When Li Yundong and Su Chan arrived at the campus the following day, Li Yundong wasn't surprised at all to find that they attracted stares and whispers everywhere they went.
For all the whispers and voices they attracted, the entire lecture hall fell silent the moment they walked in.
All eyes were now on Li Yundong.
Sun Li was the first one to break the silence.
"Haha! Look who's here! The superstar!" she yelled, pointing her finger at Li Yundong.
The next thing that happened made Li Yundong wish he'd skipped today's class altogether.
Semester credits be damned.
Books and stationery were knocked to the floor as a throng of students moved towards Li Yundong and Su Chan in a wild stampede.
"Please give me an autograph!"
"Zhenren Li! Zhenren Li! Please accept me as your disciple! Oh, before that, I want an autograph!"
Li Yundong gaped at the students who were looking at him like a bunch of puppies.
What the f*ck is the matter with these people... geez!
More jostling and yelling ensued as his classmates tried to elbow their way to the front of the crowd.
Li Yundong sighed and waved his hand dismissively.
"Listen, guys," he said. "This is too much. Can we just skip the drama and get on with class please?"
"Ooh... look at him, pretending to be humble," Sun Li said teasingly. "So, fellow classmates. What should we do with him, eh?"
"Take off his clothes!" some dimwit yelled.
"Yeah! Strip him!"
"Good idea! He'll never be a Zhenren the moment he shows his, ahem, remember? He can be humble all he wants once he's no longer a Zhenren!"
Li Yundong grabbed Su Chan's hand and began backing away towards the lecture hall's exit. At the door, he turned around to get out, but then stopped short when he noticed Kris, John, and the other foreign visitors heading towards the lecture hall.
Oh man... give me a break... Li Yundong thought. They're probably here to settle the score because of the prank I pulled on John yesterday...
Li Yundong would rather deal with his classmates than those foreigners. Not that he actually could, since he wouldn't be able to understand a single thing other than "cheap poo," "sheep poo," or whatever. Well, he could communicate with that blonde chick, Kris, but she looked like she hated his guts, so it was probably a bad idea too.
Time for a change of tactics.
Li Yundong turned around to face his classmates then held out both hands in front of him to quiet the students.
When the uproar died down, Li Yundong cleared his throat and began to speak. "Listen, my dear friends..." he said. "I'll sign autographs or do whatever you want. Just not now, okay?" He dropped his voice into a whisper. "I pissed off the Americans, and they're now heading over. Please hide me and don't tell them I'm here. After that, I'll give you guys an autograph each, deal?"
Li Yundong looked at his classmates hopefully.
Moments later, a girl who was standing in front of the crowd gave Li Yundong a once-over and said, "Sure! Make way for our Zhenren, guys!"
Once the crowd dispersed, Li Yundong led Su Chan to their seats. When they both sat down, Li Yundong exhaled lengthily.
"Yes, my dear little princess?"
"What's an otto-gaff?"
Li Yundong chuckled.
"An autograph," he said, giving Su Chan a funny look. "Well, it's nothing special. It's just a signature, that's all."
"Oh..." Su Chan said. "But why did they want your signature?"
Li Yundong contemplated on how best to answer Su Chan's question. "Well, people usually ask for another person's signature if that person is famous, or has the potential to be famous. I guess there are two reasons people do that. The first, they can show off to their friends and family. And the second, they can sell the autograph for a good price."
Su Chan's eyes sparkled. "You can sell signatures?"
"Sure. If the person whom that signature belongs to becomes famous, then it can be sold at a high price."
"Hehe..." Su Chan grinned. "Then... I want your signature too!"
Li Yundong chuckled. "What do you need my signature for anyway?"
"I want to collect hundreds of your signatures," Su Chan said, gesturing with her arms. "After that I'll be rich!"
Li Yundong burst into laughter, then ruffled Su Chan's hair. "The signatures will lose their worth if there's too many of them, silly!" he said, staring at Su Chan adoringly. "Besides, it's not like my signature is worth shit."
