While they dealt with the confusion of kindergarten, unconsciously, two months passed.
If Ji Bei hadn’t suddenly called, Bai Huo would’ve almost forgotten his reason for sending the little dragon cub to the kindergarten.
“There’s an update,” Ji Bei said briefly, “After tempting the criminal gang for so long, they’ve finally made some new moves.”
Bai Huo was leaning over his son to clean his ears, lazily asking: “What do you need me to do?”
As soon as he spoke, the little dragon cub felt itchy, he pulled his head back and curled up his tail.
“Don’t hide.” Bai Huo grabbed his furry dragon horns.
The little dragon cub obediently laid back down on Bai Huo’s legs.
Bai Huo was a level-10 klutz, but he was very careful when cleaning the cub’s ears and cutting his nails. Sitting in a beam of sunshine, his earnest and careful look even revealed a little tenderness. The fat bird trembled in fear at the sound of the nail clipper. He didn’t want to trim his claws, so he fluttered his wings, escaping to go chase after the Hwamei girl.
“You don’t need to do anything, just keep doing what you’re doing. Go to school, go home, then go to school again, business as usual. Make sure your child wears all the trackers and alarms I gave you.”
Bai Huo glanced at the trackers on top of the cabinet, which now had a few layers of dust, and gave a vague response.
“Just put them on. You should also pay more attention to your surroundings. If you notice something, don’t act without permission. Report to us right away.” Ji Bei warned, “This time we can’t afford to mess up.”
The two agreed on the plan. Bai Huo hung up the phone, finally coming out of his daze. The little dragon cub had noticed that he wasn’t paying attention and had quickly slipped away, hiding behind the refrigerator.
“Li Lin Xi.” Bai Huo called him.
The little dragon cub stayed silent, pretending that he didn’t exist.
Bai Huo chuckled when he saw the tail poking out from behind the refrigerator: “Hey, your tail is exposed.”
The little dragon cub quickly pulled in his tail.
“What happened?” Bai Huo walked over with a smile, pulling him out. “You really hate cutting your nails, huh?”
The little dragon cub was suspended in the air, he didn’t respond, his horns drooping, his four plump claws stubbornly curling up in resistance. After entering the soft scale stage, the little dragon cub’s feathers began growing out. Now, the previously bald places had sprouted short and thin feathers, deeper than the previous smoky gray fur, almost blue-black, and there was a patch of white feathers in between the brows and on the tip of the tail. From head to tail, a perfect combination of majesty and cuteness.
Most dragons were pure in color during the soft scale stage, only a few would grow feathers of different colors on their ears or tail, with a probability similar to that of dimples on a human.
After their time together, Bai Huo found that the little dragon cub was very obedient most of the time, except when it was time to clean his ears or cut his nails, similar to how human children didn’t like to eat rice and cut their hair, every time, he needed to be coaxed.
Cleaning his ears was relatively easy, the little dragon cub usually just stiffened up and his ears reddened, but when it’s time to cut his nails, all hell breaks loose. When Bai Huo picked up the nail clipper, the little dragon cub would quickly run away, and when Bai Huo called him, his life-less eyes were filled with the words “If you keep forcing me, I’ll run into the kitchen to stew myself in the big iron pot“.
“It’s been so long since you’ve cut your nails, what if you accidentally scratch myself?” Bai Huo scolded. He lifted his two slender legs and folded them into a diamond, trapping the little dragon cub in the middle, then he brandished the hateful nail clipper and ordered, “Show me your claws!”
The little dragon cub raised his paw grudgingly.
As the saying goes, unfamiliar at first, but well accustomed soon enough, Bai Huo had slowly gained experience in nail cutting, so it took him less than ten minutes to clean the cub’s nails. After cutting, he inspected the claws and blew away any dust, then released the cub, satisfied: “Okay, you can go play now.”
The little dragon cub looked down at his bare paws, then he ran to a corner of the balcony and silently squatted, similar to a depressed shaved cat.
Bai Huo felt both helpless and amused.
At dinner, the little dragon cub had finally accepted the fact that he was a bald-clawed dragon, and turned back into his human shape, sitting dejectedly at the table as he picked his rice.
Bai Huo coaxed him for a while, but nothing changed, so he had no choice but to ask Shan Hu for advice.
