He had never seen so much blood in his life. It was everywhere, filling his lungs and mouth with a metallic tang. It didn't take him long to realize that he was drowning.
His arms flailed about as he fought against the viscosity, trying to propel himself towards some surface that he wasn't even sure existed. When he realized that his arms weren’t enough, his legs joined in the struggle. A fruitless struggle was what it was. Nothing he did was of any use. He was fighting against a whirlpool, a vortex, which was pulling him further and further towards its center. He screamed, causing crimson liquid to gurgle around his mouth. When he reached the center of the vortex, he thought he was about to die in the strangest way possible — his body was squeezed and elongated into a spaghetti-like structure, like he was being flushed through a pipe whose diameter was too small to fit his girth.
Just when he thought he was dead, he could suddenly breathe again. Fresh air without the scent of blood filled his lungs. How nice.
But strange, where did all the blood go? And why was he floating in mid-air? No, wait. He wasn't floating. He was descending towards... a hospital? The hospital’s facade grew larger and larger. Then, everything faded into a white blur, like he was wearing a bubble-shaped helmet and someone was hosing the visor with some sort of milky liquid. There was a voice. A woman. A middle-aged woman. He recognized that voice.
"... I'll find another woman for you in the future. One that's a hundred times better than her! That Zhou Qin is just a cold-hearted woman with a powerful father! Just forget about her!"
The last part of the woman’s statement was uttered in a voice so shrill that it caused the images to crumble, and he was suddenly transported elsewhere.
Campus... He was on campus... The academic building, where...
He gasped when he saw Zhao Yujian's dead body, lying alone in a sea of crimson. Zhao Yujian's head was bashed in, and one of his eyes was missing. Again, he heard that woman's voice, the same woman in the hospital. But now she wasn’t yelling or screaming. She was crying. He turned around, but failed to see any woman in the area. The compound in front of the academic building was empty except for him and Zhao Yujian. He wondered where the woman’s voice came from.
Something strange was happening to the ground. At the center of the blood pool, where Zhao Yujian's body lay, the blood began to flow out in a strange pattern. Ruddy lines formed on the ground, but he couldn't make out its pattern.
He took a few steps towards Zhao Yujian's body. The woman's crying voice grew louder, and the blood continued to move. Then, he had this strange feeling that something was approaching him from above. When he glanced up, he saw a tiny, spherical object descending from the sky. With one hand, he shielded his eyes from the sun's brightness, then grabbed the falling object with the other. The object felt soft in his palm. When he uncurled his fingers, he screamed and dropped the object. The eyeball rolled away from his feet as his screams grew louder and louder. Suddenly, his body rose from the ground. This time, he was floating away from Zhao Yujian's body and up into the sky. The eyeball continued to roll around until it became too small to be seen. As he rose, the blood pattern on the ground became clearer and clearer. Suddenly, there was a voice.
"An eye for an eye..."
It took him a second, but he eventually realized that it was his own voice.
When he glanced down, the blood pattern on the ground stared right back at him. It was a word.
Li Yundong's eyes shot open, and light entered his eyes like a gentle wave, sweeping him away from the ocean of slumber towards the shores of wakefulness. The crisp morning air brushed over his legs, chasing the last vestiges of sleep away.
Li Yundong sat up with a groan, then leaned his back against the headboard. His blanket, he realized, was now a tangled mess on the floor just beside his bed.
Li Yundong dropped his gaze and stared at his hands. No blood. No gore. No eyeballs. Just a dream, huh? Even though it was weird as hell, not to mention disturbingly vivid.
Li Yundong sighed and ran a hand through his hair. Strange shit was happening to him these days, yet he was nowhere close to getting some damn answers. The only thing he knew for sure was that these changes had something to do with Su Chan. But for some reason, she seemed super keen on keeping him in the dark. Why? Why not just tell me?
Li Yundong would be a blind fool if he didn't realize by now that he had somehow turned into a superhuman. Seriously, the stuff that he could now do...
Well, it was f*cking occult was what it was.
