Chapter 40 Do Not Underestimate a Youth in Penury
Li Yundong's threat caused a huge uproar among the crowd.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa... Calm down, young man. Calm down... okay? Don't do anything rash..." said someone from the crowd.
"You're a fraud, landlady," said another voice. "50 thousand yuan just to repair the kitchen? That's an obvious rip-off! It would cost only several thousands to make the kitchen as good as new. Even if you add in the cost to replace the damaged appliances, it wouldn't exceed 20 thousand!"
"Come on! How can you do this to the poor kid! He's just a student, for God's sake!"
"Yeah! How can you be so heartless?"
The landlady was scared shitless by Li Yundong's threat.
"H- hey, what do you think you're doing, eh?" she said, her voice trembling. "P-put me d- down! C- come on, now. Don't do this... W- we can talk things out, right?"
Li Yundong sneered.
"I suggest you think very carefully about what comes out of your mouth next," he growled. "How. Much."
The landlady did the math again, considering every damaged item this time. A minute later, she concluded that it would cost at least twenty thousand yuan to restore the apartment to its original state —including the light and TV. After careful consideration, the landlady wanted to slap herself for coming up with fifty thousand yuan earlier. It was doubtful that this penniless student could even come up with twenty thousand yuan let alone fifty thousand! And if the kid ended up killing himself out of desperation, she wouldn't get a single cent! She'd been such a huge fool!
"Twenty thousand! Nothing less!" the landlady gritted out.
Li Yundong thought for a moment, and eventually found the amount to be acceptable. Besides, he didn't want to make this a bigger problem than it already was. He should settle this now before the cops got involved.
"Fine!" Li Yunong put the landlady back to the floor. "Wait here! I'm going to make the withdrawal!"
Li Yundong walked back into the apartment and stopped in front of Su Chan who looked like she was on the verge of a panic attack.
Li Yundong pried her hands away from the hem of her shirt before she ruined it.
"Hey. Wait here for me, okay?" he said. "I'm going out for a bit."
Su Chan opened her mouth to say something.
No words came out.
In the end, she settled for: "B - be quick, okay?"
Li Yundong nodded and left the apartment with his bank card.
Su Chan's beauty stunned everyone in the crowd, especially the men, who kept sneaking glances into the apartment.
Those glances made Su Chan uncomfortable, so she went into the bedroom and closed the door.
Inside the bedroom, she started pacing about with her hands tightly clasped together. Regret gnawed at her insides until she felt a stinging sensation in her eyes. How did things turn out like this?
Su Chan stopped pacing and glanced around the bedroom.
Are we leaving this place behind? she thought.
This was the first place she'd stayed in since her arrival in the mortal world. She had developed a subconscious attachment not only to Li Yundong, but to this place as well.
The thought of leaving this place filled her heart with panic.
She spent a long while inside the bedroom, driving herself insane with her thoughts. But Li Yundong still hadn't returned. In the end, she opened the door and went into the living room to see if Li Yundong had returned.
The whispering began the moment Su Chan stepped out.
"Psst! Psst! Here she is! She's coming out! Tsk. Tsk. Look at that face. My God. So gorgeous."
"Man. You're absolutely right... So beautiful... No man would be able to resist her..."
"Wake up, you fools. Stay away from a femme fatale like her at all costs if you have any sense in you. Or else, you'll run into all kinds of trouble! Your life might even be ruined! A woman's beauty is the root of all trouble, haven't you folks heard of that?"
That came from a woman, who was clearly jealous of Su Chan's beauty.
"Yes, yes... You're absolutely right. She's too attractive. Ugh. I don't think I have the guts to be with her. Men would throw themselves at her... What if she cheats on me... My heart would be..."
Su Chan tuned out those whispers, but it was already too late. She'd already heard enough to be on tenterhooks. That woman's words echoed in her mind, making her skin crawl: Stay away... root of all trouble... ruin your life...
