Title: Everyone Needs A Hobby
Author's Name: Laura Sichrovsky
Word Count: 3186
Spoilers: None really.
Summary: When John tries to teach Sherlock something. Sherlock tries John's patience.
Disclaimer: This is where I put the statement saying that I do not own John or Sherlock, (Heh! I wish!), or anything relating to the show or books. No one is paying me to do this and if you feel the sudden urge to send me gifts, you might want to talk to someone about that. Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat own all things Sherlock and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle owns the rights to Holmes and Watson. None of them have given me permission to use these characters as I have so if you have problems with the story, please send the pretzel bombs to me, not them.
Author's Notes: I was talking to one of my betas last night and she told me that she knits. Now, I have a huge respect for people who do that, because I can't. Not from lack of trying, but because I don't have the patience for it and I've been called a menace with knitting needles. As I was explaining to her why I hate it and how bad I really am, this story dropped in whole.
Thanks need to be given, and here is where they go. Thanks to Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat for giving me a Sherlock I can get behind. Thanks to Benedict Cumberbatch for making this Sherlock so amazing. I tried to fight it, but he was just too remarkable not to fall for. Big thank yous to Emma de los Nardos and Gemma for the super-fast beta jobs and the real-time feedback and all the knitting advice. Your input was invaluable and I owe you both so much! And my biggest thank yous to my biggest influence and my best friend, Ann. She's the best beta ever and without her, I am nothing. (Couldn't do it without you, love. Wouldn't want to try.)
This one is for Emma. Thank you for putting it in my head. :)
Everyone Needs A Hobby
John is settled in on the sofa with the television on. He's not sure what the program is, as he's not really watching it; he just wants it on for background noise. John looks down, frowning, concentrating completely on what he's doing with his hands. It's a project he's been working on for about two weeks now and he really hoped it would be further along. But he hasn't had much downtime lately, with the upsurge of flu patients at the clinic and the two cases he and Sherlock have just finished.
John shifts, getting more comfortable, losing himself in the gentle movements of his hands. Slowly, he shuts down all the random thoughts about Sherlock and Sarah and annoying cabbies and criminals who smuggle drugs up monkey bums. John's breathing slows a bit and he smiles. This project is really starting to take shape. He was right about the color, it will work perfectly with Sherlock's eyes. All of John's attention is on what he's doing, so he doesn't notice when Sherlock comes in the kitchen door and he's completely shocked when a voice cuts into his world of calm.
"John, what are you doing?"
John jumps about a mile and looks up, his eyes wide. He glances down at his lap and then back up at Sherlock, trying not to blush.
"Well, you see…"
"John Watson, are you…knitting?"
There's something in Sherlock's tone that gets John's ire up and all his embarrassment is gone. John turns the television off and looks at Sherlock, feeling just a bit combative.
"Yes, I'm knitting. What of it?"
"Why?" Sherlock asks, walking into the room and tossing his coat over a chair. He perches on the arm of the chair, staring at John, his face contemplative. "Is this some sort of doctor thing?"
"No, it's not," John says with a sigh. He shakes his head and goes back to his knitting. "After my shoulder injury…well, you know I was depressed."
Sherlock simply nods and John goes on.
"The usual physical therapy wasn't helping as much as it could because I wasn't really participating. I'd lie there and let them move my arm for me. Everything just felt so pointless; I felt so pointless." He looks up at Sherlock who is just watching him, his expression unreadable. "One of my nurses also worked in a unit for premature babies. One day when she was sitting and talking to me, she was knitting. I asked her what it was and she was making a hat for one of the babies. Infants lose a lot of body heat through their heads and the hats help keep them warm. About that time, my physical therapist walked in. She watched me watching the nurse and the next thing I knew, she was saying that knitting might be a good way to help my shoulder."
"So the nurse taught you to knit?" Sherlock asks.
"She did. And she made sure I'd do it by having me knit hats for the babies." John shrugs at Sherlock. "It was good to do something for someone else. It wasn't easy to learn and my hands shook sometimes, but I felt useful again. Especially after the nurse wheeled me up to the NICU and I saw babies wearing hats I'd knitted for them. Made me want to keep doing it, which also got me interested in other things."
"That's not a baby hat," Sherlock says, gesturing to John's knitting.
"No, it's not," John agrees, saying nothing more.
