Words can hurt. But sometimes, silence hurts even more.

"Yundong…"

That was the 17th time Su Chan had called his name without receiving a response. Or was it the 19th? She wasn't sure. She'd lost count some time during their car ride home.

Su Chan rose from the couch and padded over towards the sliding door, where Yundong stood with his back to her. He was staring out into the city, seemingly lost in thought.

"Yundong…" Su Chan tugged the hem of his shirt. "W- Why aren't you speaking to me?" You know why, Chan'er, she added silently.

He'd seen her powers now. He must think I'm a monster… Just like everyone else does… 

After what felt like hours, Yundong released a sigh. "Chan'er…" His eyes remained fixed on something beyond the balcony.

Su Chan's grip on the hem of his shirt tightened. "Y- Yes?"

"Tell me," he said, his voice flat and emotionless. "Tell me everything."

Su Chan froze. Everything? Including the fact that she was a fox spirit?

Su Chan let go of the hem of his shirt and took a step back.

She bit down on her lip and stared at the floor. Could she do it? Could she reveal everything to him now? Seconds later, she shook her head. He would probably hate her guts the moment he found out who (or what) she was. He would be revolted by the mere sight of her. He wouldn't want her around anymore.

Demons. Fiends. Foul creatures. Spawns of evil. The depraved. Evil spirits.

Those were just a few names associated with her kind.

For decades, fox spirits were regarded as the embodiment of everything that Cultivators hated, all thanks to the Mystical Silver Fox, whose actions had besmirched the good name of the Fox Zen School. There wasn't a single Cultivator alive today who didn't loathe the Fox Zen School and anyone associated with it.

Could Yundong really see past decades' worth of hatred and accept her for who she was? Could Yundong overcome the stigma surrounding her kind? What if the idea of having a fox spirit as a lover disgusted him so much that he got rid of her for good?

And if she was no longer around…

Who else would be there to watch over his training and help him pass the Zhuji phase?

Who else would be there to watch his back and protect him from those hunting for the Renyuan Jindan?

And speaking of the Renyuan Jindan…

Yesterday, Yundong had already agreed to let her tell him about the Jindan in her own time. But it seemed like today's incident had triggered his need for answers again.

Oh Tao… What was she supposed to do now? Well, she supposed she could just tell him about the Jindan but leave out the bit about her being a fox spirit? But what if Yundong accidentally let slip that he had consumed the Jindan…

Just thinking about that made Su Chan sick to her stomach.

Those Cultivators would never let him live. They would absorb the Jindan and then destroy his body until there was nothing left of him. Oh God… Before Yundong reached the Shentong—or at least the Zhuji—phase, he didn't stand a chance. Su Chan raised her head and stared at Yundong's back. At the end of the day, it all boiled down to one thing: could she trust Yundong to be discreet?

"Yundong… Hehe…" Su Chan said, injecting a faux cheeriness into her tone. "You've probably passed the 4th dan of the Ningshen phase by now. And if you work hard, it shouldn't be long before you complete the Zhuji phase as well… so… maybe until then…"

Yundong turned away from the sliding door until he was facing her.

"And how much longer would that take? Months?" He snorted. "Years?"

Su Chan shuffled forward a step, then reached out to take his hand. When he flinched away from her touch, it felt as though someone had stabbed a knife through her heart. Su Chan swallowed. The lump in her throat was now impossible to ignore. She cleared her throat. "I told you yesterday, didn't I? I'll tell you everything when the time is right…"

Yundong huffed and stormed past her. "Why? So I can keep walking around like an ignorant fool?"

No! So you don't accidentally give yourself away and end up dead!

Su Chan followed him into the living room. "I told you it's for your own safety—"

Yundong turned around abruptly, his eyes flashing in anger. "Seriously, princess? Safety? After everything that happened just now, you're here talking to me about safety?"

"But that's different! That was just Lin Youfa looking to regain the honor of his school after you defeated his disciple. That's not the kind of safety I was referring—"

"Oh, you have got to be shitting me." Yundong threw his hands in the air and plopped down on the couch. He sat there with his elbows resting on his thighs and his face buried in his palms.