Su Chan started pacing again.
Oh, no... Oh no... I've really done it this time, haven't I? What if Li Yundong left me here... Has he grown tired of all the trouble I've caused? Oh, no... she thought, her entire face scrunched up in worry.
If there is one thing that most unattractive women in this world hated the most, it would be temptresses. Admittedly, part of that hatred is justified, like when a temptress tries to seduce a married man, for instance. Most of it, however, is born out of jealousy. Why are some women blessed with good looks while others look like a crone no matter how much makeup they use? The unlucky ones find the injustice abominable. Alas, even though Su Chan did nothing to seduce the landlady's husband, the landlady still hated Su Chan to the core: she hated Su Chan's youth; Su Chan's beauty; Su Chan's alluring figure; Su Chan's seductive air. She hated everything about Su Chan.
"Look at you, worrying yourself to death," the landlady said. "What's the point? If I were a man, I'd abandon you too! Just look at yourself. You're nothing but trouble."
"Not Li Yundong! He'd never do that!" Su Chan yelled, glaring at the landlady, her eyes swimming with unshed tears.
The landlady laughed. "Oh? You think so? Lemme tell'ya something then." The landlady smirked. "Even if he doesn't abandon you now, he will eventually! It's just a matter of time!" She laughed again, then looked at Su Chan with eyes filled with ridicule. "I really don't get you. If you want to seduce a man, at least seduce a rich one. Why seduce a penniless loser like Li Yundong? Tsk. Tsk. Looks like you're not just a troublemaker. You're a brainless bimbo as well. All the more reason for men to abandon you."
Su Chan trembled with anger. If she wasn't concerned about causing trouble to Li Yundong again, she would've destroyed this potbellied woman right then and there.
There wouldn't even be a corpse left when she was done.
Su Chan sniffed and wiped her tears away.
Calm down... For Yundong's sake... For Yundong's sake... she chanted inwardly.
A moment later, her chants took on a new form: Yundong will come back for me... Yundong will come back for me...
If Su Chan thought that her chants would reassure her, then she had another think coming. The more she chanted, the weaker her conviction became. Those whispers she'd heard earlier made even more sense now. She had no useful skills other than her Cultivation skills, which were all inapplicable to the mortal world. And look what happened when she tried to prepare a simple meal for Li Yundong?
At that moment, Su Chan's heart was like an hourglass, filling up with the sand of fear as time passed. Su Chan sat on the couch like a lost sheep, her fists clenched tightly as she endured the endless taunts by the landlady. Tears pattered against the back of her fists whenever those taunts hit too close to home. But every time her tears fell, Su Chan just sniffed and pulled herself together. She would not allow herself to fall apart in front of this obnoxious woman.
She would not.
Li Yundong returned in the nick of time to prevent Su Chan from having an emotional breakdown. He walked into the apartment carrying a red bag, which he waved in front of the landlady.
"I'm gonna get a pen and paper," he said. "After that we'll sign the agreement!"
With that, Li Yundong headed towards the bedroom for the pen and paper. Su Chan got up and went after him.
Su Chan threw herself at Li Yundong the moment they stepped through the bedroom door and sobbed into Li Yundong's chest.
Li Yundong was thrown into a panic. He pulled Su Chan's face away from his chest to look at her.
"Hey, hey, hey... What's the matter?" he said, wiping her tears. "What happened while I was gone?"
Su Chan swallowed the lump in her throat.
"They... they told me you were going to abandon me..."
Li Yundong's face darkened with rage.
"Those bastards..." he growled. "They can bully me all they want, but how dare they drag you into this! I'm going to have a few words with them!"
Li Yundong shifted Su Chan aside and stormed towards the door. Su Chan wrapped her arms around him from behind before he could reach for the door knob.
Li Yundong stopped, then turned around.
Su Chan was sniffing and wiping her tears.
