The little dragon cub had slept for a whole day, so he was in particularly good spirits tonight, still upbeat even after leaving the city bureau.
Bai Huo saw that it was still early, so he brought him to the supermarket.
Since the little dragon cub fell ill, Bai Huo somehow suddenly found his conscience, and felt that he needed to learn how to cook. He pushed the little dragon cub around the fresh produce aisle.
“Cub, what do you think, is there any difference between this fish and this fish?” Bai Huo held up two chilled fish and asked the little dragon cub.
The little dragon cub was sitting in the shopping trolley, he glanced between Bai Huo’s two hands, his saliva almost flowing out: “Both delicious.”
“Okay, then I’ll buy them both.” Bai Huo decisively threw the fishes into the cart, not forgetting to warn the untrustworthy little dragon cub, “Don’t touch them, you can only eat them after they’re cooked.”
Wandering into the vegetable aisle, Bai Huo again encountered a conundrum: “Is this carrot different from that carrot?”
Bai Huo and the little dragon cub looked at each other.
“Forget it, I’ll buy both.”
Standing in front of the shelves in the seasoning aisle, Bai Huo was once again caught in a dilemma: “Is there a difference between this row of soy sauce and that row of soy sauce?”
The little dragon cub stared with round eyes and shook his head.
Although Bai Huo was unreliable, he wasn’t crazy enough to buy all the soy sauce on the shelf. So, he randomly picked a few bottles and stuffed them into the shopping cart, happily pushing his son to the checkout counter.
Passing by the discount vegetable display, the shop assistant was stacking a new pile of vegetables on it. The little dragon cub smelled something interesting and reached out curiously.
“Don’t touch it.” Bai Huo quickly blocked his hand.
“The fish mint roots are fresh, delicious in a salad.” The assistant advertised.
Bai Huo nodded at him, waiting for him to walk far away before pushing the little dragon cub to the side, warning him: “Baby, that vegetable is called fish mint. If you see it again, don’t touch it, and definitely don’t eat it. It’s poisonous, understand? “
The little dragon cub tilted his head: “Poison?”
“Yes,” Bai Huo pinched his tail through his trousers and smiled. “Your tail will be revealed after eating too much.”
The little cub’s tail immediately rolled up in his pants.
Bai Huo grinned, pulling him out of the cart.
Dragon medicine grew in water, and so did dragon poison. Some poisons also grew by the shores, one of them being fish mint root. This plant was quite special. For dragons, its status was closer to that of tobacco in human society. A small dosage could delight the brain and relax the muscles, but a large amount could paralyze and cause hallucinations. In severe cases, it could cause the divine bone to fail, leading to an uncontrollable transformation into your true body.
Fish mint irrevocably damages the brains of young cubs, so parents usually banned them from touching it. Predictably, adolescent dragons in their rebellious period sneakily use fish mint, although it wasn’t as big a deal at that age. At most, they’d be beaten by their parents after being caught. It was similar to human high school students pilfering and smoking cigarettes.
Bai Huo stood in the checkout line, licking his teeth. He couldn’t help but ponder over the flavor of the fish mint tea that young police comrade at the city bureau had deliberately poured for him. He hadn’t tasted fish mint since he became an adult, it brought back old memories.
Exiting the supermarket, Bai Huo carried a large bag of groceries in his left hand, and his son in his right hand, strolling along the sidewalk. He didn’t have much strength at first, but since he’d adopted this child, he carried him all the time, so the muscles in his upper arms had visibly become stronger.
“Cub ah, daddy trained his biceps just so he can carry you.” Bai Huo laughed.
The little dragon cub was leaning his head on Bai Huo’s shoulder. Hearing this, he straightened up and reached into the shopping bag, rummaging around for a few moments. Then he laboriously pulled out a big carrot and held it in his arms, looking at Bai Huo earnestly.
Bai Huo was puzzled: “What, you want to eat it?”
“Help you hold it.” The little dragon explained.
Bai Huo didn’t know whether to laugh or cry: “Great, true filial piety.”
The two turned a corner and crossed the street, entering a quiet alley. The little dragon cub poked his head out sensitively, looking behind them, his expression sinking.
“Did you sense it?” Bai Huo smiled, shooting a glance at the shadow that flitted across the alley entrance, he whispered into the little dragon cub’s ear, “Let him follow, we have to ignore him.”
The little dragon cub remained vigilant, glancing questioningly at Bai Huo.