“Hey, I need to ask you something.” Bai Huo crossed his legs, carelessly speaking. “Do all children hate cleaning their ears and cutting their nails, or is my son special?”
“Cleaning ears? Cutting nails?” Shan Hu almost spit out saliva. “What nonsense are you asking? He’s a dragon, a dragon ah!”
“What does any of that have to do with being a dragon?” Bai Huo was puzzled.
“Haven’t you learned dragon anatomy before?”
“I never got to finish my lessons, you know that. The old lady thought I was unlucky, so she kicked me out whenever she saw me.” Bai Huo innocently explained.
Of course, later on, Bai Huo stopped trying to appear in front of her. Whenever she was giving a lecture, he just ran off to screw around.
Shan Hu face palmed, but she had no choice but to explain: “A dragon’s scales is their armor, with it, their outer body is almost invulnerable. The only weak points are the tongue, ears, eyes, and the soles of their feet. Therefore, dragons are extremely sensitive at these areas, even as cubs. Cleaning the child’s ears is basically tickling his weakness, how can he feel comfortable? And the nails, dragon cubs don’t have fully developed wings yet, they can only rely on their claws to maintain balance, if you cut his nails, how else is he going to catch fish and climb trees? How can he be happy?! “
Bai Huo suddenly had an epiphany: “Oh … so that’s how it is.”
Then he immediately gave his son a guiltily look: “I’ve cut his nails several times.”
Shan Hu choked, then sighed, “Your son is too obedient. If he was a troublemaker, you would’ve definitely been clawed already.”
Bai Huo heartily agreed with her.
When he’d first cut the cub’s nails, his technique wasn’t as good as now. He’d even accidentally drawn blood during the first cut. The little cub had only pulled away his claws at that time. After Bai Huo urgently transferred the wound, the child had obediently let him continue cutting him. Of course, after the dragon cub realized that he couldn’t climb trees without his nails, he started running away during nail cutting time.
“But …” Shan Hu turned the topic back. “Managing the claws is the first step towards civilization. If you want to keep cutting it, then cut it. The current method of survival is different from our childhood. Cultivating these human habits early might not be a bad thing, just don’t cut them too short, leave some length for him to play.”
With that said, Shan Hu once again strongly recommended the “Dragon Parenting Manual”, Bai Huo ‘yeah yeah’-ed and ruthlessly hung up the phone.
In the past two months, not only had the dragon cub’s feathers grown out significantly, even his teeth had sharpened. In the middle of the night, he’ll unconsciously grind his teeth in his sleep, the sound resembled a dog gnawing a bone. Bai Huo folded his hands behind his head, not able to catch any sleep because of the noise. The next day, he went to the forestry station bright and early, picked out the thickest and oldest tree, and started chopping. Then he shaved it down and threw it to the little dragon cub to nibble on.
“Fortunately, I took you out of the dormitory.” Bai Huo gave the little dragon cub his backpack and carried him to school, his complexion especially pale because of lack of sleep. “You would’ve frightened your teachers and classmates to death with that bite strength.”
The little dragon cub didn’t know what he did last night, blinking in doubt at the big wooden bone.
“Wear this, don’t take it off.” Bai Huo hung the tracker on the little dragon cub’s schoolbag. The tracker was a key ring of a Minion, it didn’t look obtrusive. “OK, go to school.”
After the little dragon cub’s perception range grew wider, Bai Huo no longer needed to squat in front of the school gate all day while the childcare workers glared at him. Instead, he ran to the mahjong parlor near the school to carry out his poverty alleviation duties, then picked up his son after school.
This made the little dragon cub feel bitter. Before, he could see his Dad for a bit during the lunch break, now he had to leave school to see him. The little dragon cub was very unhappy about this, until today, when another child stole his snacks, and the two had a dispute, leading to their parents being called in.
Bai Huo rushed over from the mahjong parlor, dreading that his son would bite someone else’s child. When he entered the room, he saw the two children sitting properly, and the other parent standing to the side with a fuming expression. At this, he sighed in relief, his paper white face finally regaining some color.
“Beautiful teacher, I’m really sorry that my son has caused you trouble.” Bai Huo ignored the other parent, smiling as he reached for the homeroom teacher’s hand.