"I can't do anything right," Su Chan said. "And I say a lot of stupid things as well. Every time I tried to help, I ended up making things worse and causing you trouble." Su Chan sobbed a few times, then raised her head.
When Li Yundong saw those eyes, it was as though someone had sliced his heart open with a katana.
"Will you grow tired of me?" she asked.
Li Yundong's gaze softened instantly. All the rage he'd felt earlier dissipated.
He reached out and gently wiped the tears away from Su Chan's face.
"I'm neither tall nor handsome. I'm not rich... And I wasn't born with a lot of talent as well... I won't be able to give you nice clothes or take you to fancy restaurants..." Li Yundong chuckled self-deprecatingly. "I might not even be able to buy a house in the future, let alone buy you a BMW, a Lamborghini, or all those things that you deserve." Li Yundong looked into Su Chan's eyes. "Will you grow tired of me?"
Su Chan shook her head without hesitation.
"No... It isn't like that. You're the nicest person in the world. Why would I grow tired of you?"
Li Yundong smiled, then pinched her nose. "Then I'll never ever grow tired of you either. You don't have to worry about this, okay?"
Su Chan held Li Yundong's gaze. She wasn't smiling yet, but an iota of joy shone through her tears.
"Promise?" she asked timidly.
Li Yundong patted Su Chan's head.
"I promise!" he said warmly. "Unless you yourself decide to leave me, I'll never let you go! Not even if the sky collapses!"
Li Yundong's words were like seeds. They dispersed from his lips, landing onto Su Chan's face. Then, when nourished by her tears, they blossomed into a smile, a smile that resembled a flower. She threw herself at Li Yundong and started sobbing again.
Li Yundong patted her back.
"Aww... What's wrong this time? Why are you crying?"
Su Chan shifted in his arms, rubbing herself against him.
"I don't know... I just feel like crying," she said.
Smiling, Li Yundong ran his palm down her back, stroking her spine.
"Alright now, stop crying, okay? I still have to deal with the agreement and stuff." He paused in thought, then said, "You should get started on the packing while I handle everything outside. After that, we're outta here."
Su Chan pulled away slightly. "Where are we going?"
Li Yundong grinned. "The world's such a big place. We can go anywhere! Why should we stay here and take crap from these people?"
Su Chan nodded forcefully. "Mm!!! I'll get started on the packing now!"
Li Yundong left the bedroom once he was sure that Su Chan had calmed down.
Knowing looks were cast upon Li Yundong the moment he stepped out of the bedroom: I bet those two took a nice tumble between the sheets just now...
F*cking morons... Li Yundong thought, ignoring the looks and headed towards the landlady.
"See for yourself," he said, tossing the agreement at the landlady. "Sign it if you agree. I'll leave after I pay you the money."
The landlady scanned through the agreement carefully.
"Very well!" she said, slapping her chubby thigh. "Give me a pen!"
Once everything was settled, Li Yundong put the agreement away, then gave the landlady the money. They packed up his belongings into a few suitcases, then left the apartment under the gazes of the crowd.
The landlady came up to Li Yundong while they were waiting for the elevator.
The nosey crowd had moved towards the elevator as well.
"Li Yundong, seeing as you've been my tenant for nearly a year, let me give you a piece of free advice," said the landlady. "Focus on your studies. Stop playing sugar daddy to beautiful women when you're still so young. Only rich people can afford that kind of lifestyle, not a half-broke student like you!"
A woman who had taken quite a liking to Li Yundong came to his defense: "Hey, Madam He. That's a little presumptuous of you, don't you think? How do you know that they aren't together because they genuinely love each other?"
Now that she had received Li Yundong's payment, the landlady no longer had anything to fear; she tore Li Yundong apart with her words.
"A penniless guy like him? Hah! What a joke! Look at him! He doesn't even look like he could provide for himself, let alone a woman. You wanna know what I think? I bet the chick's gonna leave him and run off with another man in a few days!"