Su Chan walked over to the couch and kneeled down in front of him.

"Yundong… These people are dangerous. They have ways to—"

"Oh, come on! Don't you get it yet?!" Yundong growled into his palms.

"Get what? I think you're the one who doesn’t understand how serious this is!"

Yundong's head suddenly shot up.

"The game is up, princess!"  

The sharpness in Yundong's tone drew a gasp out of her. She stared into Yundong's eyes. The anger in them had been replaced with a pleading look.

"This whole charade is over," Yundong said. "It won't work anymore. It's not going to fool anybody. Not after what happened today."

Yundong broke their eye contact and rubbed a hand across his face. Weariness settled into his countenance. He sighed. "Whether we like it or not, our cover is blown."

Su Chan shifted around until she was sitting cross-legged on the floor.

"C'mon princess. Limos spinning in the air? Some dude generating shockwaves with a punch?" Yundong snorted. "Before we know it, we're on f*cking national TV."

Su Chan sniffed and swiped away a stray tear. This was all her fault. Yundong got into danger because of her. He'd been so nice to her, and yet all she brought him was trouble.

Su Chan sniffed again. "W- Would we really end up inside the talking box?"

Seconds passed in silence.  And then Yundong laughed. A genuine and full-blown laugh. What a beautiful sound. And Su Chan had never felt more relieved in her entire life.

Su Chan sniffed again. "W- What?"

Her cheeks were so warm that her tears would probably just evaporate from its surface.

Yundong stopped laughing right then and lifted her chin up. "I don't know, but I think it's likely."

Su Chan turned her head left and stared at the TV for a moment. "B- But… How do we get in there?" She pointed at the TV. "There aren't any doors."

"Pfft… Hahaha."

Su Chan lowered her hand and stared down at her lap.

Yundong cleared his throat. "Well, that's not how it works. I'll explain it to you next time."

The fact that there would be a next time eased a tight knot inside Su Chan's chest.

"Look, the point is…" Yundong said. "There's a good chance that everyone in the city—hell, everyone in the country—will know about today's incident within the next few days."

Su Chan fiddled with her sleeve. "Does… Does everyone have one of those boxes in their homes?"

"Yeah. That's pretty much true nowadays." Yundong sighed. "God. I can even imagine the front page title already. The Hero of Tiannan University fights Shapeshifting Old Man. And those nosy students might even be posting about it on Weibo already… Sooner or later, everyone's gonna know, including the people who are after us."

Another stretch of silence passed.

"Lin Youfa could be one of them," Yundong said moments later.

Su Chan's gaze snapped up. "What?"

Yundong sighed and shook his head. "He kept insisting that there's something special about me."

Fear speared through Su Chan's chest, taking away her ability to breath. Oh no…

"A- And what did you tell him?"

"I denied it, of course," Yundong said with a snort. "Told him I'm just a university student."

Su Chan sighed in relief.

Yundong looked into her eyes. "He didn't believe me though. Crazy bastard kept twisting my wrist around trying to force me to tell him."

Su Chan regarded Yundong carefully. So he didn't yield under pressure. Maybe he can keep secrets after all…

"Did he…?" Su Chan cleared her throat. Damn, she really needed a glass of water. "Did he give you any indication that… that he knows?"

Yundong considered her question for a moment, then held her gaze again.

"No. He kept saying that he thinks there's something special about me, just that he didn't know what it is. He thinks it has something to do with the way I train."

So the possibility that Yundong had consumed the Renyuan Jindan never occurred to Lin Youfa? That was a little odd. But admittedly, it was also a huge relief to hear. Su Chan hadn't thought Lin Youfa was one of the people hunting for the Renyuan Jindan. What Yundong had told her just confirmed her suspicions.

"Chan'er…"

Su Chan shook herself out of her reverie. Only Master called her Chan'er. But she had to admit that she liked it better when Yundong called her that. The previous time when he called her Chan'er, they were…

She hoped she hadn't started bleeding from her cheeks. And was it a little hot in here?

