Something so bad, so disgusting and dangerous was creeping after him, getting closer no matter how fast he ran. Artemis knew that a single touch of this monstrosity could do horrible things to him. "No!" He shouted without turning back. He had no time to do that and no will to look at what was running after him. "No! No-no-no!" Feeling the breath of the monster on his back the boy used all what he had, but couldn’t avoid the inevitable. With the feeling of a touch to his back the feline boy screamed and sat up on his bed. The darkness of his bedroom had no signs of a danger. "That nightmare... again..." Artemis breathed out, looking down at his shaking sweaty hands, then at the crumbed bedsheet beneath. He felt back onto his pillow, staring at the ceiling above, exhausted, tired, but unable to sink back into a relaxing dream. Or rather being afraid to do so. Because deep in his soul Artemis felt that if he allow himself to fall asleep then this nightmare will come back once again. He had something that could help him to rest well tonight, but it was a bitter medicine. And as anything that goes with consequences Artemis couldn’t just easily accept it. He hesitated, he thought he could deal with his problem on its own. He spent almost half of an hour convincing himself that he's strong and brave enough to deal with his nightmare without any help. But he knew he was wrong. With another deep sigh he got out of his bed and picked up a phone, calling someone from the list. After a few minutes of waiting his call was answered.
"It's me... I know it's 1AM, I'm sorry... Yes, yes, it happened again. Yes, I'll be waiting. Thank you." A weak smile of gratitude appeared on Artemis' lips after he hang up. He was glad that the other person agreed to help, but was also nervous about the way of this help. It wasn't the first time he asked for it and he knew its price.
After waiting for quite a while Artemis finally heard the doorbell and hurried to meet the guest, still dressed in his boxers only. He was too worried to care about anything, including his look. "Hello, Doc. Sorry again for calling, but..."
"It's okay, Arty..." Artemis winced. He didn't like to be called so and to have his speech interrupted. But the guest was one of few to whom the blue feline could forgive it. "... I know how stressful it is for you. I don't blame you." The guest raised his orange-furried hand and ruffled Artemis' hair. He smiled a little, accepting the care and letting the person it. It was a tall slim tiger, almost a feet taller than Artemis, with gorgeous short brown hair waiving around his head and with a kind, but slightly mischievous look of his blue eyes. The tiger was dressed casually in dark blue pants and loose green shirt. Artemis liked his formal outfit a little more, but seems the tiger used it only during his work time, probably not liking strict outfits. Artemis never asked him about this. The tiger walked in, feeling comfortable as he already knew the boy's place after visiting it for a few times before. Bringing a large bag with him the tiger went straight to Artemis' bedroom.
"Was it just like before? The same nightmare?" The tiger asked on the go.
"Yes. I've been running from it again. But it reached me anyway." The feline boy replied, looking as the older male placing his bag on the floor and pulling the blanket off the bed, exposing the crumbled bedsheet.
"Dry. It's good." Artemis turned away at this replica, hiding his purple blush.
"Can we just... I dunno... Simplify this?" The blue feline boy hurried to insert a word before the tiger got any further. "I mean... Doctor Terinas, we did it a few times before. And it got at least a little better. Maybe I we could go without some of the stuff?" With hope in his purple eyes he looked up at the tiger.
"Oh, Arty, if it was so simple..." Dr. Terinas sighed. "But psychological trauma you've got during your last mission isn't something that can be healed as easily as a paper cut. You need to experience the full spectrum of the right emotions and feelings to learn how to deal with it. Without even a small part of It the whole treatment won't be efficient at all!" The tiger stepped toward the boy and put the hands on his shoulders. "With me you have nothing to worry about, Arty. I'm your psychoanalyst and it's my job to make you feel safe. Believe me, I know what's better for you." The tiger smiled and after a short moment of hesitation Artemis smiled back and nodded. "That's a good kitten! Now let's get you ready."
Dr. Terinas kneeled near his back and pulled out a large plastic package. "Big boy's diapers" the title was saying. Seven of nine drops, quite thick and protective ones, those adult diapers were designed for those, who wanted to feel a little younger than they were. The picture on the pack demonstrated a diaper painted with cartoonish pictures of cars, planes and trains – mostly boyish themes. "You've must been running out of your stocks so I bought your favorite ones." The tiger smiled warmly, but with a hint of teasing, while opening the pack and pulling one diaper out of it. "Now where's the rest of your gear, little soldier? Hid it somewhere again?"
Artemis pinned his ears down, feeling more and more weak and helpless with every word Dr. Terinas was saying. But strangely it was helping him to feel more relaxed. He wasn't enjoying this, of course! How a brave agent, a protector of people's peace could enjoy such humiliating situation? He simply followed instructions of his psychoanalyst for the sake of treatment. And as soon as it'll be over he'll get rid of any item that represented his weakness. Artemis was thinking of this while pulling a simple cardboard box from under his bed. Every boy had a similar box under their beds, full of shameful materials like porn magazines or naughty toys. Artemis' box was filled with something shameful as well. "Good boy! Now get yourself ready while I'm preparing a treat for you." Dr. Terinas nodded, seeing the blue feline opens the box and takes a simple, but comfy red cotton onesie out of it. Saying that, the tiger went out, leaving the boy alone in the bedroom.
