tenderness he saw there made his heart grow tender as well.

Adorable... he thought, reaching out. He stilled his hand when it was an inch away from her face. Nah... I shouldn't disturb her...

For a while, Li Yundong just sat there, watching her sleep. Eventually, he noticed the bloody towels strewn over the carpet and remembered what happened back on campus.

Li Yundong raised his hand and patted his face a few times. No blood, he thought, sighing in relief.

Images flashed inside his mind. He was practicing Qi control during a lecture and Zhou Qin tapped him on his shoulder. After that he went berserk and nearly killed a guy. Li Yundong shuddered at the memory. Man, this is some dangerous shit... Can't believe I nearly died just because someone tapped me on the shoulder while I was practicing Qi control... Li Yundong glanced at Su Chan, who was beside him. I would've died if Su Chan hadn't been there to save me...

All of a sudden, suspicion rose inside him. Why did things go so horribly wrong when he practiced Qi control? There were probably millions of Qigong practitioners in the world, yet he'd never heard of any mishaps like this. And bleeding from all seven openings on his face during his first day of training?

None of this added up.

If anything, his near-death experience was just another confirmation to a suspicion that he already had — something was different about him. For a while, Li Yundong just sat there, chewing over everything. All of a sudden, every little thing that had happened to him over the past few days came flooding back to him: that strange ball of heat he'd been feeling in his chest lately; those Taekwondo kicks he was able to perform with ease; the strength and energy he felt in his muscles; heck, even the nosebleed.

What the hell happened to me?

Then, it hit him.

Su Chan happened.

All these changes began to show after Su Chan came into his life. He glanced down at the beautiful woman slumbering peacefully beside him.

Did she cause these changes in me?

Li Yundong spent the next few minutes trying to figure out the ways in which the presence of a beautiful woman could induce superhuman attributes in a man.

Superhuman libido, yes, but never superhuman strength.

Argh... might as well just ask her, he thought.

"Hey, Su Chan..." he whispered, shaking Su Chan's shoulder gently.

Su Chan moaned hazily, which sent a wave of heat straight to his junior. Not the time, little guy. Not the time.

He shook her again. This time, Su Chan's eyelashes fluttered a few times before her eyes opened slightly.

"Oh, Yundong? You're awake?" she mumbled. "You're okay? Good... I'm... glaaad. I... I'm so sleepy..."

Li Yundong laughed. Just like that, his earlier concerns were shoved to the back of his head. It didn't feel right to start grilling the girl about his newfound superpowers now when she needed her sleep. Heck, she'd probably dragged his sorry ass home since he didn't even remember walking home.

"Go sleep in your room if you're tired. It's more comfortable sleeping on a bed."

Su Chan wiggled her curvaceous body on the carpet a few times.

Dammit! Down boy! Down!

When she finally stopped wiggling, her eyes were closed.

"Mmm... I don't wanna!" she whined. "Don't wanna move... Too sleeeeepy. Carry me..."

God, this girl's gonna be the death of me... Li Yundong thought, rising to his feet.

Then, he bent down and picked her up in a bridal carry. She felt as light as a feather in his arms, which wasn't surprising at all considering he was able to pull off ninja tricks while carrying her on his back last time. Su Chan wrapped her arms around his neck, then rubbed her cheek against his chest. When Li Yundong arrived at the door of the bedroom, she started snoring.

Oh, how he loved this adorable girl to death!

Li Yundong chuckled and walked into the bedroom. At the bed, he lay her down gently, then bent over to adjust her pillow. However, when he tried to reach for the blanket, she clung to his arm tightly, refusing to let go. He tried to gently pry his arm free, but pulled up short the moment he noticed the state of her shirt. The hem of her shirt had ridden up to her sternum, leaving her toned and flat abs open to view. Her scent permeated all corners of the dark and quiet room, wafting into his nostrils, teasing his heart and soul.

Li Yundong knew it was dangerous to stay, but somehow, he couldn't bring himself to move away and get out of the room, so he sat down on the edge of the bed and watched her sleep.

After a while, he caught a glimpse of the alarm clock on the nightstand. 10 PM. In the past, he'd be neck-deep in online games at this hour.

Tonight, however, all the lights in his apartment were off, and there were no signs of activity.

Li Yundong realized something else right then. His physical attributes weren't the only things that had changed ever since Su Chan moved into his apartment; his whole life had changed, including his worldviews and also his attitude towards life. Li Yundong had always been an avid gamer, yet, all of a sudden, those games had now lost their appeal. Instead, all his interest was now focused on this beautiful girl with a mysterious past.

Su Chan released Li Yundong's arm, then turned, reaching blindly for the blanket. When she found the blanket, she hugged it to her chest, then curled herself into a bundle. She shifted and wiggled about for a while, and by the time she stopped moving, she was lying on her side, facing away from him. Even so, her posture was...

