Li Yundong chuckled when he heard Kris' accusation.
"Well, what can I say?" Li Yundong shrugged. "It's part of our tradition. It sounds sexist, true. But it's also true that a huge part of the curriculum wasn't designed for women and might even be dangerous for a woman to go through."
The smug look vanished from Kris's face. For a moment there, Li Yundong thought he was about to have a third sparring match.
Li Yundong met Kris's heated glare head on. The poor girl looked utterly affronted, like Li Yundong had just slapped her in the face. From that alone, Li Yundong could tell that she was unaccustomed to having her requests flat out denied, especially by guys. Hardly a surprise. Which straight guy could say no to a leggy blonde who looked like she had just walked off the stage of Miss World 201X?
From her clothes and the way she carried herself, Li Yundong was pretty sure she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth. On second thought, make it two silver spoons. She honestly looked like she'd been living in a palace all her life.
After a while, Kris huffed and stormed away.
Li Yundong turned away from Kris at the sound of Vice-chancellor Ke's voice.
Vice-chancellor Ke walked past Kris and approached Li Yundong.
"You'll be asked to come onstage later to greet Mayor Luo," Vice-chancellor Ke continued in a friendly tone. "Try not to embarrass the university, okay?"
As if Li Yundong gave a rat's ass about the reputation of a university who wouldn't hesitate to throw him under the bus in order to preserve their reputation. Even so, Li Yundong nodded politely. He'd had enough fights and quarrels for one night, thank you very much.
Vice-chancellor Ke and the professors left the backstage with satisfied looks on their faces.
John, much to Li Yundong's annoyance, was still following Li Yundong around like a love-sick puppy.
"Sheep-foo! Sheep-foo!" John yelled, then went on to spout a bunch of words in English.
Li Yundong thought he'd have better luck understanding a dog's woofs than all that gobbledygook.
Then, Li Yundong heard a chuckle beside him. He turned to see Feng Na leaning in to whisper to him: "He's asking you... err... well, begging you to be exact, to teach him Mandarin first before officially accepting him as a disciple."
Li Yundong laughed.
"Damn, this guy's rather persistent isn't he?" Li Yundong paused in thought. "Well, tell him that he won't be able to learn much since he'll be leaving soon."
Feng Na giggled, then began translating Li Yundong's words for John.
John, much to Li Yundong's amusement, looked so happy that it was as though he could kiss Feng Na for being his translator. John, reached out and held both of Feng Na's hands in his, then opened his mouth. Blah, blah, blah. More gobbledygook.
Feng Na pulled her hands away awkwardly and took a step back. She cleared her throat and said, "He said he doesn't mind as long as he can learn even a little bit of Mandarin from you. Said that he would still work hard."
Li Yundong burst into laughter.
"Nobody learns Mandarin that way," Li Yundong said. "Besides, he'll return to the States in two days. Hell, he might even forget all about this discipleship thing once he's back home. My art can't be picked up in just a few days. He has to spend at least a few years to master it."
John's eyes went wide after Feng Na had translated for him. A moment later, he began yelling a bunch of gibberish in English again.
Li Yundong shot Feng Na a questioning look.
Feng Na smiled at Li Yundong and said, "He said he'll apply for an international student exchange program once he returns. He's willing to study in Tiannan University as long as you promise to take him as your disciple!"
Li Yundong gaped at Feng Na. Seriously? he thought. This guy would go that far?
Feng Na laughed at Li Yundong's gobsmacked expression, then patted his shoulder. "Look at you, huh? You've even got a foreign fan now! I knew it was the right call to make you my idol! From now on, I'll become the leader of your fan club!"
"The handsome and charismatic head of a martial arts school," Cheng Cheng piped up, "and the gorgeous leader of his fan club. A match made in heaven!"
Feng Na blushed instantly. "Stop talking nonsense!" she said, glaring at Cheng Cheng.
Li Yundong studied Feng Na's face and noted how gorgeous she was. At that moment, the rosy tint on her cheeks only increased her allure, making her look like a beautiful teenage girl.
