"Lili! Wait!" Boss Zheng shouted, then glanced longingly towards the kitchen. Seconds later, when he realized that he didn't have X-ray vision that would allow him to see through walls, he turned around and ran after Lili.
The landlady stood in the middle of the living room, staring after Boss Zheng until the front door slammed shut with a loud bang.
There goes her pot of gold.
She had been thrilled when she got the call from Boss Zheng. Finally! A potential tenant with deep pockets! And a promiscuous one too! She nearly passed out from excitement when she thought about the number of ways she could extort money from the man. Raising the rent? And all that hush money she'd bag for keeping his little affair under wraps. But now, all her plans had been ruined by a penniless university student!
The landlady cast a glance at Li Yundong.
Well... At least he's still renting the place... she thought.
Good thing she hadn't burned any bridges with this kid earlier. Otherwise this place would be unoccupied.
Then again, she did sound a little harsh when speaking to him earlier, which made things extremely awkward at this stage. Her pride wouldn't allow her to start grovelling to him, begging for him to stay. At the same time, she couldn't act bitchy like she'd been doing earlier, lest she lose her only tenant.
Li Yundong was, of course, clever enough to read between the lines. He knew that this was a good opportunity for him to smooth things over with the landlady. He slowly walked up to Madam He, who was glancing around the living room with a stern expression.
"Look... Madam He," Li Yundong said. "In all honesty, those things were broken by accident. I swear. Come on. I've been your tenant for almost a year now. Have I given you any problems during my tenancy? I pay my rent and bills on time, and I keep the place clean. You know that."
After about ten seconds of silence, Li Yundong sighed and tried again.
"Ma'am, you're a successful business woman. Surely you don't want to waste time engaging in petty arguments with a student like me. You mentioned earlier that the rent has been raised. That's fine. I'll pay the rent according to the new rate. Will that do?"
"Mm... Is that so? Well, I guess I can reconsider..."
"Madam He, there will be no more accidents from now on. I give you my word!"
"Hmph. Your word, huh?” The landlady studied Li Yundong’s face for a few seconds. “Well, since you're a student in need—"
The entire apartment shook violently after the explosion. Shards of broken glass hurtled through the air and clinked to the floor as the windows in the living room and bathroom shattered. The landlady fell on her butt in fright, staring at the kitchen with wide eyes. The kitchen had just exploded.
"Su Chan!!! Su Chan!!!!" Li Yundong dashed towards the kitchen like a maniac. "Su Chan!!!"
Shards crunched beneath his feet as he neared the kitchen.
He glanced ahead, towards the kitchen's entryway. Only the door frame remained; the glass door was gone. Fear clawed at him, tearing his insides to shreds.
Su Chan... Su Chan... Su Chan...
Li Yundong charged into the kitchen, using both hands to shield his head. He didn't even care if there might be a second explosion. Several steps past the entryway, he stopped short. He glanced around, squinting through the smoke.
Su Chan was still standing in front of the stove with her back to him, completely dazed.
Li Yundong ran forward, grabbed Su Chan's shoulders, then turned her around to face him. Su Chan's face was covered in soot, her hair frazzled. She didn't look hurt, just dazed; her eyes were glazed over and she didn't seem to recognize him.
"Hey! Hey!" Li Yundong patted her cheek gently. "Are you okay? Are you hurt?"
Li Yundong felt as though his soul had just been ripped out of his body and then blown into smithereens. He didn't know what he'd do if something happened to Su Chan. He couldn't imagine his life without her now.
Li Yundong patted her face with a little more force this time.
"Hey! Talk to me! Come on, Su Chan! Talk to me! Don't scare me like this!" Another forceful tap. Again, no response.
Then, Li Yundong remembered something. He jabbed a finger at Su Chan's Renzhong.
Su Chan gasped and jumped slightly. Her eyes were wide, though the fog in them had cleared away.
"What kind of sorcery was that?!" Su Chan exclaimed. "It scared me!"
Li Yundong thought he had heard her incorrectly.
"What?" he asked, giving her a strange look.
Su Chan pointed at what was left of the charred stove and got into a fighting stance, her expression wary and vigilant.
"I did what you told me to do just now. Press and turn the button. But then it exploded in my face! I was so startled!" Su Chan gasped, then growled, "Wait a minute... Don't tell me it's got talismans from the Maoshan School? Which one is it? Huoyang Fu? Baolei Fu?" (T/N: "Fu" is typically a piece of paper with Taoist symbols and spells drawn onto them; think the explosive tags from Naruto)
It's just a gas explosion for crying out loud! Has she been watching too much Wuxia dramas... wait, no! That doesn't even make sense... She didn't even know what a TV was!
Li Yundong looked Su Chan over again to make sure she was unharmed. Maybe she had a concussion?
"You're really not hurt?" he asked worriedly.
"Hah!" Su Chan lifted her chin haughtily. "As if a low level magic like this could even scratch me—"
"Oww!" Su Chan glared at Li Yundong, holding her forehead where Li Yundong had just flicked her.
"Stop with that nonsense already! Who do you think you are, a Taoist priest? Geez..."