"I know I've promised to stop pushing you for answers. And I know you're just trying to protect me. You want me to become stronger first, I get all that," Yundong said. "But don't you think it would be better for me to know exactly what I'm capable of so I don't end up doing things that would risk exposure?"

Su Chan froze. She'd never thought of it that way.

Yundong shook his head. "And not just what I'm capable of. I also need to know what you are capable of. Earlier, I removed you from the fight because—"

"You mean you tossed me," Su Chan snapped. "You tossed me away. Literally."

Yundong sighed. "I know. I'm sorry. But that's exactly the point. I didn't know what you're capable of. I didn't know you could do all that"—Yundong did a couple of weird gestures with his hand—"badass Cultivation stuff or whatever you call it. I was just trying to keep you safe. That guy was so dangerous and I didn't know if I could beat him. I panicked! And…" Yundong lowered his head. "I guess I wasn't sure if I could protect you." Yundong lifted his head and gazed right into her eyes. "I don't know what I'd do if I lose you, Chan'er. I… I can't live without you."

Tears stung Su Chan's eyes as warmth flourished inside her chest.  However, that mushy feeling was short-lived as fear and disappointment soon crept in. Will you still say that once you find out that I'm a fox spirit? That I'm a demon? Su Chan decided that she didn't even want to go there. It hurt too much.

Yundong took a breath. "And of course, there's also the fact that our cover is blown. I need to be ready. I need to know who or what I'm up against. Otherwise I'll just end up having my ass kicked like today…"

Su Chan sighed. He's right... I've been so blind.

"Chan'er…" Yundong cupped her cheeks. "I think it's time you tell me."

Su Chan nodded.

"Okay."

***

They sat on the floor across from each other. Two pads and pens lay on the coffee table between them.

Su Chan broke the silence first. "Um… How much do you know?" she asked, pulling one of the pads towards her.

Yundong took a pen and started fiddling with it. After a moment, he stopped fiddling and sighed.

"I didn't use to belief in magic and all that woo-woo stuff… But now…" Yundong shook his head. "Now I think I do. I mean, after everything I've seen and experienced… It's just…"

Oh, Yundong… You've barely scratched the surface…

Yundong uncapped his pen and opened his pad to a blank page. He stared at her for a few seconds without writing anything down. Su Chan felt like squirming under his intense scrutiny. What was he going to ask first? Her past? Had he already begun to suspect that she was a demon? Moments later, Yundong scribbled down a few words and showed her the pad: Fly for me.

"What?"

He wrote something down again: Fly. I want to see you fly. Like… Like what you did earlier.

Oh. That.

Learning how to fly was the requirement to pass the fourth dan of the Shentong (fifth) phase of Cultivation.

Yundong scribbled: Please? I just need to see it for myself.

"O- Okay…" Su Chan stood up, then backed away a few steps from the coffee table. Their gazes locked, and Yundong gave her a nod. Su Chan closed her eyes and took a deep breath. A moment later, her feet left the floor.

"Holy f*cking shit…"

Su Chan's eyes shot open and her feet dropped back to the floor with a thud.

Yundong's hands were now gripping his hair. "Son of a f*ck!"

Defensiveness crept in. "Just because we have abilities doesn't mean that we're evil or that we're monsters—"

Yundong released his hair and shook his head, his eyes widening in alarm. "No, no… That's not what I meant… I was just surprised that's all. I didn't mean to imply that. I'm sorry."

"Oh."

Yundong sighed and waved her over.

Su Chan walked back towards the coffee table and sat down.

"Listen, I really didn't mean anything by my reaction. I was just surprised." Yundong shook his head, then held her gaze again. "I meant what I told you at the restaurant."

Well, he'd told her a lot of things at the restaurant. He might need to be more specific.

"A lot of things in this world aren't inherently bad. They are just tools. Their value depends on their user," Yundong said, looking straight at her. "I won't think of you as an evil monster just for having special abilities. Like money, it all depends on how you use them."