Even so, Li Yundong didn't let his gaze linger for long. Yes, he acknowledged that Feng Na was gorgeous, but that didn't mean that he was moved by her beauty. Well, to be fair, he couldn't be moved.
He only had eyes for Su Chan.
Despite her embarrassment, Feng Na had been studying Li Yundong's expression furtively after Cheng Cheng made that remark about her and Li Yundong as a couple. Unfortunately, what she saw filled her heart with disappointment. Li Yundong's eyes were clear and innocent; there was neither lust nor passion in them when he looked at her. What hurt the most, however, was the fact that he didn't even let his eyes linger, like it was just a passing glance.
The sound of Li Yundong's laughter pulled Feng Na out of her depressing thoughts. "Tell John that I'll consider taking him as my disciple once he's fluent in Mandarin."
Feng Na forced herself to smile, then began translating Li Yundong's words for John.
When John claimed that he would apply for a student exchange program to study here at Tiannan University, Li Yundong assumed that the guy was just saying that on a whim. After all, nobody in their right mind would leave the University of Pennsylvania to study in a garbage university like Tiannan University. No frigging way.
That was why Li Yundong told Feng Na that he'd consider this discipleship as long as John became fluent in Mandarin. Even if leaving the University of Pennsylvania wasn't enough to discourage the guy, surely leaving the University of Pennsylvania and having to master a foreign language would do the trick.
However, it soon became apparent to Li Yundong that he had overestimated John's sanity. After Feng Na had translated his message for John, John began to beg Li Yundong to teach him a Mandarin phrase.
Annoyed by John's endless pestering, Li Yundong decided to mess with John a little. A slow smirk formed on his lips, and he waved John over. John complied and practically trotted towards him like an obedient puppy.
Beside him, Li Yundong could feel Feng Na, Cheng Cheng, and Su Chan watching him curiously. You know what, scratch that. Everyone in the backstage was watching him, no doubt curious to find out what he was planning to do.
Li Yundong cleared his throat, then held up a finger.
"Ni-hao..." Li Yundong said, trailing off. (T/N: Ni-hao means "hello")
"Yeah! At least be more creative!"
Li Yundong ignored the students' protests.
He smirked. "Ni-hao, da-sha-bi!" (T/N: da-sha-bi means "big fool")
For a moment there, Li Yundong almost thought the laughter in the backstage would clue John in and ruin his prank. Moments later, Li Yundong realized that he had absolutely nothing to worry about; John was an eager student.
"Neee-how, taa-shaar-pee?" John said.
"Tsk, tsk, tsk, no, no, no," Li Yundong said, shaking his head, then held up his finger again. Once he was sure that he had John's rapt attention, Li Yundong said, "Ni-hao, da-sha-bi!"
"PFFT... HAHAHAH!" Su Chan burst into laughter. Then, she hid herself in a corner of the backstage, smacking her chest as she laughed her head off.
Li Yundong smirked, then nodded slightly at John. Then, he gestured at John to continue practicing the Mandarin phrase.
There was a shuffling of feet and the sound of footsteps followed by more two rounds of laughter. Li Yundong turned and saw Feng Na and Cheng Cheng joining Su Chan at the corner, laughing their heads off.
"A-HA!" John said, snapping his fingers. "Neee-hao, daa-sha-bee!"
Li Yundong nearly started laughing as well when he heard that. Good thing he hadn't, otherwise the whole prank would be ruined.
All of a sudden, the backstage's door burst open. Li Yundong quickly held a finger to his lips and signaled John to be quiet.
A professor stepped into the backstage, then paused when he saw that the students were laughing their heads off.
"What are you guys still doing here! Get onstage! The mayor's waiting!" the professor said, then stormed off.
"Nee-hao, da-sha-bee!" John said once the door was closed.
Li Yundong smiled and nodded at him. "Ni-hao, da-sha-bi."
With that, Li Yundong and the students involved in the performance left the backstage, leaving roars of laughter in their wake.