"Taoist priest? Hmph! You haven't seen half of what I can do..." Su Chan muttered under her breath.
Li Yundong glanced around the kitchen and took in the damage. The kitchen's window was blown away, and there was a hole right in the center of the stove. Every available surface — the fridge, the sink, the walls, the shelves— was covered in soot. Shards from broken plates and mugs were strewn across the floor, and Li Yundong was pretty sure that the gooey smudge under the kitchen counter came from the fish that Su Chan had practiced her samurai skills on earlier. The whole place was basically trashed, yet Su Chan was there, completely unharmed? He'd be lying if he said that it didn't feel a little bit strange.
Li Yundong looked over at Su Chan again. Other than the soot covering her face and the dishevelled state of her hair, there wasn't even a single scratch on her. Which was a relief, of course. But still, it was a bit hard to believe.
However, Li Yundong soon turned his attention to an even more curious problem — the cause of the explosion. He'd been using the kitchen all this while and there had never been any problems.
"What did you do?" he asked, raising a questioning brow.
"I did what you had taught me earlier! Press down on the button and then turn!" Su Chan said, mimicking the hand motions.
Something felt off. He was missing something.
Then, it hit him.
"Wait. I thought the stove was already turned on?" Li Yundong said, narrowing his eyes. "Why did you have to turn it on again?"
Su Chan tensed up, then blushed.
"T- the fire disappeared..." she mumbled timidly.
"Disappeared?!" Li Yundong asked incredulously, shaking his head. "But how?!" There was a pause. Then, he asked again, "Did you turn the stove off? As in turn knob in the opposite direction?"
Su Chan shook her head.
Li Yundong frowned. "Then how?"
Su Chan's blush deepened.
"I- I don't know!" she said. "It was just gone!"
Li Yundong took a deep breath.
"Okay... What did you do after the fire disappeared?"
Su Chan looked towards the kitchen counter.
"I... I went back to the fish..."
"You went back to the..." Li Yundong was beginning to understand how the explosion happened. "Did you turn the stove off before you went back to the fish?"
Su Chan shook her head, then looked down at her feet.
Li Yundong exhaled lengthily. She didn't turn the stove off after the flames supposedly "disappeared." In other words, gas had been leaking out from the stove while she was tending to the fish. When she was finally done with the fish and wanted to use the stove, she turned the knob back, then turned it on again. But the kitchen was already filled with gas by then...
The sound of crunching glass interrupted Li Yundong's thoughts.
He turned and saw the landlady standing at the door with a gobsmacked expression.
The landlady fell flat on her butt.
Li Yundong moved in to help, but she smacked his hands away and burst into tears. "My God!! What have you two rascals done to my apartment! How am I supposed to fix this!"
Su Chan looked towards the landlady, then back to Li Yundong again.
"What's the matter with her?" she said in a tone of confusion. "Did someone in her family pass away?"
When Li Yundong didn't answer, Su Chan pointed at the landlady and said, "Hey! What are you crying for? It's not like you're the owner of this place!"
That remark reduced the landlady into a quivering ball of fat, like a massive piece of vibrating jelly. An angry vibrating jelly.
"I'm not the owner!?" the landlady bellowed. "Who's the owner then? You?! You've just ruined my apartment, you little slut! How are you ever going to compensate me for the damage!"
Su Chan glanced hesitantly at Li Yundong.
"Is... is she really the owner?" she asked timidly.
Li Yundong walked over to Su Chan.
"You idiot!" he hissed, poking Su Chan's forehead gently. "Stand aside and don't say another word!"
Su Chan flinched and lowered her gaze. She had caused trouble again. Argghh.....! Why did I have to open my stupid mouth! How many times have I caused trouble for him already?
Su Chan shuffled backwards and hid herself behind Li Yundong. She stared at her feet nervously, her knuckles white as she tugged at the hem of her shirt. She raised her head furtively and took in the sooty wreck of the kitchen. A pang of guilt hit her, and she dropped her gaze again. It's not like it's my fault... This place is booby-trapped! Someone had placed talismans in here! I was caught off guard!
The landlady sobbed endlessly. Li Yundong approached her tentatively, his expression apologetic and guilty.
"Madam He, all this happened too suddenly. And the gas explosion..." Li Yundong trailed off, choosing his words carefully. "I'm pretty sure it's an accident too. Like a faulty stove."
It had to be.
How else could the flames just "disappear" like Su Chan said earlier?
"Look, I'm not trying to wash my hands of what happened or deny any responsibility, alright? I'll pay for everything. The TV, the light, and also the damage done to the kitchen!"
The landlady's sobbing ceased instantly. Even her tears had stopped.
"You're going to pay for the damage?" she said. "Oh! That's good then! But I'm not renting this place to you anymore. You're probably gonna burn the whole place down if I do!"
Li Yundong went into silent contemplation. Admittedly, it was pretty much impossible for him to continue his tenancy here after everything that happened.
Li Yundong sighed, then nodded. "Alright. I understand. But I still need to find a new place first. So if you could give me seven days—"
"Seven days?" the landlady sneered. "You wish! You have to move out today!"