Su Chan's face fell. "Oh..." she said, pouting.
Seeing Su Chan's adorable expression, Li Yundong couldn't resist teasing her a little. "Well, if you want my signature that badly, I can sign it just for you," he said in a low voice. "That way, your copy of my signature would be worth a good price."
Su Chan's face lit up. "Really?" she asked.
It took every bit of Li Yundong's willpower not to laugh right then. "Yep! Honest!" he said. "But... you need a pen and a notebook. Do you have them?"
Su Chan's shoulders sagged.
"No, I don't," she said. "What should I do?"
Li Yundong allowed a tiny smirk to form on his lips.
"Well... there is a way..." he said cryptically.
"What? What?" Su Chan blinked at him innocently.
Li Yundong leaned forward and brought his lips to her ears.
"I can sign my name on your body," he whispered.
Su Chan pulled away and started giggling.
"Meanie! That tickles," she said, shoving Li Yundong gently. "And you're so shameless!" She made a face at Li Yundong.
Before Li Yundong could tease Su Chan further, someone took the seat beside his. He turned, then flinched when he saw Kris sitting there, glaring daggers at him.
What the... I thought we had a deal! I told those guys to—
A head appeared from the row behind before Li Yundong could even finish that thought.
Li Yundong shook his head.
"Damn, you two sure are persistent," he said, leaning back in his seat with a sigh. "Listen, you're returning to the States in two days. What's the point of this? Why not enjoy the rest of your stay here? Go check out the campus sights or something." Li Yundong turned around and looked at John. "OK?"
"OK! OK!" John bobbed his head up and down.
Li Yundong burst into laughter. Somehow, he doubted that John understood a single thing he'd told him. Well, other than the "OK."
Kris turned her head abruptly and yelled something at John in English, which made Li Yundong laugh even harder.
"SHUT! UP!" Kris yelled at John, causing him to flinch.
"Oh, come on Kris! What did I do to piss you off this time?"
"He's trying to get rid of us," Kris said, glaring at Li Yundong who was still laughing his head off at their expense. "He thinks we're unworthy of becoming his disciples."
"How could you think that, Cheap Poo! Oh! How you've hurt my feelings! I'm serious about becoming your disciple, okay?"
Kris rolled her eyes at John's antics.
"Such a drama queen," Kris muttered under her breath.
"What did he say?"
Kris turned and saw Li Yundong looking at her expectantly. She huffed and relayed John's words in Mandarin.
"Well, since your friend is so serious about becoming my disciple, why don't you ask him to prove it to me by learning how to speak Mandarin?" Li Yundong said. "Oh, and also, he needs to get a PR here in China, otherwise I won't teach him."
Kris gave Li Yundong an affronted look.
This... this... how dare he! she thought.
Admittedly, when Kris found out that she and her classmates had a chance to attend a lecture in Tiannan University, she thought that her opportunity to settle her score with Li Yundong had finally come. The bastard had lied straight to her face about not taking female disciples and then pulled that stupid prank on John! She wouldn't be able to return to the States in peace if she didn't at least try to give the guy a piece of her mind. So, she did some digging and asked around for Li Yundong's schedule to find out which lecture Li Yundong would be attending today. After that, she told her professors that she and her classmates had chosen that particular lecture to attend. John had been exhilarated with her choice, going on and on about finally convincing Li Yundong to take him as a disciple.
To Kris, however, discipleship came second.
Today was about settling their score!
"How can you say that!" Kris said to Li Yundong, totally forgetting about the fact that she had yet to translate Li Yundong's words for John.
"We just told you that we're sincere about learning from you, yet here you are, dismissing us without even giving us a chance. You're the one who's insincere! This is outrageous! You're ruining the relationship between our nations!"
"Hey, hey, watch your tone," Li Yundong sneered. "You wanna ask me to take you as disciples? Fine. Go ahead. That's your business, and I don't have the right to stop you. But don't forget that it's my business whether I want to take you on as my disciples. I have the right to choose whom I accept as my disciples. And what's this nonsense about ruining the relationship between our nations, huh? Seriously? You're dragging International Relations into this? What does that have to do with anything? This is basic human rights!"
