Cloning Around At The Polls
The characters of Xena and Gabrielle belong in their entirety to Universal/MCA, Renaissance Pictures, and all the other powers that be. The characters portrayed here resemble those heroines, but no copyright infringement is intended. I wrote this story at the urging of my muse; it should never be used for profit. Please do not copy or cite elsewhere without express permission of the author.
This story depicts an act of violence, and voting.
Love only, this time. And voting.
The Time: November 2, 2004
The Place: Southern California
The blond eased their battered 1994 Honda Civic into a narrow parking space between a Lexus SUV and a Chevy Suburban. She scowled at both oversized vehicles as she unhooked her seatbelt.
"You’re getting better at this," her tall, dark passenger observed.
"Yeah, ten dents and two speeding tickets later…"
"I hate it when that happens." The other woman flashed a confident grin.
Both women squeezed their way out of the car and surveyed the territory.
"Xena, are you sure this is the right high school? I don’t see any ‘Vote Here’ signs."
"Yeah, it’s the right place. I checked the voter’s pamphlet against the map on Yahoo."
The blond noticed a large building in the distance. "Maybe that’s the library. Let’s try there first."
"Right behind ya."
The women set off at a stroll across the vast campus. Xena chuckled quietly as she observed the tough-looking, "Goth" students hanging out between classes. Gabrielle gazed about, soaking up the warmth of learning-in-progress.
"I still can’t believe you’re voting for Bush." Xena’s remark was casual, but she felt the need to admonish Gabrielle once more before they voted for the first time in their clone existence.
"Hey, I’ve been studying this whole voting thing ever since Sal got us those documents and helped us register. This is what the polis is all about." The Bard nudged her companion. "I practically had to pull you off the ceiling when we tried to make sense of those godsbedamned ballot initiatives."
"But what do you see in this guy?"
"Mr. Bush just seems so sincere," Gabrielle responded. "Even his Texas accent resonates with me for some strange reason."
"The accent’s a phony and so is he," Xena snarled.
"But he’s so resolute on national security, just like some of the warlords we knew back…"
The other woman cut her off.
"Gabrielle, I know warlords. And George W, Bush is no warlord. Have you read any of that stuff about his record during the Vietnam War? He’s a coward." The Warrior Princess barely contained her anger. "If Dubya was in my army, I’d have executed him myself."
"Ssshhh…" Gabrielle glanced around warily. "You never know who’s listening these days. Remember that guy in Orange County who picked a fight about your Kerry-Edwards t-shirt?"
"The one I decked?"
"The one who threatened to press charges…"
"…And I threatened to break his legs. He stopped didn’t he?"
"Yes, but…" The shorter woman slowed her pace and grasped her companion’s forearm to slow her down as well. She pointed toward a man who was busily ripping a sign from a nearby wall.
"What is he doing?" she asked quietly.
"Looks to me like he’s taking down a sign that says ‘Polling Place 200 Yards’."
"That’s not legal."
"Nope. Let’s check it out."
"Hey buddy, whatcha doin’?" Xena drawled as she strolled toward him. "You’re too old to be a student and too dirty to be faculty."
"Just moving this sign, lady." He was a big man and sounded rather annoyed.
"More like removing it," Gabrielle remarked.
"Fuck off, blondie," the big guy growled. "You too," he added, glaring at Xena.
"That’s not nice. Put it back." Xena gave her order quietly, but there was no mistaking the menace in her voice.
The big man raised his middle finger at the two women and muttered under his breath as he continued to tear at the sign. "Coupla dykes making trouble…"
In a flash Xena snagged him by the collar and hauled him close. He yelped and struggled, but she held firm. Gabrielle took up her usual position, watching Xena’s back. So far, no one else had witnessed the altercation.
The bard noticed a door marked "Women." "Xena, in there…" she nodded toward the door and Xena slammed her captive through the entrance and up against a wall in the girls’ bathroom.
"Campus Security! Everyone out…Now!" Gabrielle’s Amazon command voice sent three students scurrying to the door, so unnerved that one of them dropped the cigarette they’d been sharing.
Without warning, the big man reached into his pocket and pulled a knife, flicking it open in one smooth move. A seven-inch blade shone under the fluorescent lights. Xena backed away and gave him a wicked smile.
"Try me," she purred, motioning to him, daring him to attack.
"You asked for it, bitch!" He lunged toward the Warrior.
The man never noticed the Bard rushing him from the side. Her lightning-fast left front kick sent his weapon flying across the room. Xena moved in and jabbed both sides of the man’s neck, sending him to his knees.
Xena turned to her companion with a look of disappointment. Gabrielle pre-empted her protest. "Hey, we don’t have time for fighting today. We have to vote."
The Warrior turned back to her gasping, gurgling victim.
"You’re too nervous and hostile for someone who’s just moving signs. Now spill it."
The big guy shook his head as a thin, red trickle began at one nostril.
"I’ve cut off the flow of blood to your brain. You’ll be dead in 30 seconds if I don’t hear something good real soon."
Gabrielle began a countdown. "Fifteen, fourteen, …."
The man choked and sputtered for a few more seconds, then he nodded in surrender.
"This ain’t worth dying for," he gasped as the Warrior released her pinch. He fell back on his butt. Xena towered over him.
"What were you doing with that sign?"
