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by Christi and Ryuu

Post-Learning Curve

The Yarn Shop was exactly what it sounded like, nothing more or less than a tiny, privately owned store located comfortably in the back corner of a strip mall in Colorado Springs. When Susan Quinn had opened it nearly twenty years ago, she never would have guessed that it would lead to all this – this being a successful business, more yarn than all the storage bins she could find would hold, and a set of regulars who never really seemed to leave.

Not that she was complaining, of course.

"So, it turns out that he seems to think all girls are into Avril which meant that dating him was a total lost cause," Frances continued, snipping off her old yarn and preparing to add in a new skein. "Which means I'm single again for the foreseeable future.”

"Being with someone is overrated," Kate muttered, trying to figure out how she'd somehow added a stitch to her hat.

"You just think that because you've been divorced two times," Frances pointed out.

"Shut up."


"Ladies! We promote peaceful knitting here," Sue interjected, trying not to smile.

From his place perched on the windowsill, Sue's one and only employee Andrew laughed. "Sue darling, sometimes it could not be more glaringly obvious that you learned how to knit in the sixties."

"Nothing wrong with a little serenity," Sue replied, as unruffled as before.

"It's too bad, though," Frances said, picking up the earlier conversation and looking wistful. "I mean, in leather pants, he's got a really great-"

"Okay! Who wants a brownie?" Sue interrupted.

"Ooo, I was wondering when our sugar fix of the day was going to be brought out," Andrew squealed.

"Well, someone has to feed you. Otherwise you'd all waste away, just sitting here in my shop and knitting yourselves straight into starvation."

"There are worse ways to go," Frances pointed out.

"You're worse than my grandmother, Sue," Kate pointed out.

“Yes, well, I provide free knitting help and you’re still a beginner, so I wouldn’t complain if I were you,” Sue replied calmly. “Besides, you could use a few pounds on you.” Kate’s typically high-strung nature tended to worry the pounds right off.

"Hey, hasn't that kid been here before?" Frances asked, tilting her head towards the window.

At even the mention of a new arrival, every head turned to gaze out the window. Sue squinted at the two figures approaching from the parking lot. "I think she was in sometime last week."

Andrew nodded. "She was. And she's a well-behaved little thing, too – didn't mess up the stock at all. Just eyed it for about fifteen minutes and then left."

"Is that her father?" Kate asked. "He's cute."

"I'm not sure cute is the right word," Andrew corrected, still staring. "More like...ruggedly fuc--"

"Andrew, stop staring and eat a brownie," Sue interjected.

“Yes, Mom.”

"Oh, stop it," she warned. "All of you, away from the window now. We don't want to scare the new customers before they even walk in the door."

"Too late," Frances quipped, sitting back in her seat with an audible plop. "Here they come."

“What are we doing again?” they could hear the stranger asking as he pulled open the door and held it for the young girl at his heels.

“We’re trying something new. Isn’t that what you taught that girl Merrin to do?”

“Those were slightly different circumstances,” he pointed out dryly. After receiving a glare from her, however, he shrugged. “Fine, fine. Lead the way, professor.” He took her hand and finally glanced around the store, visibly impressed. “I have to admit, this place is pretty great. Where did you find it?”

“An amazing thing called the Internet. Seeing as you live most of your life underground, I’m not surprised you haven’t heard of it.”

“Very funny, Cass.”

In silence, they all watched as the young girl calmly led the stranger over to the handspun section and pulled out a skein of brilliant green. “I want a sweater made out of this yarn.”

“This particular yarn? Why?”

"It's 100 percent silk."

This new bit of information seemed to intrigue the man, which caused Andrew to snicker a little under his breath. “Sucker,” he muttered.

Meanwhile, the stranger continued to eye the skein. "Really?” In a flash, he grabbed it, and soon his eyes had glazed over in a look Sue knew all too well – one of yarn-induced bliss. “Oh. Oh. That's nice."

From where she sat, Sue could see Frances shaking her dyed black locks. “Newbie.”

The man finally looked at the price tag and blanched slightly. "Are you sure a nice mohair wouldn’t be just as good?"

"I don't want a fuzzy sweater, Jack."

"Merino, then?"


The man now identified as Jack rolled his eyes. "You're becoming a menace, you know that?"

"Hey, at least I'm learning from the best."

Jack chuckled and reached out to ruffle her hair. "Got that right." With one more grumble, he began filling his basket with the skeins, and Sue couldn’t helped but be relieved that he at least had the sense to check the dye lots. "This will be the most expensive sweater ever made."

The girl patted his arm. "Don't put a price on love, Jack."

At this point, Sue really did feel obligated to point out something. “I hate to interrupt, but I just wanted to make sure you realized that the yarn you’ve selected is dry clean only.”