"You obviously aren't still knitting for therapy. You don't need to do it anymore, so why are you?" Sherlock looks a bit frustrated, like the pieces of the puzzle just aren't fitting together.
"Turns out that I enjoy knitting," John says, pulling more yarn loose from the skein. "And I'm pretty good at it. I've actually knitted a couple of my jumpers."
"Be nice," John warns. "It wasn't my hobby that set the kitchen table on fire."
"You have a point," Sherlock acknowledges.
"Besides, I find it relaxing," John says, leaning back on the couch. "It shuts off all the noise in my head."
"It does?" Sherlock looks up at him, his head tilted a bit in curiosity.
"It does," John replies with a nod. "I concentrate on the movement of my fingers, the click of the needles, the count of the stitches. It allows me to put my thoughts in order and shut out all the clutter. And it helps keep my brain quiet and stops my thoughts from running away or going dark."
John looks up to see that Sherlock is staring at him and John wonders what sarcastic comment is coming next. He sighs.
"Oh, what? Just say it. But, I swear, if you call me 'grandma' I might shove this knitting needle up your nose."
Sherlock shakes his head and John frowns.
"Could you teach me?" Sherlock asks quietly.
"I…" John blinks, his mind is coming up blank. "What?"
"Could you teach me to knit?" Sherlock asks again.
"Why?" John says. "A minute ago you were teasing me over it."
"You said it quiets your thoughts," Sherlock replies, his expression reflective. "That might be a useful skill to have."
John isn't sure whether he's talking about the knitting or the ability to quiet his thoughts, but either one would be a good thing.
"Are you serious?" John asks, looking up at Sherlock.
"Yes. I'll knit whatever you want me to. We can start with a baby hat if you'd like."
"Let's start simple," John says, not at all sure about this. "Why don't we try a baby blanket and see how you do?"
"A blanket is easier?"
"It's all straight lines," John replies with a smile.
"When can we start?"
Three days later, John sits down on the couch with Sherlock, a bag of supplies between them.
"Which color yarn do you want to use?" he asks Sherlock.
"I get a choice?" Sherlock seems surprised.
"Of course you get a choice. I have five different colors."
Sherlock looks in the bag, studying the yarn contemplatively. After a minute he frowns and looks at John.
"Which one would the babies like better?"
"I'm not sure the babies will care, Sherlock, as long as the blanket's warm."
"You aren't making this easy."
There's a pout forming at the edges of Sherlock's lips and John suddenly has visions of Sherlock getting frustrated and taking it out on the wall with the knitting needles.
"Why don't you go with the blue?" John asks, handing Sherlock the yarn skein. "Everyone likes blue."
"That's true," Sherlock says nodding, taking the yarn from John. "Molly told me her favorite color is blue and she's a girl. Yes, I like the blue."
First disaster averted. John mentally shakes his head, not daring to do it out loud.
"Now, here are your needles." John hands Sherlock two green metal needles with white plastic tops.
"John, these aren't needles," Sherlock says, looking at them closely. "I have needles that I use for my experiments. You couldn't puncture anything with these."
"No, they aren't really needles. That's just what they call them." John looks at Sherlock and sees his eyebrows come together." "And before you ask, no, I don't know why they call them that."
Sherlock makes a face at John and goes back to studying the needles.
"What are these numbers at the top?" Sherlock asks. "It says 7 and then 4.5 mm. I get the millimeters, but what's the seven?"
"That's the American designation for the needle size," John says, wondering how they get off on these tangents. "The smaller the number, the smaller the circumference of the needle."
"Hence the smaller the stitch," Sherlock says, nodding. "And the smaller the stitch, the smoother the blanket. Why do I need to know this, John?"
"Because you asked about the number on the needle," John reminds him. "And that's why the number is there."
"Ahhh," Sherlock responds. "Now do we get to the actual knitting?"
"Now we get started," John says. "First we have to tie a slipknot, so the yarn will stay on the needle."
"Sounds simple enough," Sherlock replies, nodding. He makes a slipknot and holds it up. "Now what?"
"Put your needle through the loop and pull it tight."
"That's it?" Sherlock asks.
"For the getting started, yes," John says. "Now we need to add yarn to the needles so we have something to knit with."
"How do I do that?" Sherlock asks.
"Take the yarn and drape it over your thumb and forefinger."
"Why?" Sherlock asks. "I'm not knitting with my thumb and forefinger."
"Yes, but this is how we get the yarn on the needle."