Super hearing? Telescopic vision? Hell, clairvoyance! This was like X-men shit!
Wait, was that it? Was he a mutant now? But then what did that have to do with Su Chan? What was her role in all this?
Was it radiation exposure? Maybe Su Chan's body was contaminated with a radioactive substance? Shit! Was Su Chan an alien?! Nah, that couldn't be right. No alien could be that hot. Besides, she'd been around other people since they met, but none of the others seemed to be affected by her presence. Okay, so it wasn't radiation exposure then.
What if it was some kind of drug? Maybe it was an experimental drug from the military, like the supersoldier serum? Well, that would certainly explain how he had slept for three days straight when he first met Su Chan. Was he in some kind of drug-induced coma? In hindsight, that seemed quite plausible. Should he go to a hospital and get his blood work done? And then what? Face federal charges if it turned out that he had really been injected with an experimental drug from the military? He couldn't even settle his bank debts at this point let alone afford a lawyer. God forbid he ended up on death row.
No. Something about that drug theory felt off. First of all, how the hell did Su Chan have access to military drugs? She didn’t even know what a TV was when they first met. Okay, maybe the drug didn’t come from the military. But if these changes were caused by a drug, then why didn't he get his super hearing right after he met Su Chan? Could it be that he'd been given different drugs at different times? Maybe the drug that gave him super strength and the one that gave him super hearing were two different drugs? But that wasn't possible either. He was pretty sure that Su Chan hadn't given him any weird stuff since they met... Wait! Those needles! She'd poked him a few times with those needles! What if the drugs were administered through those needles? But he thought that was just acupuncture! Wait, no, that didn't make sense either. He didn't go into a coma after she'd poked him with the needles. Nor did he end up sleeping for days on end—
Li Yundong wanted to smack himself in the head.
These abilities must've been caused by all the Qi-control practice he'd been doing! Before his fight with Huang Yifei, Su Chan had taught him a Qi-control technique known as the bridging of three gates, which involved forming a bridge with his Qi to link his three Dantians together. That was how he'd managed to send Huang Yifei and John into the air without his fist ever touching them.
Dammit! There were still loose ends. For instance, if Qi control truly was responsible for him getting these crazy abilities, then why couldn't the other Qigong masters do it? At least he assumed that they couldn't do it, otherwise they would've been featured on TV ages ago! Besides, if these skills really existed out there in the world, they would've been monetized! There would be ads and flyers everywhere! After all, the possession of such knowledge could easily turn someone into a millionaire. The military would've paid any amount for a chance to build an army of supersoldiers. Also, the Qi-control theory couldn't explain how he'd gotten his super strength and super agility just days after he met Su Chan: generating 1456 pounds with a single punch on the strength tester; sending Zeng Qing into the air; crushing Zhao Yujian's leg; the parkour stunt he pulled off; climbing his way up to the dorms' rooftop using just two walls. He didn't know anything about Qi control back then. So how come he could do all that stuff?
Then, another possibility hit him. Maybe it's both... Maybe his abilities were caused by a drug and Qi control. The timeline certainly made sense. He received the drug on the day he met Su Chan, which caused him to sleep for three days. After that, he woke up with super strength and super agility. And then he got these new abilities after Su Chan taught him Qi-control. Maybe that was why the other Qigong masters couldn't do it! Because they didn't have the benefits of the drug!
But Su Chan had super hearing too...
Maybe she took the drug as well?
Okay. That made sense. The drug must’ve originated from wherever Su Chan came from (maybe her master made it?), that could explain why Su Chan had it in the first place.
But why would she give it to a nobody like Li Yundong?
It was clear to him now that the answer to all his questions lay in Su Chan's origins, which Su Chan was hellbent on keeping from him. Maybe he was just a tool to her? Maybe Su Chan was looking for a test subject to test out the drug's effect? That must be why she gave it to Li Yundong, the chubby nobody! Because nobody would give a shit and start asking questions if chubby nobody Li Yundong died because of the drug. That must also be why she insisted on following him around at all costs, so that she could constantly observe the drug's effect! Maybe—
Li Yundong dispelled his dark thoughts with a shake of his head, then got out of bed. He shouldn't jump to conclusions. I'm not just a tool... she has genuine feelings for me...