Something inside Su Chan snapped. "Li Yundong is the nicest man in the world!!!" she yelled hysterically. "One day, he will become a hero! Just you wait! And I'll never ever leave him!"
For a moment, the echoes of Su Chan's voice was the only audible sound in the corridor. Seconds later, just as Su Chan had yelled hysterically, the crowd began to laugh hysterically.
"A hero, she said! HAHAHAHA! Oh, my tummy! Oh it hurts. HAHAHA!"
The landlady keeled over in laughter.
"A hero? What kind of stupid declaration is that? Hahaha!" She wiped a stray tear from the corner of her eyes. "Boy, oh boy, that's a good one! HAHAHAHA! What era is this, eh? Hero? HAHAHAHA! Hey, little girl. Just wait till you've seen the ones with the real deep pockets in the future. Then you'll realize just how stupid your statement is! Hahaha! What a joke!"
Su Chan balled her fists and allowed her tears to fall.
She released a feral growl and took a step forward. That's it! I'm going to end this fat woman's life!
Then, she felt a warm hand on her shoulder. She turned and saw Li Yundong's smile which was even warmer than the heat of his palm.
"Oh, you silly girl," Li Yundong said. "Why waste your energy on shallow people like them? Just ignore them, okay?"
Su Chan's tears pattered to the floor. "But I was just telling the truth! You really are the nicest man in the world! You're nice to me! No one's ever been nicer to me than you have..."
Li Yundong's smile widened.
"It's only right that I'm nice, isn't it? We should all be nice," Li Yundong said, his smile turning sad. "The world's gonna be a much better place if we are."
Something erupted inside Su Chan, filling her chest with waves of emotion. She released a strangled sob and unleashed all her emotions. Her delicate shoulders trembled as she released sob after sob. At that moment, Su Chan realized what a great man Li Yundong truly was. None of these blind fools could see it, and she was willing to bet another Renyuan Jindan that Li Yundong himself couldn't see it too.
She was going to rectify that now.
She raised her head suddenly and forced herself to stare at Li Yundong's face through the blurriness in her vision and the sting in her eyes.
"I have faith in you!" Su Chan said, placing her palm on her heart. "I believe you'll become a great man one day. A hero!" Su Chan patted her chest a few times. "I believe it in here!"
Li Yundong's smile was tender and warm.
"Okay. Then I will," he said. "If you want me to become a great hero, then I'll work hard and become one!"
At that moment, Su Chan made a vow to herself. She was going to turn Li Yundong into a great man and then make every single one of these arrogant snobs eat their words!
Su Chan raised her hand and dried her tears with her sleeve, then lowered her hand to take Li Yundong's hand. When her gaze swept past the crowd, everyone was stunned by the antithetical qualities of her eyes; those eyes seemed cold, yet they were blazing with flames of determination.
The elevator doors slid open.
"Yundong, let's go!"
Li Yundong was pulled forward by Su Chan. In front of the elevator, he stopped and turned around to face the crowd. Most of them had gloating looks on their faces. Several men were blatantly ogling Su Chan's backside. Then, Li Yundong's eyes landed on an old man. The old man held Li Yundong's gaze for several seconds, then gave him a subtle nod. Li Yundong knew what that nod meant — encouragement. Take these insults and fuel your determination. Stand up, young man! Go out there and prove these people wrong!
Li Yundong nodded in gratitude and stepped into the elevator.
Inside the elevator, Li Yundong gave the landlady a final glance.
Just you wait... I, Li Yundong, am going to show you all how great I am!
The elevator doors slid shut, and the corridor was once again filled with whispers.
Then, amidst the words of gossip, snide remarks, and lewd comments, emerged the gentle voice of an old man. Weak and feeble though it might be, that voice managed to quiet the whole crowd and fill everyone's mind with images of the young couple who had left in a dignified manner despite all their insults. Chills ran down everyone's spine at the old man's powerful words.
"Do not underestimate a youth in penury, for their drive is greater than that of anyone else."