Title: By Any Other Name
Author's Name: Laura Sichrovsky
Rating: T (or PG-13 if you live in the States.)
Word Count: 2087
Pairing: Sherlock/John (Established Relationship)
Warnings: Sherlock/John kissage.
Spoilers: None, really.
Summary: Now that John and Sherlock are a couple, John wants to give his beloved a pet name. Thing is, Sherlock doesn't really want one.
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 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. (Though if you could actually send a pretzel bomb to ACD, I'd be impressed.)
Author's Notes: About three weeks ago, I read a brilliant 221B by anarion, called, The Naming of a Loved One. (Can be found on her LiveJournal page by that name.) It had John giving Sherlock a pet name. Something about that stuck in my head and this story came about. (So I thank her for that!) More 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 and Martin Freeman for making this Sherlock and John so amazing. I tried to fight it, but they were just too remarkable not to fall for. Big thank yous to Gemma for the super-fast beta job and the many helpful suggestions. I owe you so much! Thank you to Elin for reading this over for me and giving me great ideas. (You always save my stories!) And my biggest thank yous to my guiding influence and my best friend, Ann. She's the Sherlock to my John. Without her, I am nothing. (Couldn't do it without you, love. Wouldn't want to try.)
By Any Other Name
The first time John does it, he feels a bit foolish, but he thinks it's important enough to give it a try. He and Sherlock have been a couple for about three weeks and John feels this is really well overdue.
"Could you bring me that medical journal, Muffin?" John asks casually, not looking up from his laptop. He can feel the blush rising up his face, but he holds his ground. He's met with stony silence and he sighs. "I'll take that as a no."
"Brilliant deduction, John," Sherlock snaps from his place on the sofa.
John just shakes his head.
He reconsiders for a bit, but John is willing to admit to himself that he wants a little bit of normal in their relationship, so later that evening, he tries again.
"All we have in the refrigerator is milk and butter, so I'm thinking takeout for dinner?" At Sherlock's absent nod, John continues. "How about Indian, sweetheart?"
Sherlock looks up at him, his face pinching with distaste.
"Is that for the food choice or the name?"
Sherlock rolls his eyes, muttering under his breath and John pushes down his stab of disappointment as he calls in the order to the Indian restaurant.
It's silly and John knows that, but he's learned that it's the ridiculous little things between partners that cement a relationship. With all the insanity that he and Sherlock deal with on a daily basis, John doesn't feel he's being unreasonable in wanting little bites of normal. He's never had a relationship where he didn't use pet names and no one else has ever minded before. He's sure that given time, Sherlock will get used to it too if he can just find the right endearment.
That night, as he curls up in bed with Sherlock, John gives it yet another go. Sherlock is sitting against a pile of pillows reading a science journal and John leans in, pressing a kiss to Sherlock's temple.
"Oh, for the love of…" John can hear the barely controlled frustration in Sherlock's voice. "You cannot be serious."
"Actually, I was. It's a perfectly acceptable pet name."
"Only if you've suffered from a recent head injury."
Sherlock goes back to his reading, pointedly ignoring John.
"You are not making this easy. I've half a mind to settle on something like, 'pooky' if you keep this attitude."
"That is entirely up to you." Sherlock's tone is clipped. "Though don't ever expect me to respond to something so insipid."
Something in John just snaps.
"Why are you acting like this?" John says, rolling over onto his back and crossing his arms over his chest.
"You're angry," Sherlock says quietly.
"Damn right, I'm angry. I just want…" John breaks off, clenching his jaw. He takes a deep breath. "I don't see why you are being so insufferable about this. If you don't like the pet name I choose, you can just tell me instead of being insulting."
"This was entirely your idea," Sherlock says, looking up from his magazine. "I do not see the need for such a silly tradition. I told you that this wasn't my area and I have no interest in the subject, so I'm not sure why you are getting frustrated with me."
"I'm not really upset with you," John says, shaking his head. "I just didn't think it would be this hard to come up with a pet name for you and you are not helping."
"I don't understand why I need one," Sherlock grumbles under his breath.
"I heard that," John replies.
"I had no doubt that you would, John. It still doesn't answer the question."
"We're a couple now, Sherlock," John says patiently. "And couples have special little things between them."
"And this includes…pet names?" The way his mouth twists on the last part speaks volumes on his opinion of the subject.
"It does," John answers firmly. "Everyone else in the world calls you 'Sherlock'. A pet name would be something just between us, something no one else will be a part of."
"And this would please you?" Sherlock asks.
"It would. I really like the idea of something that is unique only to me."
Sherlock doesn't respond and John looks up to see him frowning. But there's something else, an expression beyond mere annoyance and John feels a touch of unease.
"Hmm?" Sherlock blinks, shaking his head, then looks distractedly back at his journal. "If it makes you happy, then choose whatever name you like. I'm sure I will get used to it."
There is something about his voice that sets off alarm bells in John's head. Sherlock actually sounds honestly upset.
"Sherlock, is something wrong?"
"Of course not."
Sherlock still isn't looking at him.
"Please talk to me," John says, gentling his voice. "I can't fix what's wrong if I don't know what it is."
"It's nothing," Sherlock says, but John can tell from his voice that he's not being completely truthful.
John rolls over onto his side, facing Sherlock, reaching out and taking his hand.
Sherlock sits for a minute, his jaw clenching slightly. He takes a deep breath.
"It's foolish, John," he says, taking his hand away and picking at the edge of the duvet.
"Tell me anyway?"
Sherlock shakes his head, muttering to himself. After a minute he looks up.