“The convention stipulates that we can’t take the initiative to harm a human being, even someone who’s malicious towards us.” Bai Huo explained, feeling that the child might not understand, he re-worded, “They’re too weak, we can’t bully them, understand? “
The little dragon cub understood somewhat, he hugged the carrot in his arms for a few moments, then said solemnly, “Protect the fish.”
Sweet child, that person didn’t come here to steal the fish.
Bai Huo didn’t know whether to laugh or cry: “Good, you protect the fish, Dad will protect you.”
As a level-10 klutz, Bai Huo was full of big ideas, but reality was very unforgiving. This he was taught by the kitchen fire that erupted when he tried to cook after returning home. After urgently calling the cleaning lady to come clean up the mess, the whole family unanimously agreed that for everyone’s safety, Bai Huo was banned from entering the kitchen.
“Don’t mope around, one of the most important things about being a man is accepting your limitations.” Before leaving, the cleaning Auntie didn’t forget to leave behind a bowl of chicken soup, along with some wise advice.
Bai Huo crouched in front of the scorched kitchen doorway, bowing his head to the site of his humiliation.
He just wanted to be a loving father, why was it so difficult?!
The plight of the loving father didn’t stop there. The next morning, it was once again time to send the little dragon cub to school. After getting up early to dress his son and stuffing his schoolbag with dried fish, when it was time to leave, the little dragon cub suddenly wrapped his arms around his stomach and stood still.
“What’s wrong?” Bai Huo asked.
The little dragon cub didn’t speak, after a moment, he said in a small voice, “Tummy hurts.”
The pitiful loving father hadn’t encountered such a routine yet, thinking that the child’s indigestion hadn’t subsided, he hurriedly rubbed his belly, asking worriedly, “What’s wrong, did you eat too much last night? Does it hurt here? “
The little dragon cub nodded.
“What about here?”
The little dragon cub nodded again.
Bai Huo was puzzled. Seeing the little dragon cub’s quiet voice and lack of energy, he understood a little, and rubbed the child’s tail: “And here?”
The little dragon cub still nodded.
“That’s not your belly anymore.” Bai Huo reminded him.
The little dragon cub immediately blushed and shook his head. Seeing Bai Huo’s doubts, he hugged Bai Huo’s neck, hanging from his father’s body like a koala.
Bai Huo finally understood his meaning: “You don’t want to go to school?”
The little dragon cub didn’t respond at first, he just looked carefully at Bai Huo, the latter patiently waiting for his answer. The little dragon cub knew that he couldn’t bluff his way out of this, and had no choice but to grievously confess: “You’re leaving me.”
Bai Huo crouched down to his eye-level: “We promised Uncle Ji to do this, we can’t break our promise.”
Seeing the little dragon cub’s eyes slowly reddening, Bai Huo smiled again: “But Dad also promised that he’ll stay with you, and that promise can’t be broken either. So, how about you go to school, and Dad waits outside for you, then we go home together at night?”
The little dragon cub’s tears instantly stopped, stars appearing in his eyes.
“It’s getting late, let’s go.” Bai Huo thought that the child’s expressions changed as quickly as flipping a page in a book. He smiled and picked up the backpack, confirming with the little dragon cub before leaving the house. “Any more questions?”
The little cub shook his head, his tail wagging: “Go to school.”
Bai Huo made good on his promise and didn’t leave after sending his son off, finding a comfortable place to sleep on the tree in front of the gate. The eyes of the child care workers bulged.
“Hey, don’t look at me like that,” Bai Huo folded his hands behind his head and crossed one leg over the other, half-reclining on the branch, a carefree smile on his face, “I’m not inside.”
The workers’ faces were flushed red with anger: “The headmaster said that you’re not welcome here, you … you also can’t sit there! You voyeur!”
“Little sister, your words aren’t making any sense,” Bai Huo beamed. “My son is inside. I came to look at my own son, how can I be a voyeur?”
The childcare worker couldn’t refute him, stomping away in a huff to go complain to a superior.
Bai Huo relaxed on the tree, looking up at the clouds floating and drifting away, listening to the distant sound of children’s laughter, his lazy eyes narrowed slightly.
His child couldn’t live without him. Although it was inconvenient, the feeling of being depended on felt unexpectedly good.
After all, the child was still small, using the reason of not adapting to school life, Bai Huo proposed that the dragon cub’s schedule should be changed from weekly pick up to daily pick up. The application was reasonable, so the headmaster directly approved it without a fuss.
But, because there was no more evening tutoring, Bai Huo now had one more additional task-help the child with his homework.