Well, let's just say that Li Yundong had never seen a rounder and sexier butt in his life.

Oookay... time to go...

He was probably going to do something really stupid if he stayed. He stood up and switched on the air-conditioner before leaving the room quietly. He went back to the living room and lay down on the carpet, staring off into space until he finally fell into a hazy sleep.

 

***

 

The warmth of the morning sun teased Li Yundong's face. His eyes blinked open while his hand fumbled about the carpet for his phone.

10 AM!!!!!

Li Yundong sat bolt upright on the carpet.

Oh... shit!!! I've missed half of morning class already!

THUMP. THUMP. THUMP.

Li Yundong ran towards the bathroom and yanked the door open—

Holy mother of... Li Yundong stared slack-jawed at Su Chan, who was standing in front of the vanity counter, yawning and scratching her hair. And boy he never thought his pyjama shirt would look this good on her, especially when it flowed loosely around her body like a minidress. Not to mention that the placket between the top two buttons afforded him a view of her voluptuous—

He was losing his goddamn mind.

It was as though there was a black hole inside his mind, sucking away all his thoughts. He stood there, staring at Su Chan, utterly transfixed. The questions he'd been dying to ask her were all but forgotten. Then, Su Chan turned around. She opened her mouth to speak, but then stopped.

THUMP. THUMP. THUMP.

Su Chan was standing in front of Li Yundong, hands grabbing his upper arms and eyes wide as she carefully studied his face.

F*ck. Don't tell me I'm bleeding again?

Not an unlikely scenario, what with this bombshell of a woman parading around half-naked in his pajamas…

Li Yundong reached up and touched his face.

There was no blood.

"What?" he finally asked. "Is something wrong with me?"

Su Chan burst into laughter, causing Li Yundong to frown.

"Wha—" Li Yundong was dragged towards the mirror by Su Chan.

"Look! Look! You've lost weight!" Su Chan pointed at the mirror excitedly, her eyes curving into cute crescent shapes as she beamed at him.

Li Yundong glanced at his own reflection. What in the world...

Gone was his double chin, and in its place, was a chiseled face with a well-defined jawline.

Li Yundong's hand traveled down to his abs unconsciously and realized that the flat tire he'd been sporting all this while was gone too.

"I... I've lost weight!" Li Yundong said, his tone a mixture of joy and surprise.

Su Chan's grin grew even wider. "Yup! Yup!" she said, nodding vigorously.

Li Yundong chuckled, then went back to checking himself out in the mirror.

"Hey, you know what?" he said, turning his face around to see it from different angles. "I think I don't look half bad after losing weight!"

Su Chan made a face at him, which made him want to pinch her cheek hard, then kiss it better.

"And it's all because of me!" she grumbled in annoyance.

Li Yundong gave her a puzzled look. Huh? What does my losing weight have to do with her?

It wasn't like he had the privilege to engage in bed—ahem—room activities with her... yet.

Then again...

He supposed it made sense.

Ever since Su Chan came into his life, he'd been running around, picking fights, and climbing walls. And all those things must've burnt a ton of calories. So, yep, losing weight definitely made sense.

The look of puzzlement on Li Yundong's face turned into amusement.

I bet this girl is shamelessly asking for a reward!

Not that rewarding Su Chan was a bad thing. He'd be happy to reward her any day, any time. In fact, she didn't even have to do anything and he'd still try his damnedest to please her, simply because her joy was the source of his own happiness.

After all, isn't that the simplest kind of happiness in a romantic relationship between a man and woman — to derive joy in your joy, and to share your pain when you're in pain?

Little did he know that his interpretation of Su Chan's thoughts was way off the mark. To Su Chan, Li Yundong's new look was the combined result of: Renyuan Jindan's reformation of his body; the Three-Pronged Flower Gathering technique that she'd performed on him, allowing him to indirectly go through the Xiao Zhoutian process; the fact that he had actually survived the Zouhuo Rumo state. All three had one thing in common — they contributed significantly in the activation and unblocking of Li Yundong's meridians. (T/N: Zouhuo Rumo is a generic term that refers to the physical state in which Cultivation training goes wrong; in the present context, it refers to Li Yundong’s Qi destroying his body from inside) 

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the presence of obstructed meridians in one's body is one of the leading causes of excessive body fat storage. Having meridians that are fully activated and unobstructed allows one's blood and Qi to flow and circulate more freely through the body, which in turn speeds up the body's metabolism and allows the body to burn more calories. This is why all the great Cultivators in the past —those who became Shenxians— had lean and muscular bodies. In fact, their meridians were activated to such a level that it was nearly impossible for them to become fat!

"Wow..." Li Yundong said, still admiring his own reflection. "I almost can't remember what I looked like before."