"They paid me to take them down."
"Who paid you?"
"Orange County…Republicans." His voice was hoarse and his face red.
"Why?" Gabrielle asked.
"They want to make it tough for the people in this precinct…"
"What people?" Gabrielle continued the inquisition, though she’d already guessed the answer.
"Kerry voters," he replied, sounding dull and defeated.
"Ah, Democrats." Xena grinned, reached down, and pulled him to his feet by his collar. "Now, I want answers and I want them fast," she threatened. "Where else did you remove the signs?"
The thug poured out his illicit tasks for that morning, the polling places visited and signs destroyed.
Gabrielle retrieved the knife, folded it, and put it in the pocket of her cargo pants. Xena grabbed the man roughly by the front of his "Bush and Cheney in 2004" t-shirt and stood him on tiptoe.
"Get off this property and go home," she hissed. "Take down another sign today and you and I will have a heart-to-heart chat about civil rights." She couldn’t resist slamming him once more against the wall before she released him.
He staggered out the door, rubbing the back of his head.
"We’d better get going." She opened the door and smiled at the Bard. "After you. Nice kick."
"Thanks, Xena. Any time."
The Warrior spotted another sign that pointed them in the right direction and they set off toward their polling place.
As Xena and Gabrielle drew near the entrance to the campus library, where a sign indicated ‘Vote Here," they heard a ruckus off to the side. A tall, tanned blond in a short, stylish suit appeared to be arguing with two other women. They were wearing modified hijab.
The tall woman posed officiously. A pin on her lapel read "Poll Monitor."
Xena and Gabrielle overheard her as she ordered the two Arab women to present their papers. The blond sounded all business, and bossy.
"Papers?" Xena looked over at Gabrielle. "Do we need papers too?" Images of killing Sal if he’d procured the wrong papers came unbidden to her warrior mind.
"Let me handle this," Gabrielle responded to her companion in a confident whisper. She turned and gave the well-dressed "official" her sweetest smile, moving closer.
"What papers do these women need?" she asked politely, offering a slight, reassuring smile to the other women.
"Identification, registration, party affiliation. They should have received their papers in the mail by now."
One of the women in the hijab spoke up in a slight accent. "We’re registered voters in this county. We both voted in the last election. I can show you…" She began to reach into an envelope she was carrying.
"No need," Gabrielle responded. "The real poll workers will check your ID inside. Won’t they?"
As she directed her question at the blond, Gabrielle moved even closer, crowding the taller woman’s personal space, almost touching her, gently threatening.
"Hmmmm….seems you’re asking for papers outside the official polling place. Tell me, and be very honest now, are you working for the County Registrar of Voters?"
"I’m with the OCRC and I have a right to be here," the blond replied, a note of indignity creeping into her voice.
"May I see your identification?" Gabrielle kept her tone polite, but she noticed a change in the woman’s complexion. Her perfect tan seemed to pale even as the Bard watched.
"You don’t have any real business here, do you?" Gabrielle asked, taking a step back.
"I most certainly…I mean… I am…I do…" the woman stammered.
"I’d leave now if I were you. Otherwise, I’ll report you to the real folks, in there." She nodded toward the voting area. "This kind of intimidation could get you in real trouble. Now let these women pass."
"Well, I never…" the woman huffed, but she slithered off in her tight suit.
"Thank you so much," the two women said in unison. They smiled graciously at their rescuer.
"You’re welcome." The Bard gestured for the women to enter ahead of her.
"How did you know?" Xena whispered as she and her soulmate walked into their polling place for the first time.
"I read some stuff about voter intimidation on the Internets."
"That’s my Gabrielle." Xena grinned and Gabrielle blushed. "Now let’s go vote."
Xena emerged from her voting booth and noticed that Gabrielle was waiting just outside the door to the stuffy room where they’d cast their ballots.
"Slowpoke," the Bard teased as they exited the library and began to stroll back to their car.
"Hey, I wanted to do it right. It’s my first time."
Something about the Warrior’s childlike excuse warmed Gabrielle’s heart.
"I have a confession to make."
"You voted for Kerry and Edwards."
Gabrielle stopped short and grabbed Xena by the forearm.
"Hey! How did you know? Did you peek at my sample ballot? I swear…"
Xena gently removed the bard’s hand, grasping it a second longer than necessary.
"Gabrielle, you have a truly compassionate heart, and you’re a strong, intelligent woman. I never thought for a moment that you’d vote for George Bush. But the debate was too much for you to resist." The Warrior grinned down at her speechless partner.
They resumed strolling, occasionally bumping shoulders, subtly touching. As they approached their Honda Civic, now cramped between a Lincoln Navigator and a Cadillac Escalade, Gabrielle decided to continue the discussion.
"OK. So you guessed who I really voted for. I owe you, Warrior Princess, and they say that paybacks are a bit…mmmpphhh."
Before she could utter the final word, Xena moved in and covered the smaller woman’s mouth with her palm.
"Such language…and on a high school campus." She lowered her hand, smiling.
"You know these kids could teach us words for things we can’t even imagine, so don’t lecture me."
"Right. Then, they probably won’t be too bothered when I do this."
The Warrior leaned down and kissed the Bard firmly on her lips.
"I like this voting stuff," Gabrielle thought as she completely forgot where she’d put her keys.
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