"I…I would rather not have a pet name, John. At least not from you."
His tone is completely serious and John frowns, feeling rather confused.
"I don't understand. Why not?"
"It's…nevermind." Sherlock shakes his head, looking away. "It's silly. If a pet name makes you happy, then choose one."
"It won't make me happy if I know it's bothering you," John says gently. "For it to be special, both parties have to enjoy it. I can respect that you don't want one, but I would like to know why."
"It's just…" He pauses, shaking his head. After a minute, he takes a deep breath. "When people say my name, they always…it sounds so negative."
"I'm sorry?" John wants to understand; he's just having trouble following.
"Everyone, John. My whole life, people have derided me and the way they say my name when they do…well, you've heard Anderson. Even people who like me can't keep their hostility away from my name. Mrs. Hudson is fond of me, but when she says my name, there's such frustration in it. 'Oh, Sherlock,' like she expected so much better and didn't get it. Lestrade always sounds like he's ready to have a brain aneurysm. "Sher-lock," with such a hard emphasis on the second syllable, barely controlled, like he can't believe what I just did. Mycroft says my name with clenched teeth, like it leaves a bad taste in his mouth. And he has that long suffering sigh like I actually asked him to stick his nose in my business. Even my mother, when I talk on the phone to her, she adds an endearment to it, but I can hear the disappointment in her voice. 'Sherlock, dearest, I'm not asking much.' But it's different with you, John.
Sherlock looks at John and his expression makes him seem so vulnerable.
"I know that you get upset with me, but even when you do, you don't say my name like you want to move to a different postcode and never look back. When you're telling me how amazing I am, you sound like you consider yourself lucky to be standing next to me and I feel like I can do anything. When you are helping me on a case, you say my name with such confidence, like you know that we'll solve it together. Even when you're fussing at me, 'Sherlock, we can't giggle, it's a crime scene,' I can hear the fondness in your voice and I know that you love me, even if I'm not remotely normal. When you whisper it, leaning in to share a secret, it's like there are only the two of us in the world and when you are gasping my name, just on the edge of orgasm, it feels like you can't even breathe without me."
"I'm not sure that I could," John says, reaching out and taking his hand again. He's feeling just a bit overwhelmed by what Sherlock said.
"I know it's sentiment and completely stupid, but the only time I actually like hearing my name is when you say it and I don't really want to lose that."
Sherlock looks down at the floor, shaking his head. John puts a finger under his chin, tilting his head up so he can look in Sherlock's eyes.
"That is an amazingly good reason," John says, his breath catching and his voice cracking. He swallows deeply and smiles. "I've rethought the whole pet name thing. There is nothing I'd rather call you than, 'Sherlock.'"
Sherlock smiles and John's heart swells as he sees happiness in Sherlock's eyes.
"Thank you, John." Sherlock looks thoughtful for a second. "Though I'm not ruling out endearments completely, you know. When you call me, 'love' while you hold me, I rather enjoy it. I just don't want to lose how special my name sounds when you say it."
John moves over, climbing onto Sherlock's lap and wrapping his arms around him. He leans in close, his lips right against Sherlock's ear.
"I think I can work with that, Sherlock, my love," John whispers, gratified when he feels Sherlock tremble in his arms.
He shifts his hips and leans back, capturing Sherlock's lips for a kiss, his fingers coming up to catch in Sherlock's soft curls. Sherlock's hands come up, cupping John's face and he deepens the kiss, arching against John and moaning. John breaks the kiss, sitting back and looking down at Sherlock, his breath catching at the sight beneath him.
Sherlock's face is flushed, his lips red and wet, parted slightly as he pants in laboured breaths. His hair is slightly mussed from where John's fingers ran through it and his eyes are dark and half-lidded with desire. He's looking up at John with adoration and arousal written plainly on his face. John's eyes widen as he finally understands. Sherlock is right. He does see, but he doesn't observe.
John has spent the last few hours worrying about finding a silly pet name, something singular and special between them when the nature of what they share every day is unique in and of itself. Very few people have ever seen Sherlock this relaxed and unguarded. Even fewer have earned his loyalty, respect, and affection. No one else shares his life and his bed and only John has ever seen him writhing and panting, naked and begging for release. John alone has held him close, feeling his breath catch as he comes apart in John's arms. Literally no one else in the world has heard Sherlock whispering in the dark how much he loves them, how his life was empty before them; that is reserved solely for John. While everyone else sees his cold, impassive mask, only John gets to see the open look of adoration that Sherlock is now levelling at him and no one else ever will.
In that moment, John understands how foolish he's been, focusing on insignificant details hoping to capture some feeling of a "normal" romance, all the while missing the amazing bigger picture of their life together, which is far more meaningful than anything John could have ever hoped for. He reaches out, gently stroking Sherlock's face.
"I love you," John whispers, fighting to keep his emotions in check.
"I love you too, John."
Sherlock leans up, capturing John's lips again and John loses himself in the taste and feel of the man he loves.
"John," Sherlock gasps against his mouth. "I want you now, John."
Hearing the raw need in Sherlock's voice makes John's heart race and suddenly he very much understands the appeal of hearing the person you love the most saying your name like you are all they need in the world. He breaks the kiss and smiles down at Sherlock.
"God, yes. Anything for you, Sherlock."
Sherlock's eyes light up and he leans in, reigniting the kiss. Later, John will apologise for fussing at Sherlock about the pet name thing, but right now, he's going to make it up to him in a more concrete way. And he fully intends to use Sherlock's name as much as he possibly can while he does it.