Li Yundong took a deep breath and padded across his room. He stopped in front of the sliding door for a moment, then drew the curtains apart. The cityscape instantly came into view. Skyscrapers sparkled in the morning sunlight as though they were donning glitter costumes. Cars and buses crept slowly along the streets, stopping once in a while to wait for the lights to change. Off in the distance, the horizon coruscated with a golden hue, sending shafts of light into the sky as Tiannan City was roused and began a brand new day.
Ironically, the normalcy felt a little jarring. Everything seemed so habitual and routine, almost as though yesterday's tragedy never happened.
Li Yundong unlocked the sliding door, then opened it just a tad. He slipped through the gap, shutting the sliding door behind him. The buzzing in his ears grew louder the moment he was on the balcony, so he released his Qi from his Shenting to deactivate Mingmu, Eryue, and Xianjue (T/N: Skills obtained after completing the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd dan of the Ningshen phase; Mingmu gives telescopic vision, Eryue gives long-range hearing, and Xianjue gives temporary clairvoyance). As useful as those skills were, right now he wanted them gone. He just needed a moment of peace to process the horrors he'd witnessed yesterday.
The guy who got shot in the back didn't make it. Li Yundong found out about the news last night when he was browsing the university forum. According to a post made by the deceased close friend, the guy died in the ambulance en route to the hospital. The paramedics tried everything they could to resuscitate him, but there was really nothing they could do — the guy had lost too much blood. Minutes after Li Yundong saw the post, the entire forum was shut down, no doubt one of the measures employed in the vice-chancellor's Operation Cover Up.
As if taking down a few forum posts could erase the trauma and horrors experienced by those who'd survived the incident, or prevent Zhao Yujian's parents from kicking up a fuss.
Three. Three people had died, all on his watch. Did he do enough? What could he have done better?
Snippets of his dream earlier came into his mind. Suddenly, Li Yundong had to put a hand on the railing to keep himself grounded in reality while those vivid images barraged his mind.
For the first time in his life, Li Yundong began to wonder what moral causation really entailed. It seemed far-fetched to consider that the chain of events which led up to yesterday's tragedy was set off by something as innocuous as a woman's tendency to spoil her son, but it was nonetheless true. Wait, innocuous? Li Yundong shook his head in disgust. No. Whatever Mrs. Zhao's intent was when she spoiled Zhao Yujian rotten, it couldn't have been innocuous. Otherwise, it wouldn't have led to such devastating consequences.
What about his own life then? How did karma factor into his own life, or into the grand scheme of life, for that matter? What sort of action had gotten him to where he was today? What about its moral quality? Who was he to judge the moral quality of one's action? Wasn't moral quality a subjective matter? Then, an interesting thought occurred to him. While Zhao Yujian had been spoiled rotten all his life by his parents, Li Yundong's experience was the exact opposite — he didn't even have parents to spoil him. Li Yundong's parents had abandoned him and left him to fend for himself when he was just a boy. Could that be why Li Yundong survived yesterday's ordeal while Zhao Yujian perished, because their respective fates were meant to be polar opposites?
Shaking his head, Li Yundong chuckled and wondered when he became so philosophical. He'd never bothered with the laws of the Universe before, so why start now? He sighed, then stared out into the city, into the tangled web of actions and moral consequences. The wheel of karma was still turning, and here he was, a tiny cog in its complex mechanism.
Darkness and silence greeted Su Chan when she came out of her bedroom. She padded towards the living room, then drew the curtains apart with a loud swish. Darkness gave way to light, and the remnants of last night came into view — which mostly consisted of the red paper boxes from Mac Doo Nurls. The boxes had two mountain peaks (or was it an inverted 3?) printed in yellow. Clearly, it was a symbol of some kind. In Cultivation, a symbol always meant something. She wondered what this one meant. She should ask Yundong about it.