Artemis felt awkward even by looking at this piece of clothing, but he had to admit – it felt nice wearing it. It wasn't as snug and tight as his uniform, but was warmer and softer than anything he ever wore. The boy pulled onesie over his head, feeling the soft fabric enveloping his body, already starting to do its magic. He pulled it all the way down his crotch and only then took his boxers off. He glanced at the folded up diaper that Dr. Terinas left for him. Hmph! It would be so embarrassing for a proud feline to wear such thing! So thick, decorated with the silly prints... Artemis suddenly felt curious about it. Well, of course he didn't want to put it on! Maybe only to look closer...
"Ah-ah-ah! That's my part of the job, kitten!" The tiger returned, seeing the blue feline reaching for the diaper. The older man smiled widely, but without condemnation. "You know the rules. Lay down and I'll take care of everything."
Artemis pouted, feeling his cheeks getting even hotter than before. The tiger was saying it as if the boy wanted to do something as stupid as diapering himself! What a nonsense! "IS it really nectary? I'm not a baby and..."
"Hush, kitten! We've discussed it for many times." Artemis was interrupted once again. "You need to feel every bit of the treatment. And moments like this are especially important. So stop your tantrum and let me do my job."
Without any joy Artemis went to lay his back down on the bed, spreading his legs wide apart, perfectly knowing what will happen next. And just as he expected the tiger unfolded the diaper and slid it under the kitten's rear before powder his crotch with talcum that he found in the cardboard box.
"See? Nothing to worry about. Now just pull it up aaand..." Dr. Terinas wrapped the diaper over Artemis' crotch and taped it up perfectly, making it sit snug and comfy around the boy's waist. After that the older feline buttoned up the crotch of the red onesie and gave a pat over the bulging padding on the bottom. "... all done! Now you're safe to go to bed."
The tiger helped Artemis to get comfortable in the bed and covered him with the blanket, leaving the room again, but just to return a moment later with something that made the purple eyes of feline boy shine. Milk! Warm tasty milk! That was something amazing, something that the boy could never refuse, even if it was pureed in a baby bottle with a rubber tear on. Knowing that perfectly Dr. Terinas carefully plopped the milk-leaking teat between Artemis' lips and instantly heard him starting to suck happily. "Thatta boy! Now how about a bedtime story?" Without waiting for an answer, the tiger pulled out a small book out of his bag and sat down on the edge of the bed. Giving a quick glance at the blue feline, Dr. Terinas saw him radiating happiness and comfort and then started to read.
What was that feeling? Artemis tried to find the word, but his mind wasn't able to think straight from it. A pleasure? A bliss? These words were too weak to describe it. It was so against his nature. He was running from it for as long as he remembered himself. Helplessness. Weakness. He was always looking for strength to protect himself and everyone around. It was his only purpose – to get stronger, to get read of his weaknesses. Then why he was enjoying this moment so much? Being weak, being taken care of... Right, he wasn't alone. He could hear the warm and friendly voice of another man even while his mind was slowly sinking into the land of dreams. He was love and protected. It was something that he almost never felt before. And never in the way like now. Bereft of childhood, forced to step into the harsh world and deal with it on its own... Artemis was finally allowed to experience the joy of innocence. He liked it.
"... and they lived long and happily. The end." Saying with a soft and quiet voice, the tiger finished and took one more look at Artemis. The boy was already asleep, showing no sign of nightmare agony on his face. Dr. Terinas could swear that the boy was seeing only sweet dreams now. Making no sound, the man pulled two more things out of the "naughty box" of Artemis. He took his now empty milk bottle away and instead gave him a pacifier, attaching it to a rope around the onesie's collar. The other thing was a night light. He put it into a slot near the boy's bed, letting a smooth orange glow to fill the room. "Sleep well, kitten." Dr. Terinas smiled, turning off the main light and leaving the room.
"Thank you for taking care of our agent, Doctor." Terinas heard the voice from his cellphone while walking back to his home. It was half hour after he left Artemis' home.
"That's really nothing! Besides, the agency insurance covers it up."
"Yes, we pay you good money to keep our agents mentally healthy." The voice got even more serious. "And speaking of it... What are the forecasts?"
The tiger stopped. His heavy sigh was heard by the person on the other end of the phone. "I doubt he could fully recover after such deep trauma. But I'll do everything to minimize the consequences and train him to accept the relaxation procedure. I can assure you it won't affect his working qualities."
The voice in the phone was silent for a while. "Very well. Keep working with him. He's a very promising agent and we don't want to lose him." After that phrase the call ended.
"Next time I'll teach him how to play with plushies..." The tiger smiled to himself while whispering those words and continued his walk.