Feng Na's eyes followed Li Yundong as he led the students onto the stage. Somehow, she couldn't take her eyes off him. What the hell is wrong with me, she thought.
Hell if she knew.
Then, she felt someone poking her side.
"Just tell him if you’re attracted to him," Cheng Cheng said.
"Me? Attracted to him? Please," Feng Na scoffed, blushing heavily. "I like guys who are older and more mature than me!"
"Yeah, keep telling yourself that," Cheng Cheng said with a smirk.
Feng Na glared at her bestie. It probably would've worked if she hadn't been blushing like a schoolgirl.
Cheng Cheng went on, "You know you can't fool me, Nana. I saw the way you were looking at him just now, like he was the world's tastiest dessert."
Feng Na laughed and shoved Cheng Cheng playfully. "You're just making that up!"
Feng Na sighed wistfully. "Besides, it's not like I stand a chance," she said with a wry smile. "He already has such a beautiful girlfriend."
"So. Not even someone as beautiful and outstanding as you is confident in winning his heart, huh?" Cheng Cheng said with a disappointed sigh. "Then I guess an ordinary girl like me wouldn't stand a chance."
Feng Na gave her bestie a curious glance. "You're interested in him too?"
"Of course I am," Cheng Cheng said. "A guy like him is so hard to come by after all... To be honest, I didn't really find him that attractive when he was kicking ass onstage earlier. But the way he saved John's life just now... that calmness, and that confidence, my God. At that moment, I really thought he was super attractive. I would've fought tooth and nail for him if he was still single..."
Feng Na poked Cheng Cheng playfully. "Oh, you slut! You're the one who's interested in him, yet you're trying to goad me!"
Cheng Cheng twisted away from Feng Na's hand. "And you think you are any better?" Cheng Cheng said, sticking out her tongue. "You're attracted to him, but you won't even admit it. Coward!"
Feng Na and Cheng Cheng kept teasing and goading each other until Feng Na caught a glimpse of Zhuang Hui leaving the backstage area. Zhuang Hui had just finished reapplying her make-up and was now heading back onto the stage.
Feng Na let out a dejected sigh.
"Enough, okay?" Feng Na said wryly. "Even if Li Yundong was still single, it would be a pretty tough fight. There are already so many competitors. Did you see Zhuang Hui checking him out just now? And if I'm not mistaken, Zhou Qin is also interested in him."
Cheng Cheng nodded. "Ugh, why is it so hard to meet a decent man?" Cheng Cheng let out a huff of frustration, then looked up at the ceiling, crossing her hands in prayer. "God, please give me a good man. I promise I'll be loyal to him. I'll wash his underwear and clean his socks and—"
Feng Na rolled her eyes and gave Cheng Cheng a shove. "Stop being a drama queen! Now, come on, we're needed onstage."
It didn't take long for the stage to become jam-packed with students and professors. John stood in front of the crowd, smiling with the intensity of a hundred suns. Thanks to his near-death experience earlier, John became the star of the event. Well, second to Li Yundong, of course.
When the mayor came onto the stage and asked (there was a translator with the mayor) John how he was doing and if he was alright, John nearly leaped up in joy. He leaned in and whispered something into the translator's ear.
The translator gave John a look of surprise before turning back to the mayor. "Mayor Luo, Mr. John said that he'd just picked up a Mandarin greeting phrase earlier. He also said that he would like to greet you with the phrase."
"Oh? Is that so?" Mayor Luo said, putting his hands behind his back to exude an air of authority. "By all means, let him try! It is refreshing indeed to see so many foreigners learning our language. It implies that our country has established a strong foothold in the international arena, wouldn't you say! Go ahead, young man, show us what you've got!"
John didn't understand a thing the mayor had just said, so he stared at the translator expectantly. When the translator gave him a nod, he nearly did a fist pump right then and there.
John stood up straighter and squared his shoulders, then cleared his throat.
An instant change went across the expressions of Mayor Luo and the rest of his entourage.
The entire hall plunged into silence...