She glanced towards Yundong's bedroom. The door was still closed, and there were no sounds coming from the bathroom either. Usually, Yundong was up by now, either bustling around in the kitchen or practicing Qi control in the living room. Suddenly, she had a sinking feeling in her stomach. What if he left for school without her? She glanced around in a panic. Relief coursed through her when she found his backpack sitting on the couch. Maybe he was still asleep? I should wake him up for school... Su Chan grabbed Li Yundong's backpack from the couch and slid its straps over her shoulders, then marched towards his room. Excuses, excuses, excuses. She just wanted to see him. Outside his door, she suddenly stopped.
Perhaps he needed the rest? Dodging that gun thing and saving those two girls yesterday hadn't exactly drained all his strength, but she knew it wasn't a walk in the park either. Usually, a good night's sleep would help him recover his strength, but something told her that a good night's sleep wasn't what he'd gotten last night. Not after the traumatic experience he'd been through. Argh... why didn't she offer to give him a massage last night?
Right. Because he seemed to be in a bad mood and she didn't want to make things worse by saying something silly.
Su Chan sighed and walked back towards the living room, then plopped down on the couch. I'll just let him sleep for a while longer...
It was already late evening by the time they got home yesterday, which was completely ridiculous since the whole incident had ended sometime around mid-morning. The delay was caused by a bunch of idiots who downright refused to let them leave the school compound. Everyone involved in the incident was brought to a classroom, where they were kept until late afternoon when, finally, a bunch of uniformed men with strange-looking badges came in to "have a chat" with them. These obnoxious men ended up grilling Yundong for about an hour (ugh, sooo exhausting) or so, but they refused to let him go even after they were done asking their questions. They wanted to bring Yundong down to some weird "station," apparently to "ask further questions." Like, seriously! Couldn't they just ask all their questions at the classroom? What did it even matter where the questions were asked? And then they did the most appalling thing ever — they refused to allow her to accompany Yundong to this "station." Grrr! What right do they have to separate her from her beloved!
Su Chan was about this close to giving those obnoxious men a piece of her mind when Zhou Qin suddenly walked in and said a few words to those men. Much to her surprise, those men were more than willing to let Yundong go after that. They even apologized to Yundong for the delay!
Admittedly, Su Chan couldn't figure out how Zhou Qin had pulled it off. What sorcery was it? Some kind of persuasion spell? She didn't manage to find out because Zhou Qin left as quickly as she came.
Yundong didn't say a word to her after they got home except to ask what she felt like having for dinner. She gave him some kind of noncommital answer, so he picked up his phone and called someone. Ten minutes later, some guy knocked on their door and handed Yundong a bunch of Mac Doo Nurl boxes. She didn't complain. It was food.
After dinner, they both sat quietly in the living room. Yundong took the couch, staring into some kind of strange device, which was rectangular and could be folded into two halves. There was a bright display on the top half and a bunch of little buttons on the bottom half. Maybe it was a miniature TV? She couldn't really tell if it was a TV, but she thought it was close enough. Anyway, Yundong was staring at mini-TV, tapping on its little buttons, whereas she sat on the floor sneaking furtive glances at him. At first, she thought he was mad at her because she had done or said something stupid again. But after a while, she dismissed that idea. For one, she knew she hadn't really done anything silly. Like, she was bad, but not that bad. Over the weeks, she had learned the nuances of self-restraint, thank you very much. For instance, she could've punched one of those obnoxious men for keeping them but she didn't, which, trust her, took a lot of self-restraint. In fact, she thought she'd been rather helpful when Yundong dealt with Zhao Yujian's madness. She pretty much did everything he told her. Well, except for that teeny part where she sneaked to the front of the classroom instead of staying hidden under the table like he'd asked her to...
Then again, she figured that one didn't count. After all, he needed her help, whether he wanted to admit it or not. So, yeah, all she did yesterday was aid him, so there was no reason for him to be mad at her at all.
