Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters from Xena: Warrior Princess, nor am I making any money from this creation.

Fighting Back Instinct

A Modern Xena Fanfic

Chapter 1

A/N: To sum up the summary, this story is inspired by the television series we all know and love. It is set in modern times, so clearly an AT as well as an AU fanfic. And it is a Xena/Ares pairing! with many other Xenite characters including, but not limited to, Gabrielle, Autolycus, Iolaus, Draco, and Argo.

"Xena! I can't find them!"

Xena rubbed her temples as shouting continued from the back of the modest apartment she shared with her best friend, Gabrielle.

"What are you looking for now? Your brain?" Xena shouted back, as she lounged on a dark brown sofa, a large german shepherd stretched out awkwardly across her lap.

"Ha ha. Very funny," the distressed voice said, as a petite woman with short blonde locks emerged from the back room holding a mess of objects in her hands. "This place is a disaster. I can never find anything," she continued exasperatedly, her voice not any softer even now that she was in the same room as Xena.

Xena quirked a brow as she watched her flustered roommate drop her armload in the middle of the floor. And Gabrielle's ranting never paused, as the girl started upturning everything in the small living room.

"Oh, now look," Xena said, as her german shepherd rolled onto its back and covered its muzzle in its paws. "You're even giving Argo a headache."

Gabrielle finally paused her rant to glare at Xena. "You're like living with a man, you know that, right?" she asked, her voice itching with irritation as she pointed her finger accusingly at Xena. "And don't even think for a moment I didn't notice you turning up the volume on the TV just now."

Xena just smirked as she tapped her fingers on the remote control that lay on the armrest of the sofa.

"And you treat Argo better than you treat me," Gabrielle complained, as she looked at the massive animal laying across Xena's lap and stretched out across the length of the loveseat. "I mean, hell, the dog lives literally in the lap of luxury."

Xena sighed, "Now, you know that's not true, Gab," she said as she gingerly lifted Argo's head so she could stand. "Well, I mean sure; Argo's my baby, but you're like a sister to me, Gabrielle."

Gabrielle glared up at Xena when she rose from the couch. But Gabrielle felt the corners of her lips curving into a slight smile. It was a wonder how she and Xena were such close friends. The woman was every inch her opposite. She was tall, tanned, and had long ebony hair that had men begging at her feet. But she acted like such a brute sometimes. "Yes, and I'm so much fun to tease, right?" Gabrielle asked, her voice starting to grow more calm.

Xena smirked. "Exactly. Now what is it that's so important that you've upturned all our furniture to find?"

"My keys. I'm supposed to meet Iolaus for lunch," Gabrielle said, continuing her hunt for the elusive set of keys.

"Oh, you mean these keys?" Xena asked, pulling a set from her jean pockets. "You should have said something earlier."

Gabrielle blinked, then snatched the keys from Xena's hand and held them against her chest. "Oh thank God," she breathed, before glaring up at Xena.

"What?" Xena asked innocently. "God knows I'd never be caught dead driving that piece of crap VW van you've got," she said matter-of-factly. "I just needed to get in so I could fix your air conditioner," she shrugged.

Gabrielle's eyes widened. "You fixed it?" she asked, her voice rising in pitch. All anger was lost as a wide smile took over her soft features. "You're my hero!" she breathed as she wrapped her arms around the tall woman.

Xena returned the hug awkwardly. "Yeah, yeah," she said, embarrassed. "Now shoo, so I can have a little peace and quiet before I have to go to work." Xena pushed Gabrielle towards the door. "Besides," she added. "You wouldn't want to be late for your date."

Gabrielle protested, her hands on her hips, "It's not a date! Iolaus and I are just friends," she said, but a blush crept across her cheeks.

Xena noticed the pink that flushed her friend's pale skin. "Uh, huh. Sure. Just have fun. And remember, be safe."

"Yes, mother," Gabrielle said, as she ran out the door smiling.

A blood red lotus with black racing stripes pulled into the parking lot of Xena's small, but well maintained auto shop. Loud music and a heavy bass pounded through the tinted windows. Xena quirked a brow at the exotic car. She didn't see too many sports cars in the shop.

