The last day of March came and went, as usual, with no acknowledgement of John's birthday. And then the murders began.
John was awakened on the first of April by the sound of Sherlock's feet pounding up the stairs, soon followed by the sound of Sherlock's fist pounding on his door.
"Triple homicide, John! Get dressed!"
"Do I have time for a shower?"
"Yes, but make it fast. We have a train to catch."
"Brighton — I'll explain on the way."
"How did Lestrade end up with this case, if the murders happened in Brighton?" John asked.
"The three victims were uni students from a missing persons case that's been sitting on his desk for a week. He wasn't giving it much attention, since he figured they'd just gone off for a lark."
"Okay. But they're no longer missing, so Lestrade's case is closed, right? Shouldn't the Brighton police be investigating the deaths?"
"They are. But there's a fourth student who went missing at the same time. He's likely either the killer or in danger of becoming the next victim. Either way, we're going to track him down."
Their first stop was Joe's Cafe, where Sherlock insisted John order brunch so that they would blend in. Next, the case took them up the i360 observation tower, with breathtaking views along the coast, over the South Downs, and across the English Channel. Then came a long walk along the stony beach, where Sherlock searched for clues while John enjoyed the fresh air and the rare April sunshine.
They wound up on the pier, retracing the steps of the missing (or unfortunately found) uni students. As they wandered through the Palace of Fun, Sherlock encouraged John to play a series of random-seeming arcade games. Then they headed to the theme park, where they rode the ghost train through the Horror Hotel, followed by the Air Race and the Turbo Coaster.
John was having so much fun that he'd almost forgotten they were on a case. "Care to fill me in on your deductions so far?" he asked.
"You know I never like to theorise ahead of the data," Sherlock said. "Go get some fish and chips over there. Look away as he's making change, and then bring me back the coins he gives you. I think I'm on to something."
John did as instructed. He devoured the mouthwatering battered fish as Sherlock carefully examined the coins John had handed him.
Sherlock's eyes lit up. "How are you at laser tag?" he asked.
"You know I'm a crack shot."
"Come on, then!"
Half an hour later, they were battling their way through the LaserZone. John whooped as he zapped one hapless teenager after another. By the time the game ended, he was giddy with exhilaration.
"You racked up a record high score," Sherlock pointed out.
"You weren't too shabby, yourself. We make a good team."
Sherlock grinned at him, then checked his phone. "Text from Lestrade. The fourth student just turned himself in."
John's mood was too good to be spoiled by Sherlock's mutterings about Lestrade having wasted their time, or by the fact that he leapt out of the cab in typical fashion the moment it pulled up in front of 221B, leaving John to pay the driver. John was humming to himself as he made his way up the stairs to their flat.
John's mouth fell open at the sight that greeted him. A huge banner reading HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOHN hung across the far wall. Dozens of his friends surged forward to draw him in, plying him with food and drinks, gifts and conversation.
Beaming, John raised a glass to them all. "Happy fucking birthday to me!"
As the party finally began winding down, John turned to Lestrade. "Cheers. That was a bloody brilliant April Fools joke, you sending us on a wild goose chase so you could pull this off."
"I wish I could take credit, mate, but this whole thing was Sherlock's idea. He's been organising it for weeks. He put Molly in charge of the decorating, and Mrs. Hudson in charge of the food. I just helped out a bit with the guest list, and texted him when we were nearly ready."
John was stunned. Sherlock had done all of this? Sherlock, who never acknowledged anyone's birthday? Sherlock, who scoffed every time John mentioned how much he liked Brighton, insisting that it was touristy and overrated? Sherlock, who despised social gatherings?
Sherlock had done all of this. For him.
John looked around, but couldn't spot his flatmate. Sherlock was probably hiding in his room, overwhelmed by the festivities. John tapped on his door, and then let himself in.
Sherlock rose to greet him. "Are you enjoying the party, John?"
"Yeah. But I've been a fool."
"For not catching on to my clever scheme?"
"No. For waiting so many years to do this…"
John stepped forward, placing one hand on either side of Sherlock's face. He looked up into those familiar eyes, asking a silent question. Seeing the answer he'd been hoping for, John kissed Sherlock, very gently, on the lips.
For one heart-stopping moment, the two of them stood together, frozen. Then all of John's birthday wishes came true: Sherlock kissed him back.
End Notes: It's not my birthday, but you could still make my wishes come true by leaving me some reviews. :)