Even though she knew he wasn't mad at her, Su Chan still chose to play it safe. Instead of speaking to him, she studied Yundong's expression while he continued tinkering with the mini-TV. Eventually, she realized that Yundong's expression seemed contemplative. He was thinking hard about something, like he was trying to solve a puzzle. She was, of course, curious as to what was on his mind. But still, she decided to leave him to his thoughts instead of pestering him about it. See? Self-restraint! A while later, Yundong stood up from the couch and bade her good night (the second time he spoke to her since they got home, yay!). He went back to his room after that, taking the mini-TV with him. A few minutes after he did, Su Chan went to bed, hoping that he would be back to his usual cheery self after a night's sleep.
Yet, here she was, sitting alone in the quiet living room...
Su Chan released a heavy sigh and looked towards Yundong's bedroom from the couch. I wonder if he's okay...
Su Chan turned away and began fiddling with a piece of lint on her sleeve. As she did, warmth filled her chest and her lips curved into a smile. Yundong probably had no idea how proud of him she was. When they were chased out of their old home the other night, she had made a bold declaration that Yundong would one day become a great hero. His actions yesterday had proven her right, that he did have what it takes to be a hero. What surprised her the most, though, was the amount of selflessness he possessed. He had put his own well-being on the line, not once but twice, yesterday in order to save others. The way he had drawn Zhao Yujian's attention to himself while they were trapped inside the classroom was the first. The second time was when he caught Zhou Qin's body on the ground. Su Chan had warned him that his shoulder joints wouldn't be able to bear the load, yet he still did it without hesitation.
Then, there was also the matter of his genius, which was nothing short of amazing. Indeed, Su Chan had witnessed a genius Cultivator at work yesterday! Despite being severely undertrained and inexperienced, Yundong had proven himself to be a complete natural in the combat application of Cultivation techniques. All she did was gave him a simple tip, and he ended up using Xianjue like he'd been doing it for years! Well, she already knew he was a genius after he'd visualized nine lotus thrones in a row. But to see his genius in action was another thing altogether!
The fact that he could already use Xianjue meant that he'd passed the third dan of the Ningshen phase. A Cultivator who had reached this stage of training would usually—
Su Chan sprang to her feet with a loud gasp. Then, she smacked her forehead and sprinted towards Yundong's bedroom. Chan'er, you idiot!
Upon reaching his door, Su Chan pressed down on the door handle. The door was unlocked, just like she'd expected — Yundong never locked his door at night. Slowly, she crept inside, tamping down her bubbling excitement in her chest. His bed was unoccupied and unmade with the blanket lying on the floor. Su Chan looked towards the sliding door, and there he was, standing in front of the balcony's railing, staring out into the sky. She padded quickly towards the sliding door.
Yundong turned around in surprise when she opened the sliding door. "Morning, Su Chan," he said with a smile.
Su Chan flashed him a bright grin. "Morning!"
Then, he gave her a funny look. "Hey, why do have my backpack with you?"
Su Chan stepped onto the balcony and closed the remaining distance between them.
"I thought we should leave for school..." Su Chan said, tugging his arm.
Yundong laughed. "You want us to go to campus already? But it's only seven thirty!"
"Yundong, Yundong..." Su Chan shook his arm a few times.
"What is it, princess?"
"Have you... had a lot on your mind since we got home yesterday? I mean, have you been thinking about a lot of stuff?"
Yundong gave her yet another funny look. "You're joking right?" he said, then sighed. "Of course I'd have a lot on my mind. Someone brought a gun to campus and killed two people. It's not like I can stop thinking about it even if I wanted to."
"No, no, no..." Su Chan shook her head. "That's not what I mean... I'm referring to things that are more philosophical. Like, the Universe, or life. Maybe you've been wondering about your own life, and where you fit in?"
"Holy sh— How did you..."
Su Chan's heart filled with delight and triumph. So he had been thinking about these things! Yessss!!!!! Yayyyy!!!!
