Tick, tock, tick, tock.
//A mouse should be asleep. It wasn't healthy and it wasn't right. Without sleep, how can a mouse do his job well? Worn-out mice aren't entertaining, in fact they aren't good for anything.//
It was a quarter past four in the morning and, despite how much he needed to, Carrow Brisby couldn't find any rest. His mouth was dry and his legs and tail were feeling stiff, but if the field mouse moved now he knew he'd be doomed to insomnia for yet another night, and it simply had to end today. Soon he'd reach three terrible nights of broken sleep, or was it four? To his embarrassment he wasn't even sure what day it was any more, though his bedside clock said Thursday so he'd go with that.
//But a mouse has to do something. Eat and wash and work and live. He can't stay in bed. A mouse has to pull himself together, and stop getting dragged down. Everyone else seems to manage it. I should try harder.//
Carrow shuddered awake from his quick microsleep, and wiped his whiskers clean of spittle. On Wednesday, he had barely left the bed at all. He didn't remember much of the day from before noon, but from then onwards the mouse had felt awake, lively, faintly capable. The mouse had even remembered to stumble into the shower and scrub his brown fur clean. He'd been a bit irritable, still very much sleep-deprived, but some coffee and a calm chat with a friend had kept him level and distracted for at least a few hours. Then, a familiar weariness had set in after dinner, and before the sun went down he was back in bed, taking his daily medicine, wrestling with his duvet and his pillow and his thoughts. Wondering what happened to the day, and thinking about tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.
//I can't go on like this. I have to stop cancelling my gigs. I'm not so fortunate that I can laze about in bed all day. Having one disruptive customer on my stage isn't the end of the world. I don't always have to agree with my friends. Other people have actual, real problems and I have no perspective. I've been sorry for myself for long enough. It's just pathetic.//
The mouse rolled over suddenly, and clumsily pushed a pair of headphones over his large ears, turning on some light music and hugging one of the stuffed toys that surrounded his bed. He wouldn't get any sleep that way, but his internal monologue was turning against him and he didn't want to go down that route tonight. Better to drown it out. Maybe he'd invite some night owl over in a while for some late night chatter.
//For all the good that will do. These people have lives, and I have nothing but misery and loneliness. Are they even interested, are they just being polite? But secretly I know it's not a real connection, I just need the distraction, isn't that awful? Pointless words to suck up sympathy, hiding in bed day after day, that's me until they stuff me into a box, say a few words, toss me in the fire. Well done Carrow, was it worth it? Am I satisfied? Did I do good? Or did I just take up space and air and wear out a bed or two?//
Carrow visibly shook, as his own anxious imagination tortured him with racing thoughts; truth and delusion blended together into a new, tremendous poison. In his tired state it was beyond reproach, and he faced into his pillow and sobbed. A trickle became a helpless flood, and the mouse cried and curled up into a little ball. Wrapped in blankets and pillow he was warm and he was muted, hoping his neighbours couldn't hear.
It took some time before Carrow's stream of consciousness went quiet. He lost track of how long it was before he started to calm down, but he would relapse into tears a couple of times more. Another day was beginning for the depressed little mouse, whose body and mind both ached with deep weariness. Thankfully, and exhaustedly, he would manage to find a couple of hours of dreamless sleep.
The waiting area was a small room with two sturdy chairs. Carrow the mouse had one, and the other was empty. One door led outside, and the other was closed and had a sand clock on the front, with "Waiting time" above it. It suggested about ten minutes until he would be seen.
The shock of last night had pushed him into action; he'd had bad nights but never quite as intense as that. The mouse was nervous, his heart was beating so fast, and it was a struggle to breathe slowly and calmly. Carrow had left the safety of his home, following the advice of his friends and finally seeking help from a specialist. His mental troubles would not be easy to resolve, but first on his list was to get a good night of sleep; the mouse didn't feel anything could change until he broke his current cycle of insomnia.
Carrow had about half a cup of coffee left, which he was sipping slowly as it cooled. His mousey hands trembled, and his tail fidgeted weakly against the chair. He had a small headache, and he was certain that he looked rather unwell; messy fur, pale nose and tail, and plain clothes with a few creases to them. Most importantly, he was lucid and he was here, waiting to see the specialist. Nall was his name, and he seemed to have good reviews and recommendations from those who knew of him. There was still some doubt in the little mouse's mind as to how he'd be helped, but he really couldn't bear another night like that one.
A quiet figure had crept in and taken the second seat while Carrow was distracted by thoughts. Light brown and quite fluffy, the new weasely creature nibbled his claws and looked around the room. His gaze moved across the wall, picture to floorboard to Carrow and then quickly away again to the clock on the wall; signs of nervousness that the mouse recognised.
