John Watson has a secret.
It's nothing shameful or embarrassing, but it's not something John shares openly.
But one night, Sherlock is out doing something, who knows what, and he said he may be gone quite late, so John decides to indulge, and gets out his supplies.
John Watson is a secret knitter.
It's really not a big deal. His grandmother taught him one summer, when he was staying with her and it was raining so badly they couldn’t go out into the garden. To his surprise, he enjoyed it, and found he turned to it when he was under stress, or needed to be reminded of the warm woman who was always there for him when, between Harry and his father, life at home became unbearable.
Later, the skill proved useful in medical school, when he was the first student to master the interrupted stitch and, later, the mattress stitch. Unlike his colleagues, he never pulled too hard at the skin or, worse, tore it with aggressive stitches. His work scarred the least, until other students came to him for help when they sliced themselves open with a scalpel.
In the army, it was just as useful. The deserts of Afghanistan are remote, and the army never replaced anything until it became completely unserviceable. So, along with human flesh, John stitched up trousers, shirts, and blankets, and darned his share of socks. In the winter months, he taught his comrades to knit until everyone in the unit had mittens and hats.
But since his return to London, he hasn’t been able to indulge in his little private hobby, until tonight.
So, with Sherlock out of the way, John pulls out his needles and his yarn and gets to work. He’s selected a nice worsted, not too heavy, in mottled shades of blue and grey for this project, and needles of a medium gauge. He wants a smooth result, not too chunky, but with some weight to it.
Settling on the sofa, John turns the television to a mindless comedy and gets to work.
He knits smoothly, calmly, keeping the tension consistent. His strong fingers move confidently through the yarn, and as the comedy ends and a detective procedural begins, the finished project begins to pool in his lap.
He’s about three-quarters done when he hears the key in the lock. He freezes as Sherlock’s measured tread comes up the stairs.
John seriously considers hiding his little project, but where? Sherlock would find it, inevitably, and when he does, there would be questions. Really awkward questions. Besides, it’s too late now, he’s nearly at the top. So John sighs and continues to flick his fingers. He hopes his face is nonchalant.
“John? What’s this?” John closes his eyes briefly. Sherlock sounds… amused.
“Nothing,” he answers. “Just a little thing I’m working on.”
“You knit.” Oddly enough, he doesn’t sound surprised, and John can’t help flicking a gaze at him. Sherlock is standing beside him, looking faintly curious.
“I know, it’s not especially… manly,” John says. Sherlock makes a small, non-committal sound and sits beside him. John glances at him again. “What, no questions? No comments?”
Sherlock settles back on the sofa. “Not particularly. I know you can sew; you’ve patched up my trousers, not to mention myself, on more than one occasion. It seems this is a logical progression.”
They sit in companionable silence; Sherlock not even commenting on the idiocy of the television detectives for once. When it ends and the news comes on, John looks at Sherlock again. The detective is watching his progress.
“My gran taught me,” John volunteers. “Came in handy more than once.”
“I can imagine.” Sherlock looks at the television, but soon his gaze strays back to John’s hands. “Although, it seems…”
“Dull?” John supplies. Sherlock frowns.
“I wasn’t going to say it like that. I just meant, it seems an unusual hobby for a man of action.”
John smiles faintly. “It is, but I find it relaxing, really. It uses…” He closes his eyes. How to explain it? When he opens them, he sees Sherlock is looking at him, rather than his hands. His eyes are interested. “It uses a different part of the brain. A quiet part. So I have to concentrate, but not like when I’m working, or we’re running through London. It’s just… the rest of my brain goes to sleep, and I feel refreshed, later.” He feels as though he’s groping for an explanation, but Sherlock is nodding.
“I understand. Like the violin.” John feels relieved that he doesn’t have to explain further; he simply doesn’t have the words as to why this simple, domestic activity pleases him so.
“Exactly. But not so cultured, I’m afraid,” he teases. “Nothing a posh public-school brat like you would know.” He just can’t resist tweaking Sherlock about his past, especially since the detective lets him. He hears a short exhale as Sherlock chuckles.
“No, I suppose not. Mycroft and I had a nanny once, she knitted quite a lot, until I spilled acid on her dress and she threated to stab me with her needles.” He chuckles again at the memory, idly playing with the skein between them. “She left shortly thereafter.”
“Because of the acid?”
Sherlock smiles faintly at the memory. “Because of the mouse carcass. She had an excellent desk lamp, and I was using it to see my dissection, and I… forgot to clean up.”
John laughs out loud. “I bet you did! What did Mycroft say?”
There is a sniff beside him. “Nothing. He loathed her; she kept making him wear the horrid jumpers she knit. She made me wear them, too.”
John smiles as he watches his fingers. “Then I won’t knit you any jumpers, seeing as how you hate them. You certainly hate mine.”
“No, on you they work. On me…” Sherlock shudders. “I am not built for jumpers.” He has, John notices, dissected the skein and is now holding his hands about ten inches apart, the yarn wrapped around them. When John raises an eyebrow, he shrugs. “I had to do this for her. She said it kept me out of trouble.”
They sit in silence again, the only sounds the faint hum of the news from the television and the click of John’s needles. John (he admits privately to himself) is in awe that Sherlock hasn’t picked his yarn apart or scrunched everything up in his long hands, or even given a long-suffering sigh. Instead, he seems peaceful, watching John’s hands or his face.
Finally, as the news winds down and John’s watch chirps eleven pm, he decides his work is done and asks Sherlock to hand him the long yarn-needle on the coffee table. Easing the yarn off his hands carefully, the detective does so, as John bites off the end. He threads the needle carefully and neatly stitches up the end. Sherlock watches silently.
When he’s done, John puts the needle back on the table and turns back to Sherlock. “Close your eyes,” he says. Sherlock blinks, and closes them without question.
Swallowing hard, John doubles the scarf, and then puts it around Sherlock’s neck and puts the free ends through the loops, the way Sherlock likes it. “Now open,” he says softly.
When Sherlock complies, John swallows again. The length is perfect, and the colour, the colour is marvellous. It brings out the blue and grey tones in the detective’s eyes. It’s better than he hoped.
“It looks wonderful,” he manages. Sherlock is rubbing the scarf between his fingers in wonderment.
“This is for me?”
John can’t seem to stop swallowing; his mouth is very dry, for some reason. “Well, you snagged yours, and you were upset, and I thought, you could wear this one, and not worry about snagging it or anything, since really…” he trails off, then closes his eyes and finishes, “it didn’t cost anything.”
How long John sits there, with his eyes closed, he has no idea, but he opens them when he feels long fingers squeezing his hand. Sherlock is grasping his left hand with his right; the scarf is clutched in his other hand. “On the contrary, John,” he says, his eyes locked on John’s. “On the contrary. It is… more precious to me than anything I have ever received.” When John looks away, Sherlock squeezes his fingers tighter, and says, more quietly, “You solved a problem I didn’t know I had. You… saw a need, and you filled it.”
John looks their hands, and into Sherlock’s eyes. He sees gratitude there, and something undefinable. “I will treasure it always.”
Throughout their years together, John will knit Sherlock more scarves. He will knit him mittens, and gloves, and a cardigan, and even a hat with a bobble on it.
But he never knit a jumper.