Faine stood at the front door of his house, wondering how he was going to explain everything that had just happened to his mother. He still couldn't believe it himself. Faine Uladu: demon slayer. As he lifted his fist to knock, Gina threw open the door and enveloped her son in a tight hug.
"Oh Faine I was so worried about you." She said. Faine could tell she had been crying. "I saw on the news there was a demon sighting in the park and--"
"I'm okay mom, really." Faine replied. He took a deep breath. "I slayed the demon."
"I know it sounds crazy, but it's the truth."
Faine went on to explain how he'd used his pocket knife to slit the demon's throat. When Gina was still unconvinced, Faine rolled up his right sleeve and showed off the deep bite marks in his plastic arm.
Gina was quiet for a moment. "I read somewhere that depression can lead to self-destructive behaviors, but this is just crazy." She said. "That's it. First thing monday morning I'm checking you into a rehab center. No if, ands, or buts."
"You could've died. Then what would I have done?" Gina snapped. Frustrated, she sat down on the couch and buried her face in her hands. "What compelled you to fight a demon? Do you not value your life anymore?"
"The demon was about to attack a child." Faine said. "I couldn't just sit back and watch."
Gina shook her head. "A few years ago, when we were at the mall, do you remember seeing that demon possess that homeless guy?"
"How could I forget?" Faine replied, remembering the grisly sight.
"You didn't intervene back then." Gina said. "What's changed?"
After a long minute of silence, Faine said, "I've experienced what a demon attack can do to a person." He said. "For a long time, I thought I was untouchable. I couldn't fall victim to a demon attack, right? I was an athlete. I was important." He paused, then added, "Now I understand that I'm just as vulnerable as anyone else. I always have been."
It was the first time Gina had heard her son talk about his feelings concerning the stadium incident, and she wasn't about to let the discussion slip away. Gently, she placed her hand on Faine's right shoulder. Instead of feeling warm flesh beneath his shirt, she was met with plastic and straps. "You're right. No one is invincible." She said quietly. "But you can't keep living your life in a pit of despair."
"I know." Faine replied. "Which is why I've decided to become an exorcist."
"No. No no no no no no no." Gina said. "What happened today in the park wasn't fate or destiny or whatever you kids are calling it these days. It was pure luck."
Faine handed his mother the business card for the Capital Exorcist Academy. "You said I needed to move on. This is a place that could help me do just that."
"Or you could be reasonable and take classes at the local community college like every other kid your age." Gina argued. "Do you know how many exorcists die every day? It's a death sentence. And the internships...who knows where they'd send you?"
"All I know is when I was fighting that demon, I felt something I've never felt before. Something...real. All throughout my gymnastics career, it was all about me. How can I achieve my goals? How can I beat my competitors? But when i slit that demon's throat and the kid thanked me, I realized that I could help other people. I could keep them from going through what I went through." Faine said. He pulled out his pocket knife. It was still flecked with dried ooze from the demon. "I think I'm supposed to be an exorcist."
"Exorcists have to be in good shape."
"Mom, I was a gymnast for years. I know how to get in shape."
"You have one arm."
"Really? I hadn't noticed."
"What I mean is that EVEN if I gave you my blessing to pursue this exorcist thing and EVEN if you made it into the training program, you'd still have a lot of cards stacked against you." Gina explained. "I'm not sure you could handle some of the physical aspects involved with exorcisms. You haven't relearned how to tie your shoes, write, or drive properly with your left hand. What makes you think you can learn tactical fighting skills with one hand?"
"...Lots of practice?"
Gina let out a long sigh. "Listen, you're almost twenty years old. I can't tell you what to do." She said. "If you want to try this exorcist thing, I won't try to stop you."
And so it was decided. The next morning, Faine was to attend orientation at the Capital Exorcist Academy.
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