Under normal circumstances, children would be promoted together with their classmates. But because the dragon cub was a transfer student, he had a lot of homework to catch up on. Bai Huo looked at the assignment that was completely written in English, and felt very weird. What the heck is this?
“Whatever, come here cub, Daddy will teach you how to write your name.”
Bai Huo pushed up his sleeves and pulled the dragon cub up onto his lap, spreading the workbook in front of him. He held the little dragon cub’s paw and wrote each character one by one.
Although Bai Huo was a klutz, his writing was unexpectedly attractive, confident and elegant, besides it being unrecognizable, there was nothing wrong with it.
“Do you know this? This is your name.”
The little dragon cub looked at the three exquisitely cursive Chinese characters on the paper, curiously tracing them with his finger: “Mine?”
“Yes, later, you can write your name on your personal belongings, it’ll mark them as yours.”
Bai Huo was going to show him how to write it again, but the little dragon cub picked up his pen and imitated Bai Huo’s previous movements, writing the words out perfectly in one go. He’d even copied the words’ “unrecognizable”-ness.
My son is a genius. Although Bai Huo had known this for a long time, he still couldn’t help but feel amazed.
“What about yours?” The little dragon cub turned to look at him.
“Mine? Do you want to write my name?” Bai Huo was amused, he waved his hand. “Okay, Dad will write it for you.”
The father and son didn’t do anything else that evening. They wrote Li Lin Xi’s name on all his books and stationery, an activity Bai Huo glorifyingly called the “Anti-theft Mission”.
The little dragon cub wrote until his stomach complained. Bai Huo knew that he couldn’t eat his fill at school, so, remembering that the night market was still open, he snuck out while the fat bird wasn’t paying attention, taking the child out for a snack.
It was almost midnight, there were very few people on the street. The two walked out of the alley, and a figure appeared behind them, tailing them again.
Bai Huo frowned slightly. Although being tracked by a human wasn’t a huge deal, if it was this relentless, he couldn’t help but feel annoyed.
The little dragon cub obviously thought so too, nestled in Bai Huo’s arms, his little face wrinkled into a dumpling: “I want to change my tail.”
The child had to pretend to be a human in the kindergarten all during the day, but he still couldn’t shake his tail at dinner. In Bai Huo’s view, this was undoubtedly child abuse.
Walking under a street lamp, Bai Huo stopped.
Xiao Shu silently flashed into the darkness, a few seconds later, he probed his head out, but the figure under the street light had disappeared.
His heart thudded, but just as he was about to take a step out of the darkness, his shoulder was suddenly smacked.
“You’ve been following me for two days. Even if you want to confess, should you be hesitating this long?”
Xiao Shu turned around sharply, fear flitting across his eyes.
Bai Huo stood behind him with his arms crossed, a rogue smile on his face.
“You …” When all was said and done, Xiao Shu was a police officer. Although his heart was beating violently, he still tried to appear calm, squeezing out a stiff smile. “Director … Director Bai.”
Bai Huo revealed a slightly surprised expression.
When Xiao Shu saw this, he hurriedly took out a cigarette from his cigarette case and handed it to him: “We’ve met before. I’m an intern police officer at the city bureau. I brought you the information on Lin Nian’s case.”
Bai Huo had lived for more than a hundred years. The amount of faces he’d seen in this life could rival the leaves in a forest. He remembered people not by face, but by breath, so after hearing the explanation, he connected the series of events in his mind, responding vaguely. “Oh, it’s you.”
“Y-yeah, it’s me.” Xiao Shu wanted to light the cigarette for him.
Bai Huo waved his hand and refused, gesturing to the child lying on his shoulder: “Why are you following me?”
“No … no reason,” Xiao Shu’s forehead was damp with cold sweat, clenching and unclenching his fingers inside his pants pocket, he stammered, “That, umm, I had a few doubts about the previous case. I’ve been meaning to ask you about it, but I couldn’t find an opportunity. “
Bai Huo let out a prolonged ‘oh’, then asked: “Since the case is already closed, shouldn’t you take your doubts to your captain?”
“The captain’s kinda…” Xiao Shu forced a laugh. “You know how he is, he’s not a very good communicator.”
Bai Huo thought that this man was a little strange. He didn’t know what there was to be so flustered about. His face was so good that it wasn’t rare for him to be scouted by model agencies, if Bai Huo had to appraise himself, he’d say “highly approachable”. Why would this man feel so nervous just talking to him?
The little dragon cub seemed to sense something. Lying on top of Bai Huo’s shoulders, he narrowed his eyes sharply at Xiao Shu.
