"Beloved!" Chan'er's singsong voice drifted into the kitchen, where Li Yundong was drying the last of the dishes . "Your phone box just vibrated a little!"
Li Yundong bit back a smile . "Alright! I'll be right out!" he yelled, hanging the dish towel near the sink .
They had finished dinner fifteen minutes ago and he was now cleaning up the kitchen . After learning of Liuhe's disappearance, Li Yundong had decided that he had had enough of all the negativity, so he had offered to take Chan'er out for some fun . Chan'er was still in the doldrums when he made the offer, but she agreed nonetheless—though he suspected that she'd done that to ease his worry .
Regardless, they ended up spending the whole afternoon at the amusement park . The trip was okay, he supposed . Chan'er did have fun on the roller coaster and the Space Shuttle rides . But then something was still missing . Chan'er's cheeriness, her larger-than-life attitude, was gone . She no longer swatted at balloons within reach, or pointed at random food stalls .
She was subdued .
The most painful part was that she had tried to hide her sadness from him: smiling whenever their eyes met; cheering whenever he drew her attention to something he thought she might find interesting, but then staying completely silent any other time .
When it got too painful to watch, Li Yundong took her hand and led her out of the amusement park . After that, they took a cab back to New Hongsheng District, but stopped by a grocery store to buy ingredients for dinner .
Chan'er had cheered up a little after dinner, thank Acalanatha for that . Although he suspected that the Beer Duck Stew he'd made for dinner might have played a role in her improved mood…
Still, this was good progress .
So . What's next on the menu? McDonalds? Fried dumplings? He'd buy her anything if it meant cheering her up .
With one last glance at the sink, Li Yundong padded out of the kitchen and made a beeline towards the living room . The TV was on, and Chan'er was watching soap operas with her feet propped up on the coffee table .
He stopped behind the couch and patted Chan'er's head . "Having fun?"
Chan'er bobbed her head without taking her eyes off the TV screen . "Mm-hmm!"
Li Yundong's heart warmed .
He spotted his phone on the coffee table and launched his Zhenqi at it . It took the device three seconds to float from the table to his hand .
It was a text from Zi Yuan:
Meet up tomorrow . Still being watched, but can find a way to get to your apartment undetected . Hongling will be joining . What time suits?
Li Yundong stared at the screen for a moment . Chan'er giggled at something on the TV .
He typed out a reply:
Come around noon . Will cook lunch .
Chan'er giggled again, which made him smile . Then, Chan'er squeaked when Li Yundong leaped over the back of the couch and landed beside her .
"Whatcha watching, hmm?" Li Yundong tickled Chan'er's waist .
"Kyaa!" Chan'er twisted away from his hands . "Soap shows! Soap shows!"
Li Yundong smiled . "You never get tired of those shows, do you?"
Chan'er bobbed her head . "I kinda missed it . " A yearning look spread across her face . "I mean, when we were…"
Li Yundong ruffled her head . "I know . "
His phone buzzed again . He unlocked the screen and pulled up another text from Zi Yuan:
Should we bring anything?
Li Yundong smiled and typed out a quick reply:
Yes . Your appetites .
The phone floated back towards the coffee table . "Chan'er . "
"Zi Yuan and Ruan Hongling will be coming over for lunch tomorrow . "
Chan'er turned away from the TV screen . "Oh . "
Li Yundong smiled . "Do you want to try Zi Yuan's cooking?"
Chan'er's eyes sparkled a little . "Can I?"
Li Yundong pinched her cheek . "I'm sure she won't mind whipping up a dish or two . " Li Yundong let go of Chan'er's cheek . "But it's up to her though . "
The light in Chan'er's eyes dimmed a little . "Um… will we…" She stole a glance at Li Yundong . "Will we be discussing Master's rescue?"
"Yeah . " Li Yundong sighed . "We definitely need to come up with a good, solid plan . " Li Yundong held Chan'er's gaze . "We can't afford any mistakes . " He shook his head . "Yan Fang is too cunning . Too devious . "
Chan'er looked down and fiddled with her sleeve .
"But something tells me that Yan Fang won't harm your master just yet . "
Chan'er's gaze snapped up . Li Yundong could hear the gears turning in her pretty little head . "Bahuang…"
Li Yundong nodded . "When I was fighting the Great Six's army, Zi Yuan sent Ruan Hongling to look for you and your master's sword . " Li Yundong leaned towards Chan'er . "But here's the thing . Ruan Hongling couldn't find the sword . " Li Yundong paused for a few seconds . "So either Yan Fang already has it, or…"
Chan'er's eyes gleamed . "Or Master had hidden Bahuang somewhere . "
Li Yundong smiled . "Yeah . "
Understanding and relief flooded Chan'er's eyes . "I see…" She sagged against the back of the couch . "Heavens, you're right, Yundong… Yan Fang kept screaming at Master to give her the sword… So Master… She knew…" Chan'er shot him a hopeful glance . "She suspected…"
Li Yundong smiled pulled her into his arms . "Your master is a clever woman, Chan'er . I think she managed to figure out that the sword was what Yan Fang was after . I don't know how, but she must've hidden Bahuang after she got ambushed so that Yan Fang had no access to it . "
"So that Yan Fang would have a reason to keep her alive," Chan'er whispered .