Although he didn’t seem perturbed by the interruption, Jack did not take this new bit of news well, wrinkling his nose and distractedly ruffling his hair with one hand. “I don’t suppose those dryer bags count?”

"You shouldn't use those. Fire hazard. Horrible," Kate piped in, not even pausing in her usual frenetic pace of circular knitting.

"Ignore her," Andrew laughed. "She forgot to take her happy pill this morning."

"My therapist said the knitting was supposed to help!" Kate insisted. "I just need to keep at it."

Across the room, Jack looked interested. "Your therapist made you knit? Mine too."

"Really? Do you find it helpful? Because personally, I miss Prozac."

Confusion clouded Jack's eyes temporarily – Kate often had that effect on people. "Oh. Um. No. My physical therapist. Something about appendix dexterity."

"Appendage, Jack,” the girl corrected.

"Oh, for arthritis?" Sue piped up cheerfully. "We have a few new knitters dealing with that. It's wonderful, isn't it?"

Apparently, this was also the wrong thing to say, judging from the faint frown that passed over Jack's face as he looked down at the girl. "Do I really look that old?"

She smothered a grin. "Well, only on your bad days."

He heaved a sigh. "Damn job is making me go gray. Remind me to quit."

"What, now you're senile, too?"

"I think the gray is distinguished actually," Andrew piped up, causing Frances to burst into a sudden, suspicious coughing fit.

"Er, thanks," Jack replied, eyeing the kid a bit warily. “Um, can one of you check us out?”

Sue nudged Andrew. "Go earn your keep."

"Yes, ma'am!" he replied, practically bouncing to the register.

By now, even Kate had looked up from her knitting to watch the spectacle. For her part, Sue just shook her head and reached across the table. "Would either of you like a brownie? They're homemade."

"Thanks!" the little girl exclaimed, her smile bright.

"Cassie," Jack warned. "We probably shouldn't." Sue found the warning amusing considering the way he was eyeing the plate himself.

"Don't be silly. Every new customer gets a free brownie," she assured him.

"See, Jack?" the now-named girl commented. "We don't want to be impolite, do we?"

"Well, when you put it that way..." he trailed off before grabbing one for each of them. "Just don't tell your mother."

"I never do," Cassie said cheerfully through a mouth of chocolate.

"Good." Jack nodded and took a bite, grinning. "I don't like it when she breaks out the big needles just for me."

Silence fell throughout the room, and it took him a few moments to notice the slightly horrified looks now aimed his way. Hastily, Jack swallowed and explained, "Uh, her mom is my doctor."

"Thank god," Sue distinctly heard Kate say in an undertone.

From behind the counter, Andrew cleared his throat. "Um, your total comes to $114.24. Would you like to pay by cash, check, or charge?"

Groaning, Jack handed Andrew a MasterCard. "Kid, this cannot happen too often. A poor little Colonel's salary can't handle it."

"You're in the military?" Sue asked, intrigued.

"Yes, ma'am. Air Force."

She considered. "Andrew, knock twenty-five percent off that total. Military discount."

"Thank you, ma'am," Jack replied, grinning.

Looking at his expression, Sue found that she couldn't help but return it. "Just promise me that you'll come back. No one will believe me when I tell them I've got a handsome knitting Air Force Colonel as a customer."

"Oh, we'll be back," Cassie assured her. "I saw this really pretty blue mohair that Sam would love."

"Is Sam your mother?" Sue asked, assuming, Andrew aside, that most men weren't going to be into blue mohair.

"No," Cassie smiled a bit.

“Oh, your girlfriend, then?” Sue asked, this time speaking to Jack.

He shifted a bit on his feet. “No, just a coworker.”

“Who knows Cassie?”

Cassie and Jack shared a quick look. "It's...complicated."

Sue nodded in understanding. "Some of the best things are. Just look at Kate."


"It was a compliment, dear."

"Sort of," Frances muttered.

"You're not exactly simple yourself, you know," Kate muttered, glaring a bit at Frances.

"Yeah, but I'm interesting," Frances answered, flicking a speck of dust from her Doc Martens and smirking.

"Enough, ladies," Sue hushed them, looking at her new customers apologetically. "You'll have to excuse them. They spend too much time here and are horrifyingly unaccustomed to new company."

"It's Sue's fault, really," Frances smirked. "She keeps feeding us."

"If she usually brings in those brownies, I don't blame you," said Jack.

"Brownies are the least of it. Cakes. Cookies. Pie. Homemade bread. All carbs. My personal trainer has had to work me twice as hard since I picked up knitting," Kate said mournfully.

Cassie laughed. "Oh, now he'll definitely be coming back."

"For cake? Yeahsureyabetcha."

Um, so, there are characters herein that have the same names as people you might know. They are not in any way, shape, or form supposed to be those people. We just used their names because some people have been particularly helpful with this whole project, and we thought they deserved something. So they get a few slightly neurotic OC’s named after them.

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