“My son wants a midnight snack, would you like to come along?” Bai Huo shrugged indifferently and walked ahead, carrying the child with him.
Xiao Shu hurriedly nodded: “Y-yeah, sure.”
The alley’s entrance was still a long way from the night market, on the way, Bai Huo discussed snacks with the little dragon, ignoring Xiao Shu behind him.
“Director Bai.” When they stepped out of the alley, Xiao Shu suddenly called out.
“What?” Bai Huo turned around.
Everything happened in a split second-
A knife suddenly flew out of Xiao Shu’s cuff, heading towards Bai Huo’s throat.
“Good throw.” This was Bai Huo’s first thought.
“Too slow” was his second.
The blade flashed a sharp light under the dim yellow street light, Bai Huo stood in place, only slightly adjusting the hand holding the little dragon cub, putting him out of harm’s way.
Everything seemed to move in slow motion. Xiao Shu’s eyes widened, watching the sharp blade slice through the air, seeing its trajectory towards Bai Huo’s throat. The latter seemed completely unaware, still standing in place and staring blankly, like nothing had happened.
At this, Xiao Shu woke up like from a dream, his pupils shrank, and his voice cracked as he shouted: “Watch out!”
However, it was already too late to dodge. Bai Huo only had enough time to tilt his head slightly. The blade streaked across his chin, blood flowing instantly. A painful expression flashed across Bai Huo’s face and he crouched down, covering his chin.
“W-why didn’t you dodge it? You … you aren’t a…?” Xiao Shu said incoherently, his face pale. The fish mint had no effect, and the reaction to the knife was completely human. Xiao Shu’s cold sweat rained down, and he hurried forward to help Bai Huo up, “Are you hurt, I … I’m sorry, I …”
Bai Huo covered his chin with one hand, and secretly squeezed the little dragon cub with his other. The latter’s expression was bloodthirsty, like he couldn’t wait to tear Xiao Shu apart.
“It’s fine, it’s just a flesh wound.” Bai Huo took a few deep breaths and stood up, snarling, “What the hell is wrong with you? Are you mental?”
Xiao Shu trembled from head to toe, Bai Huo couldn’t tell if his eyes held more regret or shock. His voice was obviously lacking energy. “I’m sorry, I’ll take you to the hospital …”
“What hospital? As a police officer, you randomly attack citizens with knives, this won’t be settled with a hospital visit! I’m reporting you to your captain.” Bai Huo covered his chin, his voice fierce.
Xiao Shu eventually respectfully sent Bai Huo to the hospital, even using his own money to get Bai Huo the best doctor. He also bought a pile of snacks and toys for the little dragon cub, unfortunately, the little dragon cub despised him, and never stopped glaring at him.
By the time Bai Huo walked out of the consulting room, well bandaged, Luo Wen Xu and Ji Bei had already rushed over. Luo Wen Xu stood in the entrance, loudly scolding the young officer, but Ji Bei didn’t calm him down like usual. When he saw Bai Huo walk out, he immediately ran over to inquire about his injuries.
“I let you down today. I’ll certainly give you an explanation for this.” Ji Bei said quietly, “This man won’t stay here, I’ll send him far away.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that,” Bai Huo smiled, stroking the wound on his chin, then he said in a voice that only the two people could hear, “It’s enough to just make him give up.”
Ji Bei looked at him doubtfully: “You let it happen?”
Bai Huo hid the wound under a surgical mask and picked up his son, who had been waiting for a long time, saying, “I don’t like being tested by humans.”
Luo Wen Xu shoved Xiao Shu directly into the back seat of the police cursor and locked the door, the only thing missing was the handcuffs.
“Come, I’ll send you home.” Luo Wen Xu was so full of anger that he couldn’t keep the volume of his voice down, causing a small crowd to form.
“Forget it, I don’t want to sit in the same car with him, it’s bad luck.” Bai Huo said in disgust, walking away with his son.
“… I really didn’t do it on purpose.” Xiao Shu whispered inside the car, not daring to lift his head.
Bai Huo paused, seemingly recalling something. He turned around and walked up to the car window.
“My son grew up very sheltered, he can’t stand the sight of blood.” Bai Huo smiled as he spoke, but the smile didn’t reach his eyes at all. He tossed the knife back to Xiao Shu, “Here’s your knife, put it away properly.”
Attractive- It said the hand writing was ‘good’, but good and unrecognizable writing can’t be in the same sentence. I’m guessing it’s the difference between short hand and cursive for English. It looks pretty, but not many people can read cursive anymore.