Su Chan suppressed an eye roll. Tell that to the rest of the Cultivation world who wanted nothing more than to wipe out fox spirits from the face of the earth.

Yundong chuckled. "Damn. Now I'm positive that we'll be on TV tomorrow. There were so many people watching the fight just now and you just…" Yundong paused and drew an arc in the air connecting one spot on the table to another. "Like, right in front of everyone."

Su Chan uncapped her pen and wrote: Made it look like jump.

"Right, I'm sure that's enough to convince everyone," Yundong deadpanned.

Was he being sarcastic? Yep. He was. The teasing glint in his eyes said so.

Su Chan's cheeks grew warm. "What? It really did look like a jump." Mortals could jump pretty high too, couldn't they? Or do those stunts she saw on TV not count?

Yundong chuckled. "If that's what you call jumping, then you just broke the Olympic record for high jump."

What?

"Old limp pig? But how could a pig jump if it was already limping?"

"No. It's Olym—" Yundong dissolved into laughter.

 Had her cheeks combusted? Su Chan looked down and stared at a spot on the table top. "If… If it doesn't work, then y- you could just… tell them that… that there are springs in my shoes?"

Yundong laughed even harder. "Springs in your—" He started slapping his thighs. "My God you really are a national treasure…"

Well. At least he was laughing.

Yundong recovered himself a while later and took his pad again: This drug I took. Magical?

Su Chan nodded, then wrote something down on her own pad: Magical pill. Renyuan Jindan.

"What does it do? How does it work?" Yundong whispered.

Ugh. Where to even begin?

Su Chan pondered his question for a moment. In the end, she decided to go with the shorter version. She wrote: Long story short? Reformed your body. Make your body stronger.

She didn't want to bore him with details. Besides, a lot of the Cultivation stuff would sound foreign to him.

Yundong suddenly reached up to touch his face, then wrote: That's why I not fat?

Su Chan stared at him for a moment. Hmm… Technically, he lost body fat after his meridians were forcibly activated when he went into Zouhuo Rumo state. But the effects wouldn't be this pronounced without the Jindan…

Su Chan scribbled: It did play a role. There was a process.

There was a contemplative look on Yundong's face. Moments later, his eyes widened. "Holy shit…"

"What?" Su Chan shot him a questioning look.

Yundong grabbed his pen: Three days. I slept for three days.

Su Chan bobbed her head up and down.

"Are you tired?" Yundong said. "Um… Because I… I have a lot of questions. Oh, wait." A worried look flitted across his face. "Were you hurt during the fight?"

Not exactly. Except maybe for her pride, since he, you know, tossed her away and everything. It would probably take her a while to get over that.

Su Chan shook her head. "What about you?"

Yundong grinned. "I was. But then my best girl fixed me."

Butterflies fluttered in her stomach.

Yundong began scribbling again: Run me through?

 "The process?"

Yundong nodded.

Su Chan grabbed her pad: Renyuan Jindan's function = enhance whatever that is already there.

Su Chan stared at Yundong for a moment to make sure he was following. Then she wrote again: Everything enhanced. Bones. Muscles. Qi. Everything.

Yundong paused in thought, then wrote: Punch machine. Punch guys into air. Climb up walls. All that.

Su Chan nodded, picking up her pen again: Stronger. Faster. More agile. Faster reaction time. Better reflexes. Improved senses.

Yundong stilled her hand. She looked up from her pad.

Yundong wrote something down on his own pad: Jindan improved senses?

Su Chan nodded: Hearing + eyesight.

Yundong had a contemplative look: Makes sense. Eyes. Ears. All made up of cells. Cells enhanced = Organs enhanced.

Su Chan wrote something down: Not only that. Biggest reason = blood enhanced. Better nourishment for cells.

"What else?"

Su Chan flipped to a blank page: Super endurance. Super stamina. Resistant to extreme weather. You'll never get sick.

"Wow…"

Yes. Wow. That was why the Renyuan Jindan was sought after by so many Cultivators.