Ugh! She couldn't believe she hadn't realized this sooner! The answer was right there in front of her, for Tao's sake! The reason for Yundong's contemplative mood was because he'd already begun the next stage of his training! By the time a Cultivator passes the third dan of the Ningshen phase, they would have acquired superhuman skills like Mingmu, Eryue, and Xianjue. At this stage of training, a Cultivator would be amazed and fascinated by their newfound abilities. But what separates a lesser and a greater (in terms of aptitude) Cultivator is what they choose to do with that fascination. A lesser Cultivator will turn that fascination into hubris and arrogance, whereas the more talented Cultivator will turn it into curiosity. The lesser Cultivator will stop learning, thinking that they have already reached their full potential. They are unable to see past their fascination and grasp the idea that something bigger is at play, that their abilities fit into a larger picture. These Cultivators will forever be stuck in the Ningshen phase. A talented Cultivator, on the other hand, will start searching for answers, for ways to explain their abilities. They aren't satisfied with just having those abilities. They also want to know, to understand and comprehend the truths behind their powers. In fact, this is the exact requirement to complete the fourth dan of the Ningshen phase — to develop the curiosity and drive to seek answers.
"Hey, how did you know I've been having these thoughts?" Yundong eyed her skeptically. "Wait... Don't tell me I've been talking in my sleep?"
Su Chan giggled. "No, dummy," she said. "It's just you seemed so preoccupied last night..."
Suddenly, Yundong removed his arm from her grasp. Then, he took a step back as though he was distancing himself from her. What...?
He spoke before she could ask him what was wrong.
"Su Chan... I think we need to talk."
The hurt and confusion he saw on Su Chan's face nearly killed him, but Li Yundong knew that he had to do this. He had to get some answers before he went insane.
"Wh- what's wrong, Yundong? Did I do something wrong again?"
"No. It's not that," Li Yundong said, shaking his head. "I just need some answers, okay?"
Li Yundong kept his gaze on Su Chan, who was now staring down at her feet and fiddling with the straps of his backpack. Li Yundong felt his heart sink to the bottom of his stomach. She looked so guilty, which meant that she had something to hide. Just get on with it, man...
Li Yundong sighed.
"Ever since we met, there have been changes in me..." Li Yundong lifted his hands. "I became stronger, faster, and more agile. After that, you taught me how to move my Qi around, and suddenly, I can send a grown man into the air without even touching him. Then there's also all that stuff I did yesterday. Dodging bullets. Xianjue... What's happening to me, Su Chan?"
Silence permeated the balcony.
Su Chan kept staring at her feet with utmost fascination.
Seconds later, Li Yundong huffed out in frustration.
"Come on, Su Chan," he said, running a hand through his hair. "How stupid do you think I am? I know you have something to do with these changes! I just want you to be honest with me. Can't you do that?"
"I told you I'll tell you when the time is right..."
"Three people died, for God's sake! Don't you think it's about time you tell me what's happening to my body? How can I help others next time if I don't even understand what I'm capable of?"
"You did fine yesterday. You don't have to know everything for the time being—"
"It's a drug, isn't it?" Li Yundong hadn't meant for his words to sound so caustic, but it did. Su Chan's flinch was proof of that.
"You gave me something to make me stronger didn't you? Some kind of injection, or a pill— mmph!" The rest of his words were muffled by Su Chan's palm. F*ck. He didn't know she could move that fast.
Li Yundong stared down at her with wide eyes. She was glancing around the balcony anxiously, as though she thought they were being spied on. Then, all of a sudden, she pulled him back into his room and shut the sliding door.
"Hey, what was that abou—"
"Shh!" Su Chan said, staring into his eyes with frightening intensity. "Just wait."
After that, she dropped his backpack onto the bed and opened it. From inside the backpack, she pulled out a notepad and a pen.
Li Yundong walked towards the bed.
"What the hell is going on, Su Chan?"
Instead of answering, Su Chan sat down and wrote something down on the notepad.
When she was done, she showed him what she had written. Don't use words. Someone might hear us.
"What's that supposed to mean? There's nobody here other than—"
Li Yundong's eyes widened. Oh my God...
