The first time John Hamish Watson saw the bright blue blanket after a particularly difficult case, he said nothing about it. Admittedly, he did notice how it was unusually bulky and dropped to the floor with a sound that no other blanket did whenever his flatmate stood up from under it, but he thought nothing of it. While Sherlock Holmes had been using illegal substances when John first moved into No. 221b Baker Street, he had gradually weaned himself off them with the doctor’s help, and although he would always be an addict, his recovery obviously continued well, so his flatmate never had cause to worry that the unusual blanket might contain something which was illegal to possess.
Over the next several months, the strange blanket seemed to appear more and more often until John no longer thought of it as unusual.
Then one evening, returning home after solving a case where children were being abducted and sent to brothels in Southeast Asia, Sherlock sat on the couch and wrapped his heavy blanket around himself before saying, "Out."
"Out. I need to think, and I can't do it with the sound of your breathing. Now get out! Go for a walk or something."
Slightly affronted, John nevertheless did as he had been ordered, well used to Sherlock's eccentricities by now. He had only just returned to the bottom of the stairs when Amelia Jane Hudson, his landlady, opened her door and exited her flat.
"Hello, Dr. Watson. Are you going out again already? I thought you'd only just got back."
"I did, Mrs. Hudson, but Sherlock sent me back out pretty much straight away."
"Oh, do you want me to see what the matter is with him for you?"
"I wouldn't. You don't know how he gets when he's in one of his moods."
With that, John left the building and went to the local Londis to pick up a few bits. He and Sherlock were nearly out of milk, and junk food would be a great comfort after the traumas the last case had visited on them both.
The moment that John Watson closed the front door of No. 221b Baker Street after him, Mrs. Hudson, disregarding what he had said, went upstairs and knocked on the flat door, calling out, "Mr. Holmes? It's me, Mrs. Hudson. May I come in?"
Upon receiving no answer, she unlocked the door and opened it, asking if Sherlock was all right.
Immediately, he stood up, his blanket and a cushion he had on his lap falling to the floor with a thud, and he strode towards the intruder, saying, "What don't you people understand about needing to be alone? You're all just social parasites, feeding off each other when in company, taking away from each other's ability to cope with the stress of mindless chitchat. Bloody gossip freaks!"
Mrs. Hudson allowed herself to be escorted from the flat by the obviously irate man, then after stopping to consider the encounter for several moments, returned to her own flat downstairs, where she used her phone to ring 101.
✱ ✱ ✱
At around half past six the following morning, John was boiling the kettle to make cups of tea for himself and Sherlock, who was still huddled beneath his blanket on the couch, when he heard the door of the flat being unlocked and opened, then a man's voice said, "Mr. Sherlock Holmes?"
"Yes. What is it?"
John smiled. He could hardly blame his flatmate for being grumpy at the intrusion. His amusement fled just a moment later, however, when the voice continued, "We have a warrant to search these premises for illegal substances. Do you have anything to say before we exercise it?"
"I'm not on drugs, you fatuous nincompoops!" Sherlock snarled. "Now leave before I have your jobs for this unnecessary encroachment!"
"Right, he's not going to co-operate. Sergeant Peters, place this man under arrest."
Having heard quite enough, John left the kitchen and entered the lounge, then said, "Wait, you don't have to arrest him. Sherlock, just let the officers do their job, then once they realise we've got nothing illegal, we can file charges against whoever rang the police for making a false report."
"Mrs. Hudson," Sherlock said, suddenly.
"Mrs. Hudson. She must have decided I'm on drugs just because I chased her out after she walked in last night. Well, you can be sure I'll sue her for this result of her malicious gossip, and for trespass!"
After this, Sherlock sat quietly as a sniffer dog was brought in, only to protest as it alerted on his favourite cushion, sitting on the floor beside it. Instantly, he tried to prevent the cushion from being picked up by the dog's handler, his blanket falling to the floor with its customary thud as he stood up.
"What's this?" one of the officers said, picking up the bright blue cloth. "A blanket isn't supposed to be this heavy."
"Give that back!" Sherlock yelled, losing interest in the cushion as he tried to retrieve his property.
"Sergeant Peters, if you will? Now, let's see what's stashed in this. Must be something interesting for you to get so riled up about it, hmm?"
Sherlock simply glared mutinously at the DI, the cuffs holding his hands behind his back rendering him impotent.