Yundong wrote something down again: Renyuan. Come from where? How made?

Su Chan wrote: Made by Wan Zhenyuan, Head of Gezao Sect. Dunno how made. Need special magical object I think. Not sure details.

Yundong's intense gaze made her stop writing.

"Wh- what?"

He wrote something down: Gezao Sect = where you from? Wan Zhenyuan your master?

It took everything in Su Chan's power not to panic. She shook her head and exhaled shakily. "My Master is a woman, remember?" At least her voice hadn't wavered when she said that.

"Right," Yundong said, then paused for a moment. He smiled. "Still don't believe she's prettier than you though."

Su Chan couldn't find it in herself to smile back. Please don't ask about my origins. Please, please, please…

Yundong's hand moved across the pad: Which sect you from?

Su Chan's heart sank. Should she mention the Fox Zen School? What were the odds that he was able to make the connection between fox spirits and the Fox Zen School? Don't be stupid, Chan'er. Of course he would be able to make the connection.

No. Telling him that she was a fox spirit would definitely be a bad idea, at least for now. If he kicked her out because he was disgusted by who she was, then he wouldn't have anybody to guide him through the Zhuji phase.

Once he passed the Zhuji phase, her presence in his life wouldn't matter anymore—he would be strong enough to defend himself with or without her by his side. She would reveal her true identity then and let him decide whether he still wanted her in his life. If he couldn't accept having a fox spirit as his lover after she told him, she would leave.

"Su Chan?" Yundong nudged her.

"Hmm?"

Yundong wave the pad in front of her face. Which sect you from? A simple four-word question, yet impossibly difficult to answer.

Su Chan's hand shook a little when she wrote: Zen School…

"Oh…"

Su Chan wrote again: It's a small school. Not much influence.

That part wasn't a lie. Even before it was ostracized, before it became an object of hatred, the Fox Zen School was just a small organization. Small though it might be, its reputation used to be stellar. That was until the Mystical Silver Fox took over as the fourth Head of the Fox Zen School. She was an extremist, a radical, albeit a very powerful one; she had attained the full nine-tailed fox form, the highest physical form attainable by any fox spirit. Her extremism and radicalism, however, had led to the Fox Zen School's downfall. Her policies and actions had incited the hatred of every Cultivation Sect and School in existence.

Yundong waved the pad in front of her face again: How did you end up with the Renyuan Jindan?

"I… I stole it," Su Chan whispered.

Yundong laughed incredulously. "Just like that? If it's such a big deal, then why wasn't it locked up in a vault? Or be placed in a dungeon that is guarded by twenty dragons?"

Su Chan giggled. Well. I've had help…   

Su Chan waved her hand and then wrote something down: Doesn't matter. I stole.

Yundong raised a brow. "Now here's another question."

He reached for his pad without taking her eyes off her: Why give to me?

Su Chan blushed. "It… It was an accident…"

"An acci—" Yundong gaped at her for a moment.

He shook his head and wrote something down: You meet me how?

"Um… How much…" Su Chan looked up at him from under her lashes. "How much do you remember?"

Yundong stared up at the ceiling for a moment. Then he chuckled. "I remember getting my ass drunk at some street side stall after I got rejected by Zhou Qin. I don't even remember walking home… But I do remember getting into the…?" Yundong suddenly looked at her and gestured with his hand.

"Oh, the metal box—" Su Chan's mouth snapped shut when she noticed Yundong's raised brows. She blushed. "The Ail… vator?"

Yundong laughed and ruffled her head. "No, silly. The elevator."

"Oh."

Yundong frowned. "Everything's still a blur. It's strange, to be honest… I don't remember walking home… But I remember stumbling out of the elevator? Then I think I dropped my keys? And there was some kind of animal lying on my doorstep… "

Su Chan froze. Oh, no… he knows… He knows!

"A dog, I think? Yeah, it was a dog. An injured dog. I think I picked it up."

"A- And then?"

"And then that's it. Don't remember anything else after that. I don't even remember getting into the apartment."