The homeroom teacher was very embarrassed by his title of “senior beauty”: “Oh no, Little Lin Xi is still very well-behaved, it’s just …”
The homeroom teacher glanced at the other parent’s face, struggling to find wording that would be acceptable to both sides: “It’s just that his temper is a little cold and a bit domineering, nothing more.”
“It’s all my fault.” Bai Huo covered his face with one hand, slapping his chest with the other, deeply apologetic. “You know about his mother leaving early. I’ve been raising him alone, there will inevitably be some unsatisfactory areas. Since you called me in, he must be responsible for this incident. I’ll severely punish him as soon as we get home. “
After speaking, Bai Huo walked over to pick up the little dragon cub. The homeroom teacher was shocked, hurriedly stepping forward to stop him: “No, no, listen to me, please don’t be rough, the child is still young …”
“No, no, you listen to me, it’s better to be unborn than untaught. Hit someone at school today, murder someone in society tomorrow. If I don’t strictly discipline him now, then when? Please step aside…. “
The homeroom teacher’s lines were all snatched away, choking, she said roughly, “No, that’s not it! Don’t move!”
Bai Huo hugged his son, quickly checking him for any wounds. He turned his head at those words, pushing up his glasses with his forefinger.
The homeroom teacher collapsed: “Bring the two children home, they’re both tired out. Rest for a day, and let them calm down. I’ll help them shake hands and make peace tomorrow.”
This was the kindergarten’s usual method of handling things. The parent of the other party was obviously still angry and wanted to argue, but Bai Huo interrupted them, generously expressing his understanding and willingness to fully cooperate with the school’s education.
Bai Huo was being so reasonable that it would be awkward for the other parent to be too demanding, without a better choice, they had to grit their teeth and carry away their crying child.
When the two left the school, Bai Huo patted the little dragon cub’s back, smiling, “Were you scared? Dad won’t punish you, don’t be scared.”
The little dragon cub hugged him, saying melancholily, “I didn’t bite him.”
“Yeah, Dad knows that you’re very obedient.” Bai Huo caressed his son’s head, adding in his heart, if you had bit him, would that child even be alive to cry.
Bai Huo understood his child’s temperament, he knew that his personality was very aloof, and that it was entirely beneath his dignity to randomly provoke others. He even had enough self-control to not hit back when offended. Bai Huo thought of this, and his heart crumbled, asking softly, “Did he bully you?”
The little dragon cub shook his head, saying that he didn’t care. After a moment, he took out a package of dried squid from his schoolbag and handed it to Bai Huo: “For you.”
Bai Huo took it, very surprised: “For me?”
Bai Huo pondered over the package, combining it with the complaint the homeroom teacher had given over the phone, finally understanding.
The kindergarten usually gave the children afternoon snacks, and today happened to be the little dragon cub’s favorite dried squid. The child sitting next to him also likes it. After eating his share, when he saw that the little dragon cub hadn’t touched his, he tried to exchange his toys for the cub’s snacks. Of course, the little dragon cub didn’t accept, in fact, he completely ignored him. The other child couldn’t exchange it, and he also couldn’t steal it, so he cried loudly, attracting the teachers and parents’ attention.
It goes without saying that this incident wasn’t a big deal, but unfortunately, the other child’s father was quite an influential government official. The school didn’t dare insult him, so they had no choice but to call in Bai Huo.
Bai Huo had lived a long time. After witnessing the world’s endless cycle of life and death, he would always be more merciful to human beings, whose life spans and abilities were inferior to his. So, he wouldn’t hold a grudge over this matter, he only needed to care about his son.
“You like dried squid that much?” Bai Huo smiled and coaxed him.
The little dragon cub wrapped his hands around Bai Huo’s neck, saying coldly, “Mine is mine, can’t touch it.”
Bai Huo was originally worried that this event would hurt the little dragon cub’s feelings, but later, he found that he was completely overthinking it. Instead of being negatively affected, the little cub discovered a new equation called “Parents called in = I can see my father”, and began acting like a little demon.
The previously well-behaved child, who had never been mischievous, suddenly went to great lengths to cause trouble, the homeroom teacher bore the brunt of the suffering, and soon collapsed.