Su Chan grinned at Li Yundong happily, though she was happy for a completely different reason: Yay!!! He lost weight!!! Which means he's already reached the end of the Lianqi phase's intermediate level training!!!

Lianqi is the second phase of Cultivation. To complete it, there are nine training exercises that a Cultivator has to complete: Yangjing; Guyuan; Famai; Kuojing; Qining; Ziru; Neiguan; Guanxiang; Liantai. Each of these exercises corresponds to a dan or degree in the Lianqi phase. For example, a Cultivator who manages to complete Yangjin is said to have reached the 1st dan of the Lianqi phase.  

These nine dans are themselves grouped into three training levels — basic, intermediate, and advanced.

Basic level Lianqi training involves the completion of the first three dans, Yangjing, Guyuan, and Famai, which Li Yundong had breezed past thanks to the Renyuan Jindan.

Intermediate level Lianqi training involves the completion of the Kuojing, Qining, and Ziru (4th to 6th dans). Among the three, Kuojing, which literally means "the widening or expansion of the meridians," will take the longest time to complete. However, Li Yundong had already completed the Kuojing exercise when his body entered the Zouhuo Rumo state — the rampant flow of Qi had caused his meridians to expand and widen.

After Kuojing comes Qining, which involves learning how to condense and gather one's Qi at a particular spot of the body. The completion of Qining would grant the Cultivator superhuman strength — they could lift 500 kilos with ease. With Ziru, the Cultivator learns how to summon and control his Qi at will, thus allowing them to utilize their Qi in combat situations.

Sunlight streamed into the bathroom via the small window, showering Li Yundong's face with its warmth. For a moment there, Su Chan almost thought his face was glowing, as though his face was covered by a layer of powdered gold. His eyes were sharp and spirited, and his entire being exuded charisma.

Seeing this reformed version of Li Yundong, Su Chan was instantly reminded of the teachings of Buddha. According to the 27th verse of the Diamond Sutra, there are seven treasures in a man's body, and five punctures in a woman's body. In other words, men have a distinct advantage over women when it comes to Cultivation.

It goes without saying then, that Li Yundong, a male Cultivator who had been enhanced by the Renyuan Jindan, could achieve so much more than most Cultivators ever could. In just a few days, he had breezed past the first phase of Cultivation to reach the intermediate level of the Lianqi (second) phase.

As a woman, Su Chan would have to undergo meditative seclusion for a whole month just to fully absorb the Jindan's power!

The quicker he progresses, the sooner I'd be able to perform Yang Feeding on him... which means...  

That thought should've cheered her up and made her jump around in joy, but it didn't. Instead, she was hit by a pang of sadness, longing, and fear.

 

***

 

Li Yundong's admiration of his own reflection lasted until he became disgusted with his own narcissism. He turned away from the mirror and struck a manly pose.

"So. Think I can become a movie star?" he said, grinning smugly at Su Chan.

So much for him being disgusted with his narcissism.

"Moo-vie star?" Su Chan asked.

Li Yundong sighed, then straightened himself into his normal posture.

"Never mind," he said with a dismissive wave. "Well, today's a weekend. Let me take you out and have some fun!"

Su Chan's face brightened instantly.

"Yay!!! Where's fun? Where's fun? Where are you taking me?"

Before he could come up with a location for their "date," his phone rang. He ran back to the living room and answered it.

"Li Yundong!!!!!"

The shrill voice on the phone caused him to wince.

He pull the phone away from his ear before it started bleeding again.

Good morning, Sun Li, he thought, putting the phone back to his ear.

"Hello to you too, class rep," he said.

"Who do you think I am, huh? Your personal assistant?!"

Li Yundong chuckled.

"Well, I don't think I can afford someone as high-maintenance as you, honey."

"Shut up, you bastard!! Where the hell are you?! Everyone's waiting for you to show up!"

"Err... what?"

"The rehearsals, dumbass! The rehearsals! For the exchange visit! God, how the hell did you manage to forget something so important?" He heard an exasperated sigh over the phone. "Whatever. Feng Na from the student council is breathing down my neck asking me when you're gonna show up. I've already done my part and called you. This is your problem now!"

"Err... class rep. Are you drunk? It's Saturday today. The rehearsal's on Monday."

Sounds of Sun Li's laughter filled his ears.

And no, she didn't sound amused. At all.

"Li Yundong, you really need to have your head examined," Sun Li mocked. "Today is Monday, you moron! Guess you still haven't recovered from your Hulking out episode the other day."

Li Yundong lowered his phone and checked the date on the screen.

Holy shit!

He slept for two days straight?!

Li Yundong sighed. Well, guess it can't be helped then...

"Yo, class rep. Ask Feng Na if she'd handled my little problem yet. Tell her that I won't be there unless she'd settled it!"

"Why don't you get your ass over here and ask her yourself? I don't have time to deal with your problems!"

CLICK!

The busy tone was all he heard after that.