"Five minutes until you, mm. How long will you need?" asked the mustelid, breaking the silence.
"Um, I don't know," admitted Carrow, drinking more of his coffee and letting his tail fidget. "This is my first visit. Maybe half an hour? But if you're in a hurry, um, I could be quick."
"Don't worry. Have as long as you need," he said, smiling lightly and looking over at the mouse. "It's important to take care of yourself. What's your name?"
"Ah, Carrow. Carrow Brisby. Um, pleased to meet you, I don't think we've met before, have we…?"
Carrow had stopped breathing so quickly, and with the gentle conversation he was beginning to settle down. The weasel sat back looked him over, eyes moving from head to tail with a curious look to him.
"I don't want to alarm you, but you look very pale. May I?" He raised his paw and gestured to his own forehead.
The mouse nodded, and the weasel pressed his paw against Carrow's brow. The pads were soft, and the touch was warm; unusual, but not unwelcome.
"You're quite cold, and you keep slipping in and out of sleep. Oh, you poor little thing. I think we'd better move into my room now, and once you're wrapped up and comfortable we can talk some more."
A few moments went by, and realisation dawned on Carrow that he'd been speaking to Nall. The pine marten stood up, quite some inches taller than the mouse, and offered a paw. "Up you come, little one. Take it easy."
The mouse felt himself blush, from ears to cheeks, as he looked up. This wasn't the clinical meeting he had expected, and Nall seemed genuinely concerned.
"But… you're Nall? I mean, you were just sitting here, and we were chatting, and you seemed kinda anxious, and I thought-"
"Oh, me?" Nall's tail touched against Carrow's, lightly, encouragingly. "I'm here to help. It's important, you're important, so I get nervous. Nobody is always right, especially not me, but I promise I will do my best."
Carrow wasn't sure what to say for a moment, smiling with a warmth in his chest as the marten's candid response left him off guard. They were going to move next door, he had said, so the mouse stood up and took the offered paw. Suddenly the room swayed off to one side, and then he was off balance and gathered in Nall's arms, and then everything was black and quiet.
Waking up after fainting was unpleasant, but it had to be done. Nall had brought the mouse onto his couch and propped him up with pillows, a soft and heavy fleece blanket around his body with his tail and feet raised in front of him. A cup of sweet honeyed tea was placed in Carrow's paws and he drank, feeling better for the sweetness and the attention.
The marten's treatment room was quite simple, decorated in wood and plants as though it was a treehouse, a tall bookshelf full of notes and books and trinkets along with a worn seat for Nall, and several different places for visitors. Couch, cushion, beanbag; privacy screens, a desk in one corner, candle lights in the ceiling and in standing lamps around the room. Carrow felt safe, but also very silly; in his rush to get here he had forgotten all sorts of useful things such as breakfast, and water, and just how tired and exhausted he really was.
"I can't sleep properly any more. I haven't slept for days," said the mouse, words tumbling out of him much easier than he had expected. In the face of Nall's genuine concern, he was so eager to tell his thoughts.
"I'm a performer, a stage magician, a hypnotist and hypnotherapist, business is irregular and customers are stressful. It's satisfying but it's hard. I'm so worried when there's few gigs, when there's few clients, when stage customers don't buy into the act. I take it out on friends and feel guilty, like they shouldn't keep forgiving me. I-"
Nall interrupted, putting his arms around Carrow and hugging tight, resting his nose and chin near to a large mouse ear. Tails nestled together, and gentle whispers caught his attention.
"Shh, shh, little mouse. It's good to get it out, very good, but you're so tired. So tired. You just keep chewing on it again and again, and it chews back again and again. Get your strength. Empty your mind for a while. Sleep, sleep and be rested, and then we work your thoughts together."
It was good advice, like a breath of fresh air. Nall leaned away from the hug and gestured his paw up at the ceiling, closing the fingers. In time, the candles started to dim, bringing down the light level, making it darker. Carrow felt tense down his back, but Nall moved his chair around behind him and brought furry marten arms back around the mouse.
"All good. You need to rest and relax. Finish your tea and let me have your cup. I will take care of everything."
Soft balls of white light formed in the air ahead of Carrow as he finished his drink, one after the other. Soon there were five of them, bobbing gently in the currents, arranged as four corners of a square with one in the middle. The mouse relinquished his cup, and curiously watched ahead. Nall breathed in, and the lights began to trace spirals in the air, slow and long-lasting as they warmed up. Against the dim room, they were very visible. The mouse was quiet, his eyes began to circle, drifting from one appeal to another. The room was very quiet, and Nall was very gentle; the marten had a soft regular heartbeat and drew breath slowly. He was concentrating.
"Not stage magic," the marten said, with a purr to his voice. "Not great for performance. Good for health, though.
