If Shaun lived in stereo before, now he lived in surround sound.
He wasn't a guy who liked the quiet. You didn't become an Irwin because the home life and its attendant security systems were enough. Shaun liked action, he liked people, he liked noise--and noise, almost always, was out there.
That is, it was out there until it was in his own head, commenting on his every movement, showing up when he was awake, when he was dreaming, when he was pretty fucking close to offing himself and just as as close to coming in his own fist. George--George in his brain--was always there, a whisper or a cajole or a shout away, and being crazy never felt so good.
Things ran off course slightly when another George showed up. This one fresh from the...place where they made Georges, which he didn't like to think about too closely. Her eyes were different, but her walk was the same, and Shaun found himself tripping right and left not to put his hands on her all the time.
Are you sure that's a real George? the George in his head asked, wary and protective.
"Am I sure you're the real George?" he snapped, drawing everyone's attention, including Other George. George in the Flesh. He was going to have to come up with a better naming system, that was for sure. "No. I'm not. So shut the fuck up and let me think."
"Don't hurt yourself too badly as you do so," Mahir said, and patted him on the shoulder.
Shaun didn't have it in him to say that he was pretty sure the damage had already been done.
It was weird, being together again. Or for the first time, depending on how brutally honest and morose he was feeling on a given day. She felt the same in his hands, compact and strong, her skin smooth from the vitamin e she used to counteract the bleaching agent. He definitely couldn't keep his hands off of her when he was finally allowed to do again. In Canada, with no one around for miles, he didn't have to check himself because someone was always watching. He could touch her shoulder, kiss her temple, hold her hand whenever he wanted--all that g-rated shit they'd never tried before. It was nice. But weird.
Sleeping together was weirder. Shaun could count exactly how long it had been since they shared a bed. Even when it was dangerous, with the Masons' general nosiness and the webcam-ready demands of their jobs, they had always found a way to be close. But after everything they'd been through, losing and then finding each other again, they were all but disconnected.
Moving from sleeping in separate beds to a shared bed took some work. George had nightmares, and he did too. George-in-his-head liked to review them in the morning, and if he'd told George-in-his-arms about them he was sure she'd want to as well. So he tried to play them off as well as he could, which wasn't particularly well.
Shaun liked to cuddle. George, at least George in front of him, went stiff when he put his arms around her. He didn't know why--they'd touched before, he was the only one that was allowed. It made him think too closely about where the body he was touching came from, that the muscles and skin didn't remember the feel of his fingers. George in his head pointed it out every time, which didn't help much. George in front of him sent apologetic glances every time, which sent a weird shiver through him, because he could see the irises of her eyes.
It took a couple of months to wear those reactions down, for both of them; they got to the point where they could go to bed together, and Shaun could lie very still while George decided where she wanted to put herself next to him that night.
It wasn't perfect. But neither were they. And they had the whole of their lives to figure it out.
Do you think clone me will have the same life expectancy? George asked.
"Shut up," he said as he worked his way through cleaning their cache of weapons. They hadn't had to use so much as a shotgun in the time they'd been here, which unnerved him, so he made sure he'd never have a second thought about cocking the trigger.
I'm just saying no one has done the expose on this yet. We don't know the likelihood a clone will even make it a year after activation.
"Seriously, if you don't shut up about this, I'll give myself a concussion just to make it quiet for awhile," he said under his breath.
George looked up from her tablet and raised an eyebrow at him. "Am I mouthing off again?" she asked, curiosity apparent on her face.
"No," he lied, and knew that she saw it.
"What about?" she pressed.
Tell her we're doing actuarial analysis, George said slyly, and Shaun dropped the barrel of his rifle and rubbed a hand over his eyes.
"Unicorns and doilies," he told George, and he could feel the look they both gave him without looking at either of them.
"Listen," he said, "both of you. I seriously don't mind being crazy. I'm pretty fucking used to it by now. But I would really, really appreciate it if you didn't use me as a translator for whatever creepy conversation you want to have with yourself. I'm just glad that I have you, even if that means that I have two of you, and I'd rather just pretend that I'm the only one who's hearing double, capiche?"
George in his head was noticeably silent, but George in the house stood up from the couch and put her book on the coffee table. She padded over in her sock feet, and when he pushed his chair away from the table, she stood between his knees and ducked down.
"I'm--we're--glad you have us, too," she whispered, and kissed him. It would have been sad how quickly Shaun's dick sprang to attention, but it was George in front of him, her hips in his hands, her skin under his fingertips, and he'd basically built himself to her specifications anyway.
She leaned down and sat in his lap, and he let out a sigh. "I don't care how interesting it is," he said quietly. "This, this situation," he said, waving broadly to encompass his brain and her body, "doesn't even rate the top ten crazy shit we've had to deal with, at least not on a national scale. I just want to be here, with you, with both of you, and enjoy it. Because it was fucking earned."
George smiled at him, kissed him again, and rose, grasping his hand to tug him along. "C'mon," she said. "You can fuck me, and I'm sure I'll cheer you on."
Fuck me, George said. I'll tell you how to make me come on your fingers, and then your tongue, and then your cock.
Shaun slowly grinned. "Three minds are better than one?" he tried, and laughed at their tandem groans as he followed George to their bedroom.