“Li Lin Xi’s Papa, Little Lin Xi tore up all his workbooks, please come in.”
“Li Lin Xi’s Papa, Little Lin Xi slipped out during lunch break to climb a tree, please come in.”
“Li Lin Xi’s Papa, please come in …”
Bai Huo didn’t get annoyed by this; he just patiently ran to the school.
The homeroom teacher had worked in preschool education for many years, she flaunted herself as being extremely patient, but after meeting Bai Huo, she had no choice but to concede defeat. These past few days, she was simply miserable, and she was already looking forward to summer vacation.
Just as the battle between the two parties was getting intense, the dragon cub suddenly quieted down again, and made no movements for two or three days. While sitting at the mahjong table, Bai Huo brooded over his peaceful cell phone, quite confused.
In the end, Bai Huo couldn’t sit still. He left the mahjong table early and ran to the school without being summoned. The sentries had seen him come in every day for the past few days, so they just let him in without question. Bai Huo followed the child’s breath to find the activity room. He saw the other children digging in the sand pits in little groups, only the little dragon cub was playing alone. Without a second thought, he rolled up his sleeves and jumped into the sand pit to help his son mold the sand.
The little dragon cub seemed to have been very lost in his thoughts, he didn’t even sense Bai Huo’s approach. When he looked up and saw him, his eyes instantly lit up, but a short while later, his expression turned heavy again.
“You didn’t miss me today?” Bai Huo smiled and playfully sprinkled some sand at him.
The little dragon cub lowered his head and dug into the sand: “Missed you.”
“So why are you so obedient today?” Bai Huo asked again.
The little dragon cub gave him a complicated look, then suddenly asked, “What is un-adopted?”
Bai Huo was baffled, after inquiring from a kindergarten teacher, he found out that one of the little dragon cub’s classmates was pulled out of school two days ago. The reason being, the child had been adopted, but a few months later, the adoptive parents gave birth to twins. After numerous discussions, the family un-adopted the child and returned them to the welfare agency.
Children might look like they didn’t understand, but in fact, they were very sensitive to these matters. The little dragon cub must have heard some gossip.
“Will you not want me?” The little dragon cub’s eyes were deep.
In the child’s rapidly expanding small world, he realized that he could be abandoned. Bai Huo looked at the fear on his face that he was desperately trying to hide, and his heart broke.
“I’ll never abandon you.” Bai Huo put away his natural carefree expression, saying sincerely.
The little dragon cub looked at him for a long time, seemingly trying to confirm the truth of this sentence.
“Come.” Bai Huo patted the sand off his hands, and half-kneeled, picking up the little dragon cub’s hand. He placed his palm on the child’s smaller palm and said, “This might sting a bit.”
The little dragon cub stared in a daze as Bai Huo put their palms together and turned his hand in a strange circle, then the cub felt a slight tingling spread out from his palm.
“Done.” Bai Huo said and held up his little hand.
The little dragon cub stared at his palm, there was a crescent-shaped bloody scar, which sank into the skin only a moment later.
“What is it?” The little dragon cub asked curiously.
“A divine bone contract.” Bai Huo smiled, casually sucking away the scar on the little dragon’s hand with the Wound Transferal spell.
“No matter where I am in the future, you can always sense my position.” Bai Huo rubbed the little dragon cub’s head and chuckled. “Now you won’t be afraid that I’ll abandon you, right? Little cub, you also can’t run away later, when you grow up, you have to obediently take care of your elderly Dad.”
The little dragon cub shook his palm, then threw himself into Bai Huo’s arms, refusing to let go for a long time.
stew myself in the big iron pot- it’s some kind of meme in China to take pictures when your cat voluntarily puts themselves into cooking pots. Thought I should share.
screw around- the same ‘digging bird nests’ sentence pops up. Since they both have to do with skipping school, I’m sticking to my interpretation. Unless there’s an epidemic of children terrorizing birds in China.
severely punish- Bai Huo actually says that he’s going to ‘beat him up’, 3 times in his little act. I didn’t want to trigger anyone’s childhood trauma so I re-worded it.
un-adopted- 弃养 , better translation is just plain old abandoned, but it looks like something you can legally do to adopted pets and humans (d!ck move btw), plus, it doesn’t make sense for LLX to not know the word abandoned.