Everything whispers to John.

He's not mad, he's realized that by now, because it's real, and he knows that mad people don't think they're mad, and think that the things they hear are real, but he's sure on this.

Everything whispers to John, and they tell him things.

Not everything likes talking to him as much, for some reason, things of pain and death seem to be more talkative. Knives, and thumb tacks, and the little mousetrap his mother sets in the kitchen all whisper to him, telling him stories, sometimes asking for help. Sometimes they're just lonely.

It's probably why he wants to be a doctor, why he goes to war.

He likes the things that the bullets and the bombs and the guns tell him. He likes his gun, and when he holds it in his hand, he feels calm, steady, deadly if he has to be. His gun is almost like a kindred spirit to him.

He doesn't hear the bullet coming until it lodges in his shoulder, and it cries out to him, or maybe that is just him, since he's probably crying out too, he can't quite tell. He thinks he might die there, with only the bullet and his gun for company, and neither of them are very good at conversation at the moment.

He doesn't die in the desert, and eventually he goes home to London, after listening to so many scalpels and IV poles and bandages and stethoscopes moan at him that it almost drives him mad.

And when he's back in England with a scar on his shoulder and a limp in his leg, he finds his gun utterly silent.

They give it back to him, even though they shouldn't, but they know, a little bit at least, how attached he is to it. And he's thankful for that, because he feels he already lost a part of himself in Afghanistan, something that seeped out along with the blood, and he can't get that back, so his gun will have to do.

But it won't speak to him.

He sits in his bedsit, alone in the dark, and holds it on his lap, urging it to speak to him, to say anything.

"So what's new?" he tries. "I know you were kept in storage for a while. Anything interesting happen?"

He chatters on for a while, trying to get anything out of it, but he feels... alone. Nothing else in the flat wants to speak to him, only occasionally muttering to themselves. He feels lonely.

He's angry.

"Fat lot of good you were," he tells it. "When I was shot and everything."

There's no response.

"Don't do that, give me the silent treatment. If anyone should be ignoring anyone it's me, not you."

Still no response.

He tries again.

"I didn't mean that. Not really. It's not your fault."

Still frustratingly silent.

"Fine," he says. "You have your little tantrum. See if I care."

He leaves it alone under the bed, in the box it was stored in.