"Look at the spirals, little one. Round and round, like your eyes go round and round. Look at the spirals and listen only to me, only to Nall; you are safe here. Watch the lights, watch the spirals.
"You're spinning, yes. So reliable, so continual, round and round, let yourself drift. Find a spiral to follow. Look, and drift, and listen."
Carrow felt so heavy as he listened and followed the words. The marten's voice was musical and soft, and enjoyable to hear; it calmed and soothed him more with each moment. The spiralling lights were artfully done, synchronised and aesthetic, and he found himself drawn to the one in the centre. It gently changed colours: soft yellow, pink, brown, cycling.
"That one is yours, now. Look, and listen, and drift; it has your colours now. See it going round and round. In you go, little one. Little mouse spinning round and round. In, and safe, and round, and round. Not sat in chair, no; spinning, drifting, flowing, spiralling. Safe. Free of worries and thoughts and free to drift and dream.
"I'm counting down from five. Five little lights, four in a square, three of your colours, two for you and me, one spinning spiral all for you. Spin, drift, hear my voice. You're in."
Carrow felt his senses focus and close in on the spiralling light. It was all he could see, all he could sense; as Nall's countdown finished he felt himself drawn away into the light, a little mouse scampering round and round, shiny yellow, then pink, then brown, then back to yellow. Spirals of light didn't have worries. They drifted, and shone, and listened to Nall, and looked lovely.
"Good mouse, very good. Very safe. Round and round you go. Drifting off, first to relax and then to sleep. Listen to me, only to me, round and round you drift.
Little mouse scampering in your spiral, listen and relax. I've got you."
Marten paws kneaded and pushed at Carrow, beginning around his shoulders before slipping down his back. But the mouse was a spiral of light, round and round, and under Nall's control the light became a figure of eight, a sine wave, a coil.
"All in safe paws now. Massaging. Kneading and stretching. With me you can spiral and dance and wave and twist, round and round. Now you're a little mousy ball of light. Now you're spiralling round and round, drifting and relaxing. From ears to back to hips to feet."
Carrow drifted so far, and so deep; the marten was definitely massaging him, working knots out of tired muscles and bringing colour back to ears and tail, finishing with each paw in turn underneath the warm, fuzzy blanket. But, Nall was also playing with the shiny light, with his spiralling self, round and round and all about. Paws moved and he followed, and drifted, and relaxed. Soft words in his mind were like sweet nectar, lyrical and wonderful, keeping the worries at bay.
"I've got you, safe with Nall, listen to me. Round and round, good little mouse, drifting so much. Spiralling, swirling, floating. Drifting and so relaxed, massaged and without stress. Go round and round, little one, little light of yellow and pink and brown. It's time to drift, time to relax, time to sleep. Rest for a weary mouse."
Carrow remained in trance, though he felt himself yawn and his vision grow blurry. He was so sleepy, and soon he would get his rest. The tired mouse's gaze drifted between the five spiral lights which continued to spin and grab his attention. For the first time in so many days, he felt clear and he felt good. His body felt almost new and a bit unfamiliar, like Nall's massages had remade him. He was safe, and he was warm, and he trusted so much that he would be better soon. Tears slowly gathered in the wells of his eyes, before small streaks trickled onto his cheeks and along his whiskers.
"Down, and back, and warm, and safe. What are you thinking, little mouse?"
Carrow heard himself speak, "Nothing. I'm so clear. I'm above the worries, I'm free. I could do so much..." His voice cracked and faltered with emotion, eyes wet with relief. Nall gently slid into view, eclipsing the middle spiral as four white lights continued to swirl around in the mouse's vision, taking Carrow's paws and giving them a gentle squeeze.
"Shh, it's okay, little one. These things we will do. But you have to sleep, you need to sleep, you must rest. Listen to me, listen only to Nall. Look at your spirals and look into my eyes."
The marten's eyes shone a bright green, shiny spirals of light and dark green which swirled hypnotically. Carrow was drawn to look, and then he couldn't pull away; the mouse watched them go round and round. Nall drew closer, leaning forward until the two were close to touching noses. All he could see were those green, shiny, spiralling eyes. To bring out the moment, the marten lifted back the blanket and let his long tail wind around him, keeping him cosy and warm and close. The rodent's mouth hung open, surprised by the sensations and tranced by those eyes, and his body started to relax. Nall was certainly affectionate, with intimate methods that made Carrow feel so special, so safe and so trusting as he fell deeper and deeper into his trance.
"You've done well today, Carrow, and now it's time to sleep. Time to sleep. You feel so heavy, your body and your head. And your eyes, you can barely keep them open. Let them close. Let them drift. Sleep helps you rest, makes you fit, helps you think. You'll sleep well, and we'll talk more when you wake up.
