Quint’s POV during the fridge scene:
I have to admit that once I got over the shock, seeing Theo standing in all that mess was extremely amusing. But from the frustration in his voice, I knew that laughing or even smiling would, at best, result in him refusing to speak to me, and at worst would probably necessitate ducking a projectile. Theo’s sense of humor completely vanishes when he’s that angry, so I bit my tongue and used the trip to the dog crate to get my amusement under control.
However, when he started off the explanation of what happened by saying he was “only trying to make dinner”, I nearly lost it again. Not trusting myself to speak and hold in the laughter at the same time, I simply waited for him to continue. I’m sure if he’d been less distracted by the liquid still dripping off him, he’d have noticed that I was using my hand to hide a hint of a smile, under the guise of rubbing my chin. His tone of voice, though, warned me that something more serious was going on. It wasn’t the annoyed, profanity-filled rant I expected. Instead, he sounded disconsolate. I had a feeling that his reaction to the events had been amplified by something else, but what? And how should I react to avoid worsening the situation?
I was still trying to decide when he answered the question for me, by suggesting he go to the corner. Yes, it was said sarcastically, but I’ve learned through experience that when Theo brings up the possibility of discipline himself, it’s because he feels he needs it — however subconsciously — and unless I have a serious objection to the direction he’s heading in, it’s better that I let him lead me. But the corner wouldn’t do. Most of the glass was between him and it, and I didn’t want to risk him getting cut, or spread the mess any more. I got him situated with his nose to the kitchen wall and left him to calm down as much as possible while I cleaned up. I did almost laugh again, imagining what he must have looked like when the shelves gave out, but I managed to turn it into a cough.
From the tense way he was holding himself as he stood there, I knew that he would be crossing his arms over his chest if I’d let him. Not as a gesture of defiance, but protection; blocking the outside world, me included, from getting in. Something was definitely wrong, and he was only barely holding himself together out of a refusal to acknowledge it. Sometimes Theo needs an excuse to cry.
So I gave him one. It didn’t take him long — less time than I expected, really — to let go. I stopped immediately when I heard the first sob and rubbed his back, feeling all the tension going from his body. For form’s sake, I asked him about what the spanking was ostensibly for, and then let him up. He still tried taking evasive action when I probed deeper, but the first barrier was already breached and eventually I got the whole story out of him. It was delivered in an apathetic tone that I didn’t particularly care for, and with a complete lack of eye contact, but he was first to bring up the subject of therapy. I decided to be thankful for small mercies.
Then he made a comment which he knew very well would result in a swat, so I judged that he was recovered sufficiently that a bit of teasing would be beneficial rather than detrimental. I got him to reluctantly laugh at himself, and then suggested we spend the evening at the local movie theater. Heaven only knows, I needed the distraction as well.