Li Yundong nodded . "I think that was her plan . " Li Yundong chuckled . "And it worked . "
Chan'er buried her face against his chest . "Oh, thank Heavens . "
Li Yundong planted a kiss on her hair . "She's going to be alright . Have more faith in your master, okay? She's strong . "
Chan'er nodded . "Mmm!"
They stayed like that for a while, seeking comfort in each other's presence . Suddenly, Chan'er pulled away .
Li Yundong smiled . "Yes?"
"Do you think there's some kind of special reason why Yan Fang wanted Bahuang?" Chan'er was frowning . "She's got so many magical objects already . Mo-shībó's hairpin . That strange box she used to trap Master…" Chan'er stared at him for a moment . "Do you think she's some kind of collector?"
Well, technically, the hairpin was now in the hands of that Zheng Yuan dude, but Chan'er didn't know that . Li Yundong pondered her words for a moment . "I'm not sure about her being a collector, but Zi Yuan did mention something interesting the other day . "
Chan'er slid closer to him .
"She said that Liuhe…" Li Yundong glanced at Chan'er . "That's another sword, by the way . Yan Fang used to own it . " When Chan'er nodded, he continued, "Zi Yuan said that Liuhe and Bahuang can combine to form another powerful sword . "
"Another powerful sword?" Chan'er stared back at him, stunned .
Li Yundong nodded .
Chan'er suddenly grabbed his arm . "What sword? What's it capable of?"
"I don't know, Chan'er . " Li Yundong shook his head . "I don't even know the sword's name . " He smiled and padded Chan'er's head . "We're gonna have to ask Zi Yuan tomorrow, I'm afraid—"
His phone rang .
"Um… Yundong… Your phone box has Zhou Qin jiějie's name on it . "
As the phone floated towards him from the coffee table, Chan'er reached for the remote and turned off the TV .
He picked up the call and put it on loudspeaker .
"Hello," he said, giving Chan'er a smile .
Chan'er smiled back .
"H- Hi… Master?"
Chan'er's looked adorably puzzled . Li Yundong watched the quick transition of emotions on her pretty face: puzzlement; realization; understanding; surprise; then finally, joy .
"Yundong! Y- You…" She gaped . "You've taken a disciple?!"
"Um… Wait… Is that… S- Su Chan?"
"Yes, Zhou Qin . You're on loudspeaker, by the way," Li Yundong said, smiling at Chan'er .
Zhou Qin cleared her throat . "Good evening, Master, Mistress . "
Chan'er stared at him with disbelief . Mistress? she mouthed the words to Li Yundong .
Li Yundong shrugged . "Good evening, Zhou Qin . How are you?"
"No, Master . How are you?" Zhou Qin said incredulously . "You've been absent from the university for days . "
Li Yundong sighed . "First of all . Please drop the Master, okay? Just use my name . Please . "
"As you wish, Ma— I mean, Li Yundong . "
"Thank you," Li Yundong said, rubbing his temples .
"Are you returning to school any time soon?" Zhou Qin asked . "Feng Na xuejie has been asking me for your whereabouts . "
Li Yundong shared a glance with Chan'er, then sighed . "I'm sorry, Zhou Qin . But I can't right now . "
"Oh . Um…" Zhou Qin hesitated for a moment . "Can I ask why?"
"I've got things I need to take care of . " He looked towards Chan'er . "Important things that cannot be delayed . "
"Yeah . "
"Anything I can do to help?"
"Well…" Li Yundong glanced at Chan'er .
It's your call, Chan'er mouthed to him .
"Yes?" Zhou Qin asked .
Chan'er moved her lips again: I don't mind .
Li Yundong stared at her .
Chan'er shrugged, then mouthed more words to him: She's your disciple now .
Li Yundong nodded . "Actually, yeah . It would be nice if you can help . "
"Really?" Zhou Qin sounded thrilled .
"Yes . "
"Okay . What should I do?"
Li Yundong shared a glance with Chan'er . "Come by my apartment around noon tomorrow . " He smiled at Chan'er . "And make sure you show up with a healthy appetite . I'll be making lunch . "
"Um… Okay . That's… That sounds great . " Zhou Qin paused . "I'll… See you tomorrow?"
Li Yundong nodded . "See you tomorrow . "
"Right . Good night, Ma—" Zhou Qin cleared her throat . "Good night, Li Yundong . "
"Good night, Zhou Qin jiějie!" Chan'er yelled at the phone . "Nice hearing from you again!"
Zhou Qin laughed . "Likewise, Su Chan . Good night to you both . "
The call ended with a click .