Su Chan sighed inwardly. Okay… so he doesn't know…

"Well? How did we meet? Did any of the stuff I described actually happen? Or was that the alcohol messing with me head?" Yundong was now looking at her pointedly.

"Um… I'm not so sure about the dog…"

Because it's me you picked up. Me in my fox form, not a dog. Not that she could tell him that.

"Just start from the beginning," Yundong said.

Su Chan picked up her pad and started writing: Stole Jindan. Ran for days. Came to city. People hunt me. Went into your building to hide.

Su Chan hesitated for a moment.

This was the part where she had to lie: You unconscious outside your door. I walked over. Saw keys on floor. Picked it up. Used it to open your door. Dragged you inside.

Yundong frowned slightly: After that you fed me the pill?

Su Chan shook her head and kept writing: People hunting me. Skilled trackers. Tracked Jindan's aura to your building. Appeared on balcony.

Yundong's eyes widened slightly. "What? How many of them?"

Su Chan nodded and held up two fingers. She wrote again: Both from Zhengyi Taoist School. You spoke to one of them yesterday.

"You mean that crazy girl who…"

Su Chan nodded grimly.

"So that's why you shut yourself inside your room."

"Yes…"

"I thought you were mad at me…" Yundong shook his head, then gestured at her pad.

Su Chan picked it up and wrote: When they appeared on balcony. I panicked. Hid the Jindan in your mouth. Use your Adolescent Yang Qi to mask its aura.

Yundong stared at her for several moments, then frowned. "That makes no sense…"

Su Chan shot him a questioning look.

Yundong flipped to a new page: Those two. Why they didn't just come in and take Jindan by force? They outside balcony = already know Jindan inside my apartment. Even if you masked aura, why they didn't come in to check.

Su Chan wrote: Zhengyi School has strict rule. Not allowed to interfere with lives of normal people. If they use force, they would have to use magic.

Yundong nodded pensively, then wrote: Let me guess. I swallowed it by accident?

Su Chan nodded.

Yundong chuckled. "So it was dumb luck after all…"

After a moment, Yundong wrote: Possible to remove it?

Su Chan wrote: Jindan became part of you once your body absorbed it.

Su Chan hesitated. Should she tell him about Yang feeding? Would that scare him away?

In the end, Su Chan decided to go with: But yes. There is a way to extract its power from your body.

Yundong didn't say or write anything, but the intensity of his gaze took her breath away.

"Wh- What?"

Yundong kept staring at her. The silence was excruciating. Moments later, Yundong shook his head and said, "It's nothing."

"And that's pretty much everything…" Su Chan said. She cleared her throat and quashed the twinge of guilt in her heart. "Um… Do you have any more questions?"

Yundong raised his gaze. "Shenxians… Tell me more about Shenxians."

Su Chan sighed. "Well… Once a person unites with the Tao and attains spiritual transcendence, they become a Shenxian. Basically, a Shenxian is the transcended version of a human being. Once you become a Shenxian, you would have unlocked the full potential of your existence."

"They won't age or die, right?"

Su Chan nodded. "Most of them possess magical powers and can alter their physical form according to their will. The specific magical powers vary from Shenxian to Shenxian, of course. But in general, they're immortal beings."

"Unite with the Tao…" Yundong sat up straighter, his eyes sparkling with interest.

"Mm-hmm!"

Yundong chuckled. "How do people even know this stuff in the first place?"

Good question…

"Do you know Ge Hong?"

"Err… He was an alchemist, right? Oh! And a healer!"

Su Chan nodded. "And also a Shenxian."

Yundong seemed surprised. "Ge Hong is a Shenxian? Wow. I've never heard of that."

"He also wrote a book called Baopuzi. Have you read it before?"

Yundong snorted. "Please. I could barely get through the first page of my history textbook without falling asleep."

"Well, in Baopuzi, Ge Hong wrote extensively on the subject of Shenxians and how to become one."

"Have you read it?"

"Mm-hmm! It's a must-read for any Cultivator!"

"Which school or sect does Ge Hong belong to?"