"Time to sleep, little one. I'm counting down from ten…"
There was a gentle eagerness from Carrow to hear more of those sweet words, to let himself be swept away in that tail embrace, to be carried along by Nall's sincerity and genuine concern. He gazed, and he slowly blinked, and his own dark mousey eyes started to change and spiral until they were just like the marten's. All he could see were those eyes, those spinning green spirals, even when he was blinking and he no longer knew whether he was awake or not. Nall had said he was counting, but the brown mouse was so completely in trance that he didn't really hear most of the numbers. The act of falling to sleep was left to his subconscious, guided down by the gentle count. Ten, nine, eight, seven...
Carrow's eyes spiralled and swirled as they slowly drew closed. His breaths grew deeper, and he laid still on the marten's couch, still snugly wrapped in his tail. The fleecy blanket rose and fell with the movement of his chest. This was no microsleep, this was the real thing. Nall let several minutes pass, to make sure that it had really worked. Then he slowly unwound his tail, sat back in his chair, and dispelled his magic: paws pressed together and he let out a deep, satisfied breath. The spirals faded, and his eyes returned to normal, though the candles stayed quite dim. Nall took a few breaths, and relaxed, and gave himself a few moments to have a quiet little cry into one of his big forepaws. That was pretty intense for him, as well as it must have been for the little mouse.
The marten let Carrow sleep on the couch for a good half an hour, while he regained his composure; Nall washed his face and paws, stood by the window to get a bit of fresh air, drank water and tidied his fur. The day was moving on, and Carrow seemed to be very much into deep sleep by then. The pine marten expected and hoped that the mouse would just sleep until this time tomorrow.
As comfy as his couch was, it wasn't good for a whole day and night of sleeping. Nall quietly approached Carrow, looking fondly at the little one; he'd really managed well today, and the marten hoped to make a big difference. Gentle gingery paws slid under the field mouse, lifting him and the blanket up from the couch; Nall's long tail wrapped around him a couple of times, soft and clingy, the tip tucking under his head to act as a pillow. Carrow was relaxed, loose and not fidgeting, though his head moved about and he nuzzled the tip of the fuzzy tail, chewing softly on it.
As Nall took a few steps, the mouse squeaked and stretched his feet and tail, eyes faintly open as he looked like he might come out of his sleep. The marten had been gentle, but hadn't expected to wake him. So, he did the first thing that came to mind, which was to sing. Words and sounds came together in the tune of an old lullaby, as Nall closed his eyes and rocked Carrow back and forth in his embrace of arms and tail. He whispered and sang of the forest at night, the wind around the tall trees and the low light through the leaves; improvising, he told of a sleepy mouse with a long journey ahead, and a long time to rest. Swirly spirals were visible in the tired mouse's eyes, the trance hadn't really left him in such a short time.
"Just taking a little one to bed, no need to wake. Drift, and relax, and sleep. Close your eyes and get your rest. I'll see you once you're awake."
The marten rocked him as he walked, soft strides buffered by the pads on his feet. Carrow's eyes fully closed and then remained so, which made Nall sigh in happy relief; that was close. A door clicked and opened ahead of him as the fuzzy mustelid gestured with his foot, beyond which was a quiet recovery room; still treehouse-patterned, with two single beds of bamboo and a pair of cloth hammocks hanging from the ceiling, a shower enclosure in one corner, and big palm fronds to soften the light. The mouse was set down fully clothed in one of the beds, aligned on the pillow as Nall gently freed his tail from Carrow's mouth. Then, the marten drew the bed's duvet up to under the mouse's chin, and laid the fuzzy blanket from earlier on top. He looked cosy, and not disturbed from the little trip, and Nall was content.
Okay, almost content.
Nall's hands gestured and traced above the bed, as from thin air he gathered Carrow's plain clothing. A few acts of prestidigitation had those tidied up, and he set them on a table by the bed for the mouse ready for later. These were joined by a bottle of water, and some biscuits, and a few squares of chocolate. Now he was satisfied.
The marten smiled, and headed back out of the room, leaving Carrow Brisby the field mouse to enjoy a long, restful sleep.
The last of my uploads for now: a long story commission for carrowbrisby, of his field mouse visiting Nall for a hypnotherapy session, and what happened before and during that. Tagged for depictions of anxiety and depression, hypnosis and hypnotherapy and spirals and shiny lights, and Nall being particularly intimate and caring.
Very fond of this one, gets a bit intense but it's up with my favourites now. Hope you enjoy it!
I've been focusing on Nall's wild feral mischievous side for a while, but he is a familiar and he does have his gentler moments, so it was nice to come back to that as well. ^^
(Also on FA: https://www.furaffinity.net/view/23804423/ )