Ess aich ee are el oh see kay.

It's long, as names go, and more than passing strange. People almost always echo it back after an introduction. "Sherlock," they'll say, "how unique."

Depending on his mood, the consulting detective lets the small talk pass unremarked, but sometimes—not so often, not any more—he rattles off a string of on-the-spot deductions, rarely kind, hardly ever complementary.

Because like the man it labels, that name's full of aggressive angles, vowels and consonants that poke at your mouth. Your throat catches on the K, closes up tight, and if you're as moody as the man, you may hold that against him, whether it makes sense or not.

He's never thought much of his name. When he was a kid other kids mocked it, rhyming it with every word under the sun, the real goers being shock, frock, and the ever-enduring cock.

For all its distinctiveness the name's actually hard to remember. Most people cobble up the 'lock,' but go blank as they reach for the rest, emphatically not what he wanted in those early days of begging and badgering for access to cases, witnesses, suspects, and clues.

By his mid-30s he'd more or less stopped hearing it as a name. It became merely a way to be summoned, a form of email or text if you will, something people said when they were ready to admit they were out of their depth.

And then there was John.

The first time John said his name, Sherlock wasn't even there, he was flying across rooftops in search of pink. The second time he was still flying, but it was that brain soaring, fast-talking a flock of deductions right in Lestrade's face.

Of course there was a third time, a fourth, a fifth…a dozen times a dozen instances when John said his name in those first months they were flatmates. But the first time he really heard the silly word, heard the ess, the aich, the ee, and all the rest as more than just noise, John was standing in Sherlock's bedroom doorway, just twenty minutes away from becoming his lover.

It's been a dozen times a dozen months since that long-ago night, but even now Sherlock sometimes goes still when John murmurs those eight letters. Sometimes he'll deduce John's mood, wants, or needs from just that one word, sometimes he won't.

But what Sherlock Holmes will always do, even now, so many years later, he'll hear the grace John Watson gives his difficult name, and he will now, ever, and always…answer.

Don't you wonder what Sherlock thinks of his unique name? I sometimes do. This is a short fic I put up on Tumblr today; I write a short story for Tumblr every week, now I'm going to collect them here. Each stands alone, but I'll be gathering all the previous ones into a single document and putting that up here, too. Eventually.