Li Yundong stared at Su Chan, who nodded at him gravely. She wrote something on the pad again. Eryue. Long-range hearing.
Li Yundong sat down on the bed, causing the pen to roll away. Seconds later, he turned to Su Chan and lowered his voice into a whisper. "You mean there are others like me out there?"
Su Chan nodded.
"In Tiannan City?" Li Yundong whispered.
Su Chan wrote something down and showed him. Very likely.
Li Yundong went silent in thought, then he took the pen from Su Chan and wrote down a line. You scared others hear us. My changes. Keep secret. Why?
Su Chan bit her lip and took the pen from him. Your life. In danger if people know.
Li Yundong felt his blood run cold.
"Is that the real reason you're so against me taking Kris and John as disciples?" he whispered. "You want me to keep a low profile?"
Su Chan nodded.
"But all the stuff I did!" Li Yundong hissed. "You don't think people would find dodging bullets suspicious? And what about that loud roar I did the other night?"
Su Chan wrote on the pad. That's why. Need to be cautious. Too much exposure already. Then, she pouted and wrote down something else. Yesterday. Should have let me help. No need dodge weapon.
Li Yundong shot her a glare. "So this drug—"
Su Chan pressed her finger against his lips. She placed the pen into his hand and gave him the pad.
My body - fast and strong - because something inside me?
Su Chan nodded.
Not telling what it is?
Su Chan took the pen. Please don't force. Can't say its name. Big risk. Danger.
"But you will at some point in the future?"
Su Chan nodded.
Li Yundong stared at Su Chan for a moment. Why future. What difference?
You stronger. Can protect self.
Was that why she taught him all those Qi-control techniques? Was that why she had forced him into the habit of performing Da Zhoutian and Xiao Zhoutian every day?
Li Yundong sighed. "What am I doing?"
"What do you mean?" Su Chan said in a small voice.
"I mean this" —Li Yundong gestured with his hands wildly—"thing that you've been teaching me. Does it have a name? At first I thought it was Qigong, but I think it's more than that."
Li Yundong's eyes widened a fraction. "Culti— Isn't that what those Toaist priests do? Shit. I thought Cultivation involves meditation so that people can become more zen! Or wait, is that Buddhism—"
Su Chan burst into giggles.
Li Yundong glared at her. "Oh, now you're laughing. Well, tell you what. It's your fault I'm so clueless. Because you won't tell me a thing."
Something in her voice made Li Yundong's heart skip a few beats. He looked up and stared into her eyes, which were filled with emotions and sincerity.
"Do you trust me?" she asked.
Li Yundong's breath caught in his throat.
"I- I do, but I just felt like I need to know stuff about myself..."
"If you trust me, then please stop asking. I swear I'm doing this for your own good. I have your best interest in mind." Su Chan suddenly met his gaze, her eyes flashing passionately. "Wait. Do you actually think I'm trying to harm you? That couldn't be further from the truth! The truth is that I couldn't even bear the thought of you getting hurt because I lo—"
The room fell silent, and she suddenly looked away.
Li Yundong frowned. "Um... you what?"
"A- a- anyway! I'll tell you when the time is right. I swear!"
Wait, was she blushing?
Ah, f*ck it...
"Fine, I won't ask anymore," Li Yundong said. "But what am I supposed to do now? I feel like I'm in the middle of some super conspiracy or something."
"Keep getting stronger."
Su Chan's firm tone made Li Yundong look back up at her.
"How am I supposed to do that?"
"Follow my guidance and do everything I say."
"And once I get stronger, you'll tell me?"
Su Chan nodded.
"Everything?” Li Yundong stared at her pointedly. “Including your past?"
Su Chan hesitated for a bit before she answered, "When the time is right, yes."
"Guess I should work harder then..."
The room fell silent again. Su Chan was staring at her lap, seemingly deep in thought. Starting the morning with a loaded conversation. Way to go, Li Yundong...
Then again, he knew the perfect solution to this little problem.
Su Chan's head snapped up almost instantly. "Famished!!"