You're going to pay, you impudent bastard, the landlady thought. I lost my potential tenant because of you. And now look at what you've done to my apartment! I'll be damned if I don't teach you a lesson today!
"Today?!" Li Yundong yelled. "Come on, that's not reasonable! This apartment is filled with my belongings! There is a lot of stuff here!"
The landlady snorted.
"That's your problem," she said. "I don't want you inside this apartment even for a single day! Get out of here! Now!" She pointed at the door. "Or else I'll ask my people to throw your things away!"
"Don't be such a bully..." Li Yundong growled menacingly.
Even though he was technically at fault, this bitch had taken things too far.
The landlady scrambled to her feet and stood with her arms akimbo.
"I'm the bully?" the landlady screamed, waving her finger in the air. "Look at this place! And tell me again that I'm the bully." She dropped her hand to her side. "Whatever. I don't care what you do. Just move out of this apartment! Oh, and don't forget the full compensation fee. Not a single cent less, you hear me? Or else I'll call the cops and have them toss your ass in jail!"
Anger roiled inside Li Yundong's chest. He balled his fists, heaving with unbidden rage.
Su Chan couldn't tolerate the injustice anymore. She stepped out from behind Li Yundong. When she raised her head to speak, however, she saw the death glare Li Yundong was giving her. She flinched, then lowered her head back down. She retreated and hid herself behind Li Yundong again, all the while mumbling something inaudible.
Getting the cops involved was the last thing Li Yundong wanted. For one, he was pretty sure that Su Chan didn't even have an ID card. If the cops got involved, property damage charges were the last thing he had to worry about; Su Chan would be facing illegal immigration charges!
Li Yundong took a deep breath to suppress his rage.
"Madam He, I'll move out. But you have to at least give me a few days to settle things, right? Where am I supposed to stay if you kick me out now?"
"There are so many hotels and inns near your campus. No place to stay? Yeah right," the landlady sneered. "I don't want to hear any excuses. Pack your things up right now, then get out of my sight!"
Breathe... just breathe...
"Okay, fine! Just one day! One day is all I ask!" Li Yundong said. "I'll move out tomorrow!"
"No," the landlady said firmly. "I want you gone. Now!"
"Oh, come on!" Li Yundong threw his hands in the air. "Where am I supposed to go with all my things! And I have a girl with me!"
"Oh, so now you know, you f*cking brat!" the landlady screamed. "Look at yourself in the mirror, you penniless fool! You're so young that you should still be wearing diapers, yet here you are, playing sugar daddy. Who do you think you are?" The landlady snorted derisively. "Pay me now, then leave. Or else I'm gonna call the cops on you!"
Heat swelled inside Li Yundong's chest. He growled menacingly and raised his fist.
Sounds of cracking bones filled the kitchen as his fists shook slightly. At that moment, he was dangerously close to reducing this bitch to pulp with a single punch.
Li Yundong's body language alerted the landlady to an imminent threat. Terrified, she scrambled out of the kitchen, then out the front door. At the corridor, she slipped and fell flat on her butt. That was when she began screaming at the top of her lungs.
"Help!!! Somebody help!!! Someone's trying to kill me!!! This brat ruined my apartment, yet he's trying to beat me to death!!! How could he do this?! Is there any justice left in this world?!"
Every occupant of the apartment building poked their head out to check out the commotion. Soon, a crowd formed outside Li Yundong's apartment; those staying at the floor above and the floor below had come to their floor. Whispers filled the corridor and fingers were pointed at Li Yundong and Su Chan.
Su Chan was furious and miserable at the same time: furious, because of the fat and unreasonable woman who was bullying them; and miserable, because of the trouble she had caused Li Yundong.
Li Yundong stood rooted on his spot in the kitchen, panting and heaving in anger. His body quivered slightly, and his eyes flashed with murder.
After a while, he managed to tamp down the murderous look in his eyes. He took a deep breath, then released a humorless laugh. "Su Chan!"
"Mm?" Su Chan said softly.
"Stay here and wait for me!" Li Yundong said, then ran into the bedroom.
Seconds later, he emerged from the bedroom, his bankbook in hand. He moved past Su Chan and stepped out of the kitchen, stopping in front of the landlady.
"I'm going to make a withdrawal," he said icily. "Tell me the amount, and I'll pay you! However..." Li Yundong stepped into her personal space. "You better don't try to rip me off. Or else..." Li Yundong sneered, then took another step forward. "Even if I end up in jail, I will f*cking ruin you."
The landlady trembled and subconsciously took a step back. Her courage returned when the noticed the crowd around her. She placed her hands on her hips and calculated the amount in her head.
Seconds later, she held up five fingers and said, "50 thousand yuan!"
That was the final straw; a fuse inside Li Yundong's head blew. He burst forward, then dragged the landlady by her collar to the handrail of the corridor.
He hoisted the fat woman into the air with one hand.
"You're that crazy about money? Fine! I'll throw you off this building, then I'll burn the money as an offering to you so you can enjoy it all you want in the afterlife!"