"Oh… The Danding Sect. It is founded by the infamous Zuo Ci."

"Wait a minute… the Zuo Ci? As in the Zuo Ci from the Three Kingdoms?"

"Yep… Why is that so surprising?"

Yundong scratched his head. "It's nothing. It's just… I've always been a fan of the Three Kingdoms. I've read the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, watched all the TV shows and all that. There was a passage in the Records of the Three Kingdoms stating that Zuo Ci became a Shenxian… But I thought that was just a myth."

Su Chan smiled. "No. It's not just a myth. Zuo Ci founded the Danding Sect, then passed on his knowledge to Ge Xuan, who then passed it on to Ge Hong. After that, Ge Hong wrote Baopuzi. That book was a hit after it was published. The Danding Sect became a household name in the Cultivation world due to Ge Hong's work."

"And what about you? Are you…" Yundong hesitated for a moment.

Then he picked up his pad: Are you a Shenxian? You can fly. And you have powers.

Su Chan shook her head. "Nope! I'm just a wandering Cultivator."

"Do you want to become one?"

"Of course! Becoming a Shenxian is the ultimate goal of Cultivation."

Yundong scribbled on the pad again: Is that why you stole Jindan?

Not exactly. She stole the Jindan so that she could transform from a three-tailed fox spirit to a six-tailed fox spirit. But, of course, she couldn't tell him that just yet.

Su Chan shook her head.

Yundong wrote: Why steal it?

Su Chan picked her words carefully. "To become stronger…"

Technically, that wasn't a lie. It just wasn't the whole truth. There it was again, that intense look in Yundong's eyes, like they were trying to suck the truth out of her.

Yundong raised the pad again: Why didn't you take it back?

Su Chan stared at those words.

Yundong lowered the pad and started writing again: You said there's a way to extract its power from my body. You risked life to steal = must be important to you.

Su Chan stared down at her lap. "That… That was my plan at first. To take it back…"

The pad hit the table with a smack; the pen rolled to the floor.

Su Chan raised her gaze and saw the hurt look on Yundong's face.

He released a sad chuckle. "I knew it. I knew there has to be a special reason for a pretty girl like you to stick around a loser like me."

Su Chan couldn't take it anymore. She leaped over the table and threw herself at him. Yundong fell back with a loud "oof."

Su Chan straddled his hips, shaking her head desperately. "It's not like that anymore! I changed my mind! Please believe me? Please?"

Darks spots formed on Yundong's shirt as her tears slid past her jawline.

Yundong wrapped his arms around her waist and sat up. "What changed?"

Su Chan sniffed and dried her tears. Yundong picked up his pen from the floor and handed the pad to her.

She took it and wrote: I want you to have the Jindan. I've decided to help you become a great Cultivator.

Yundong frowned. "But why? It's clearly important to you."

Su Chan tossed the pen and pad aside and cupped Yundong's cheeks with her hands.

"But you're more important to me," she whispered.

Yundong stared at her. "Y- You mean that?"

Su Chan nodded and let her hands drop to his chest. Yundong's heartbeat drummed beneath her palm, emboldening her for what she was about to say.

"Yes… I- I care about you. A lot. And I…" Su Chan peered up at him through her lashes. "I love you."

Yundong stroke her cheek. "F- For real? Not because of that… thing?"

Su Chan nodded. She wondered if Yundong could feel the heat on her cheek.

A slow smile formed on Yundong's face, and Su Chan knew then that everything would be okay. At least for now.

Yundong's breath tickled her face as he leaned in. She didn't try to stop him this time; she wanted it too.

KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!

They sprang apart.

Su Chan instantly went on high alert—Qi to Shenting and hands reaching for her needles.

"Damn it! Who the hell is it this time," Yundong growled.

Su Chan grabbed Yundong's arm before he could reach for the door. Several more knocks sounded. Yundong shot her a questioning look.

"Could it be Lin Youfa?" Su Chan whispered.

Yundong stood up straighter. "Only one way to find out," he said.

They both glanced towards the door.

KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!