"I use my thumb and forefinger?" Sherlock asks, frowning.
"Just follow me on this?" John says with a sigh.
Sherlock shrugs, then takes the yarn and drapes it so it looks just like John's. He looks up expectantly.
"You've got to hold the hanging parts with your little finger and ring finger."
"They'll pull lose if you don't," John says.
"And I don't want them to?"
"No, you don't." John moves on. "Now, take your needle, use the tip to pull the loop into a V."
"Why does this seem unnecessarily complicated?" Sherlock asks.
"I don't see that it does," John replies.
"You sew people back together for a living," Sherlock says, rolling his eyes. "Compared to taking out someone's appendix, I'm sure this is easy."
"Sherlock, we haven't even gotten started. Are you sure you want to do this?"
"You assure me it's relaxing, so yes, I want to try. Show me again what I do." John shows him again and he can hear Sherlock muttering. "You can tell a woman thought this up."
"Okay, so you have the V pulled down?"
"Yes, I have my V," Sherlock sighs, holding it up for John to see.
"Alright, notice how that makes the yarn wrap around your thumb?" At Sherlock's nod, John continues. "Poke the needle up along your thumb, through that loop."
"Through the loop, Sherlock, not through your thumb."
"Yes, thank you for that," Sherlock says, glaring at John. "I take back my statement that these things can't puncture anything."
"Are you okay?" John asks, concerned.
"Fine," Sherlock snaps. "Now what?"
"Are you sure?" John asks. "Maybe I should look at it."
"John, it was a knitting needle, not a harpoon. I'm sitting here with yarn wrapped around my fingers and a metal rod against my thumb. While this could be entertaining on its own, I really would like to know what to do next."
John is impressed with how much sarcasm Sherlock fits into those few sentences.
"If you're sure," John says. At Sherlock's terse nod, he goes on. "Now, turn the needle so it's pointing towards your little finger, bring it around so it goes under that yarn that's over your index finger, then bring it back through the hole that your thumb is in from the top."
"What?" Sherlock looks at him like he's gone insane. "That's…why would I do this?"
"It's how you add yarn to the needle. Watch me again."
John goes over it four times before Sherlock gets it, but he finally does, pulling his thumb out of the loop and tightening the yarn on the needle. He looks up at John, who smiles in approval.
"John, tell me this gets easier."
"It does," John assures him.
"Why do I have two needles?"
"We're getting to that."
John walks him through the setup and then they bring in the second needle to begin the knitting.
"This isn't too complicated," Sherlock says, frowning. "But when does the relaxing part come in?"
"As you get better at it, you have to concentrate on it less," John says with a smile. "Oh, wait, you dropped a stitch."
Sherlock looks at the floor, slightly alarmed.
"I dropped what?"
"No, a stitch," John says, trying not to laugh. "One slipped off your needle and you're going to have a gap if you don't fix it."
John walks Sherlock back through undoing some of his knitting to fix the mistake. He notices that Sherlock's started shifting around on the couch.
"Sherlock, are you okay?"
"I'm fine." It's practically a growl. "Can we take a break now?"
"We've only been knitting for about fifteen minutes," John says.
"That's about twelve minutes too long." Sherlock grouses. "How can you sit still for so long?"
"Sherlock, I've seen you lie on the couch for hours without moving."
"Of course it is," John says, smiling at Sherlock. "Okay, why don't we get to the end of this row and then we'll stop and have tea."
"As long as I don't have to make it," Sherlock grumbles.
"As if I'd drink anything you made." John says, rolling his eyes.
"I make excellent tea," Sherlock says defensively.
"I'm sure you do, but you brew it in the same kettle that you mix poisons in."
"I wash it first."
"Yes, that makes me feel so much safer," John says. He looks over and frowns. "Sherlock, your stitches are too loose. You need to pull the yarn tighter."
"But I like it this way," Sherlock says. "It looks…unique."
"It looks like it'll come apart. And if it doesn't, a baby might get his fingers caught in it."
"Then I won't give it to a baby," Sherlock says, his voice sounding tight. "I'll keep it for myself, okay?"
"Okay, calm down," John soothes.
A few minutes later, John sees dramatic movement in his peripheral vision and turns to see Sherlock wildly moving his needles about.
"What are you doing?"
"I thought this might make it more interesting." Sherlock says with a sigh.
"Well, stop it, you're going to take an eye out. Smaller stitches, Sherlock."
