It’s Day 16 of my Season of Cheer Blogging Challenge and today’s story is the second part of Needles, Yarn and Gingerbread. Daniel and Nico, the boys Jack and Gareth have adopted, have a school project involving teamwork. And after discovering Nico with knitting needles, Jack wants to hear all about it.
“Okay, you got me,” Jack returned to the kitchen in a fog of incredulity. As always when he felt as if his mind wasn’t firing on all cylinders he headed for the coffeemaker. Only to find his favourite beverage already dripping into the glass carafe, pitch-black, hot, and delicious. “Good call,” he nodded, and poured a large mug. “Now tell me what this is all about.”
Daniel sighed and pulled out a chair at the kitchen table, sitting next to Jack. “You know we had the Business Studies Open Day on Thursday, right? One of the speakers was going on about alienation, and how social media makes us less social and stuff. He was saying that a lot of us start work not understanding teamwork and community spirit and we all discussed that. And then, Mr. Gulliver suggested we all find a project to do that needed teamwork to complete and would benefit either the team or a group of people outside the team.”
“Interesting.” Jack sipped his coffee. He liked to watch the boys’ minds at work. It was obvious that Daniel didn’t agree with the speaker, but he was doing his best not to let that disagreement colour how he told Jack about it. “You think he’s wrong.”
“I think so. Actually, most of us did. It’s easy to blame social media. But you can be just as lonely without social media. It depends on the people you hang with.”
“I buy that. But that isn’t what’s bothering you.”
For a heartbeat or two, Daniel looked startled. “You already know.”
“Not what is bothering you. Only that something is.”
“Well, yeah. You’re right. I thought… I thought Nico and I would do something together. But he’s…” He waved a hand in the general direction of their room and Jack couldn’t hold back a smile.
“I think the correct term is knitting.”
“I know that. But how’s knitting a team effort? He’s just sitting by himself knotting bits of string together!”
“Have you asked him?”
“He could have told me.”
“Of course, he could. But you’re the one who wants to know, and you didn’t ask. I suppose you didn’t mention cooking something together, either. Am I right?” Daniel’s cheeks were pink by that point and Jack made sure he didn’t sound as amused as he felt. “Maybe, if you’d told him about your cooking idea—”
“What cooking idea?”
Gareth stood in the kitchen doorway and Jack shot him a warning look. He even added a very quick ‘caution’ sign when Daniel wasn’t looking his way and smiled at the sleepy blink Gareth gave him in response. There was nothing sleepy about Gareth Flynn. He probably hadn’t needed Jack’s warning, either.
“All good at Nancarrow?” He asked as Gareth ditched his briefcase and brought a bag into the kitchen.
“Nancarrow’s fine. Frazer and Janet are having a blast chasing down all the leads you’re sending them. And I want you to check at four that they’re not still making mayhem.”
“Will do.” Jack bent over his slate, wondering how Gareth would handle Daniel. He didn’t think it was an ego thing, precisely, but Daniel was used to Nico following along with his suggestions. Nico going off on a tangent of his own had clearly come as a surprise.
Gareth didn’t push. He unpacked his haul from Rachel’s deli and poured himself a cup of coffee before he joined them at the table.
“So what was that about a cooking idea?”
Daniel shrugged. He’d been mulling over Jack’s comment, but he didn’t let Gareth wait long for an answer to his question. He repeated his story, but instead of bemoaning Nico’s strange choice of project as he had with Jack, he didn’t mention it at all. “I’m… not sure what to cook that’s particularly a team effort,” he admitted to Gareth. “I mean, we do cook together, but…”
“It’s more because we both enjoy it rather than because it needs two of us,” Gareth agreed.
“What about a house?” Jack threw in, the words out of his mouth before the idea had fully registered.
“Yeah.” Jack waved a hand aimlessly. “The Hansel and Gretel kind. Don’t you bake all the walls, and roof, and such separately and then put it together and decorate it later? I’m sure I’ve seen them sell kits or something. Why don’t you make one of those? We design it together. You bake it. And we can all help build and decorate it.”
“And eat it, of course. Which is the way it’s meant to be done, anyhow,” Gareth chipped in. “Aidan’s the expert, though, so we can rope him in to help if we need it.”
“Why is Aidan an expert on gingerbread houses?” Nico asked from the doorway.
Jack waited for Gareth to turn. And then he had to stop himself from cracking up as Gareth’s jaw dropped when he saw Nico holding knitting needles and fluffy yarn.
…. to be continued
Seasons of Cheer is my blogging challenge for this year. Every day during December I’m aiming to post a story, snippet or outtake. A moment to stop and draw breath during a month that’s usually crazy busy.
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Midnight Tracks, a collection of shorts, snips, and outtakes from the first five Power of Zero books, including an exclusive Christmas short story you won’t find anywhere else – delivered to your inbox on Christmas Eve. 🙂