"Yo, just give it a rest, Kris," one of her classmates interrupted her. "You know you can't force others to do your bidding. Maybe they really are bound by rules."
"Yeah, Kris. I read somewhere that the Chinese people take matters like discipleship very seriously."
Her classmates' dissuasion made Kris pause to reconsider her actions. They were right about everything. Heck, she knew they were right, since she was known as the Chinese expert back in her university. Well, she wasn't called "the perfect amalgamation of Venus and Minerva" for nothing. She was known by everyone in her university to be a girl with both looks and brains, beauty and wisdom, seductive allure and knowledge.
At this point Kris could at least admit to herself that she was going about this the wrong way. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath and allowed her anger to subside.
When her eyes re-opened, they were filled with determination and resolve. She stared at Li Yundong intently.
"I won't give up. One of these days, I'll convince you to take me as your disciple! And him too, of course." Kris jerked her thumb at John who was sitting one row behind.
Damn, this girl sure is feisty! Li Yundong thought. Kinda reminds me of the people from Hunan.
Li Yundong smiled at Kris.
"Fine. Let's just see how it goes then," he said casually. "To be honest, I'm rather curious how you two plan to convince me as well."
For the life of him, Li Yundong couldn't figure out why Kris even wanted to become his disciple. For John, it was understandable, since he was passionate about martial arts. But Kris? What could she possibly hope to learn from him? Maybe it was a joke? But Li Yundong couldn't deny that this "joke" of hers was starting to feel a little too serious.
After that, Li Yundong ignored the foreigners and glanced around the rest of the lecture hall. His eyes paused at the door when he saw it open. The lecture hall once again fell silent when Ding Nan and Zhou Qin entered.
Ding Nan elbowed Zhou Qin's side gently when she caught a glimpse of Li Yundong sitting among the foreigners. When Zhou Qin looked at her quizzically, Ding Nan jerked her chin in Li Yundong's direction.
A look of tenderness formed in Zhou Qin's eyes the moment she saw Li Yundong. She gave Li Yundong a brief nod in greeting.
That little nod was such an ordinary action for most people, yet when used by Zhou Qin, the ice queen of Tiannan University, it was downright earth-shattering.
Some of the girls who knew the ice queen well found their jaws dropping to the floor.
"My God, did you see that? Since when did Zhou Qin take the initiative to greet others?"
"Could it be that she's interested in Li Yundong as well?"
"She's throwing a birthday party tonight, right? Did she invite you?"
"Nope. But Sun Li, our class rep got invited. I heard that the attendees are all beautiful women and handsome men."
"Ah, dang. I really wonder what it's gonna be like to attend the ice queen's birthday party..."
The whispers and chatters in the lecture hall petered out when the professor arrived.
So began several hours of boredom and ennui.
The lecture ended around noon. By some miracle, Li Yundong managed to survive through hours of the professor's droning. The moment the professor dismissed the class, he shot up from his seat and pulled Su Chan out of the lecture hall. However, they didn't go home because he had afternoon classes to attend, so Li Yundong decided to bring Su Chan to the university's cafeteria to grab lunch.
Li Yundong felt a gentle tug on his sleeve when they were queuing up to get their food.
"Yundong... Why is everyone staring at me?" Su Chan asked curiously.
"They're staring because they can't help it," Li Yundong said. "You're too beautiful."
Su Chan's face lit up. "Really?"
"Nope. Just kidding."
Su Chan's face fell. "Meanie!"
Li Yundong chuckled and pinched Su Chan's nose.
Once they had bought lunch, they walked towards an unoccupied table with their trays. The table was long, so they both sat down side by side on the front end of the table.
Halfway through lunch, Li Yundong noticed something strange. Their long table was still empty despite the cafeteria being crowded.
"So this is what it feels like to be famous, huh..."
The moment he said it, he heard a girlish laugh beside him.
"Your skin's getting pretty thick now, huh, Li Yundong!"