"Didn't help anyway," Sherlock mumbles. "When does the relaxing, mind-clearing part start?"
"Like I said, it comes with practice," John replies, not looking up.
"This is taking forever," Sherlock complains. "I'm bored. And now I find that I'm thinking of horrible things I could do to you for talking me into this."
"It was your idea!" John exclaims.
"Yeah, not really caring about that right now."
"Oh, for the love of…" John takes a deep breath. "If you don't like it, don't do it."
"But then I won't get to the relaxing part." Sherlock looks at his knitting project and frowns. "John?"
"This doesn't look like a blanket. This doesn't really look like anything."
"And it won't for a while," John answers. "It'll look more like a blanket the closer you get to finishing it."
"How long should that take?" Sherlock asks.
"Until it's done? Depends on how often you work on it and how fast you knit. Maybe a couple of weeks?"
Sherlock's eyes go wide and he looks distressed.
"A couple of weeks? You expect me to do this for a couple of weeks?" Sherlock's face pulls into a pout. "Isn't there a shortcut?"
"I'm sorry, but there isn't," John replies.
Sherlock sits for a minute and then he puts the knitting down on the couch and stands up.
"Is there something wrong?" John asks.
"I'm done knitting," Sherlock says, heading for the kitchen.
"But I thought you wanted to do this for the calm."
"I did," Sherlock calls and John can hear him rummaging around in the cupboards. "But I think I'll take up something less stressful, like defusing bombs."
"Not your thing?" John calls, trying not to smile.
"No, not really." Sherlock comes in carrying a plate of biscuits. "You said it would clear my head. But if I keep knitting the only way I'll clear my head is with your revolver. No, I think I'll leave the knitting to you."
"I'm sorry it wasn't what you were picturing," John says.
"Things seldom are," Sherlock says with a shrug. "Didn't hurt to try it. But now I think I'll go back to my experiments. They might not clear my head, but they don't make me want to hurt someone."
John chuckles as Sherlock goes off into the kitchen humming to himself.
A couple of weeks later John is in the sitting room updating his blog. Lightning flashes and a couple seconds later a roll of thunder makes the building vibrate. John frowns, saving his work and shutting down his computer. Better to be safe than to fry his hard drive. He hears the front door open and the stomping up the stairs can only mean Sherlock's home.
"God, it's wet out there," Sherlock says tossing his coat on the couch as he comes in. "Tell me that you have some tea ready."
"I don't," John replies. At Sherlock's pout, he smiles. "But I can take care of it in just a minute, so if you can be a bit patient, you should have tea soon."
"I'll try to stave off the hypothermia until then," Sherlock says, setting into a chair. "So, what have you done today besides update your blog?"
"How did you know…?"
"Really, John." Sherlock rolls his eyes. "Your computer is on the floor next to your chair."
"Maybe I was checking my e-mail?"
"No, for some reason, you check e-mail and surf the net at the kitchen table. The only time you sit in that chair and type is when you update your blog."
"Yes, well then." John shakes his head.
"But that doesn't answer the question," Sherlock says, looking at him.
"What? Oh, right. Funny you should ask, really." John gets up and goes to Sherlock's desk. He picks up a package wrapped in blue paper and hands it to Sherlock.
Sherlock looks at it, turning it over in his hands.
"What's this?" he asks, quirking an eyebrow.
John shrugs and Sherlock gives him a quizzical look as he unwraps the package. Sherlock pulls out a fuzzy greenish blue ball, frowning at it. He unrolls it to find a soft, warm scarf. Sherlock's eyes go wide as he examines the scarf. He runs his fingers over it, nodding in approval and holds it to the light, studying the color. He looks at John.
"Thank you very much," Sherlock says, his voice telling John that he means it. "This is an excellent scarf. You did a great job. The stitches are even and there aren't any gaps. I can't believe how soft it is and I like the color. I think I'll wear it when we go to the symphony tomorrow. With my dark blue shirt?"
John is surprised at how appreciative Sherlock is being and gives him a questioning look. Sherlock shrugs and smiles sheepishly.
"Well, after earlier this week I have a greater appreciation for your knitting ability. Not to mention your patience levels."
"Who knew?" John says, suppressing a grin.
"Who knew what?"
"The whole knitting thing wasn't a complete failure. It might not have calmed you down, but it did teach you humility."
Sherlock makes an indelicate noise as John chuckles and goes off to make the tea.