"Detective Inspector," John began pacifically. "Please give my friend his blanket back. I can assure you that it contains no illegal substances."
"Really. Well, I think I'd better check, hadn't I?"
With that, the DI took out a pocket knife and unfolded it, then used it to cut open one of the pockets on the underside of the blanket, much surprised when polypropylene pellets poured from it and scattered all over the floor. With the rattle of the plastic beads, Sherlock let out a sob of anguish, then sank to the floor where he knelt and rocked himself, banging his head against the arm of the couch with each forward movement.
"Grab him, he's resisting arrest!
"He's not resisting arrest! Are you, Sherlock?" At this, Sherlock groaned, and John continued, "In fact, he's Autistic, and your destruction of his weighted blanket has sent him into meltdown." He had no idea if anything he was saying was true, but Autism certainly fit his flatmate's needs and current behaviour far better than others' accusations of sociopathy ever could.
One by one, the members of the search team came back into the room and said, "We've found nothing, sir."
The DI unlocked the handcuffs on Sherlock's wrists, saying, "You're a very lucky man, Mr. Holmes. Be sure to stay out of trouble from now on, alright?"
Sherlock's head continued to thud against the arm of the couch as he carried on rocking and groaning until all the police had left the flat, this time with his arms wrapped around himself.
✱ ✱ ✱
Once John had closed and locked the flat door behind the last departing police officer, he went back into the lounge where he picked up the blanket and asked, "Don't you want this Sherlock?"
"No, it's ruined."
"Ruined? Sherlock, only one pocket was cut open. It's very easy to repair."
At this, Sherlock stalked towards John, snatching the blanket from his hands and throwing it to the floor, snarling, "It's ruined! What don't you understand about that?"
All of a sudden, John did understand. The blanket had been perfect, and had ceased to be so once the police had cut it open in their cruel thoughtlessness.
"Well, should I try to get a new one, then?"
"You don't understand. Irene Adler sent me that blanket after I solved the case involving her and Karl von Habsburg, and since I haven't bothered to keep track of her whereabouts, I can't get another that has the same value."
"Oh, I see," John said before going into the kitchen to brew Sherlock a mug of tea that ended up going cold on the coffee table.
✱ ✱ ✱
It was around thirty-six hours after the police search that Sherlock finally pronounced the placement of everything in the flat acceptable, then he went to bed and slept for ten hours straight, simply lying on his side and staring at the wall opposite the door once he was awake again. Rather concerned for his flatmate and friend, John contacted the only person he thought might be able to help.
"So why isn't he talking to me?" John asked.
"He's in shutdown, so he's not able to talk to anyone at the moment," Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock's brother, answered. "Don't worry, I know what's needed to help him. Just be patient for the next few days."
"I wish I hadn't told him to co-operate with the police now."
"Oh, hush. If you hadn't, he'd have found himself in a far worse situation, and it's not like you could predict their deliberate ignorance of Autism. Like I said, I'll help him recover from this, and he should return to his old self not long after."
Having said this, Mycroft left, and John went to cook Sherlock his favourite cheesy beans on toast to tempt him to eat something.
✱ ✱ ✱
Several hours after Sherlock went into shutdown, he finally emerged from his room, although he didn't say a word and everything John said was met with a grunt. A week after that, however, he walked into the lounge with his bright blue blanket over his shoulders and sat on the couch to grab his favourite cushion and hold it on his lap.
"Oh, you've changed your mind about your blanket, then?" John asked.
"What? Oh no, this is my new blanket."
"That's what I mean. Didn't you say that the blanket Irene Adler sent you couldn't be replaced?"
"I didn't say it couldn't be replaced, John, I said that it couldn't be replaced by anything you or I might buy. Luckily, Irene somehow heard about what happened to my old one and sent this in its place. I wish I could write back to her to thank her."
"So it was that in the parcel I saw you signing for?"
"Indeed." Sherlock momentarily rubbed a corner of the weighted blanket against his cheek, then said, "I rather fancy a jacket potato for lunch. Will you put one in the microwave, please, John?"
"With cheese and beans and sausages?"
"Make sure they're Heinz."
"That's the only brand we have in!"
Laughing, John went into the kitchen, wondering, not for the first time, how Sherlock had eaten before he had gained a flatmate willing to cook for him.