Pulling her eyes from the car, she grabbed a ratchet and laid back on her creeper and rolled underneath an old Cadillac. Xena could no longer see the lotus, but she heard the beautiful hum of the engine cut off, and then the sound of the driver's side door opening, then closing.

Xena ignored the sound of footsteps approaching; instead, focusing on the task at hand. Besides, she figured it was safe to assume that the flashy sports car belonged to some spoiled teenager who's daddy had too much money and not enough common sense. So making him wait would teach him that the world in fact, didn't revolve around him.

A tall man in his mid to late twenties entered the garage, a scowl on his face. The place was small – a mom and pop sort of shop, but it was clean and organized, not something you could usually say for a small-time auto shop on the outskirts of town.

He scanned the interior of the garage. There were two cars in the shop. Well, one car, and a rusted Ford truck; both looked like they were in desperate need of repairs.

The man's eyes landed on two booted feet sticking out from underneath the Cadillac. He coughed, letting the mechanic under the car know he had a customer. When it seemed like the mechanic wasn't going to roll out from under the car any time soon, he tried again, this time, nudging one of the steel-toed work boots. He didn't like being ignored and this mechanic was definitely aware of his presence, and was definitely ignoring him.

"Hey, I don't have all day. I can go elsewhere if I need to," the man said, kicking at the boots one more time.

"Alright, alright. That's enough," Xena said, her voice strained. "A little god damn patience would be nice," she muttered, rolling out and standing.

She wiped the sweat from her brow, surprised to see a man standing irritated and impatient before her, instead of the typical high school punk she had been expecting.

Xena pressed her lips together matching the man's look of irritation. She didn't miss the flash of surprise in his eyes when she had stood up to face him. He probably hadn't been expecting to find a woman running an auto shop.

Xena didn't bother to hide her look of annoyance. His overall appearance screamed wealth; no, it reeked of wealth and snobbish superiority. A crisp and expensive looking business suit wrapped his body, his hair was brushed back to reveal dark eyes that stared down at her critically, and on his finger lay a very large silver ring.

Xena narrowed her eyes. "Can I help you?" she tried to ask pleasantly, but her distaste for this white collared man was evident in her tone.

"I'm not sure you can," he said, looking her up and down. "I'm looking for the mechanic here, not his secretary."

Xena walked past the Ford and slammed the hood of the heavy work truck closed. The sound echoed against the cement walls of the garage. "A secretary?" she laughed, throwing the ratchet into the tall toolbox against the wall. She turned back around to face the man. "I've been called a lot of things before, but never a secretary."

"Ah, so you're not the secretary. My mistake," he said, his eyes holding her cold gaze.

Xena didn't miss the look in his eyes as they changed from irritated, to something darker and possibly more mischievous.

"I wouldn't mind having you as my secretary," he continued, letting his gaze fall lower. "You seem to have all the necessary… traits."

Xena clenched her jaw. "Alright. I think I've heard enough," she said. "I don't care how much money I could pull from your pockets with that lotus out there. Get out."

The man completely ignored her, a smirk passing over his dark features. "In fact," he continued somewhat thoughtfully, as he ran his fingers along his neatly trimmed goatee, "I should just buy this little shop right out from under your feet. Then I can make you my secretary."

Xena stepped forward and faced the man, holding his intense gaze in her own. "I don't know who you think you are, but I want you out of my shop," she ordered. "Now."

Finally she had his attention.

The man seemed to be taken aback by her stern and commanding tone. But then he threw back his head and laughed, a deep and resonating laughter that made goose bumps prickle along Xena's skin.

"You don't have any idea who I am, do you?" he asked, the laughter gone just as quickly as it came.

Xena's face was blank.

"I'm Ares. Ever heard of me?"

"God of War?" Xena asked sarcastically, but her face was deadpanned. She had heard of Ares. Who hadn't? His name was always showing up in the newspapers. He was a business tycoon. A multibillionaire and well-known playboy. Yes, she had heard of him, and wanted nothing do with him or his type.

The muscles in Ares' jaw clenched, obviously frustrated at finding someone who claimed to be oblivious to who he was and the power he held. "That's fine," he said, but his voice was strained like he was fighting back anger. "I'll take my car, and my money elsewhere." And with that, he spun on his heels and walked out.

Xena watched him slam his car door closed and rev the engine. Then he peeled out of the parking lot, his tires smoking.

A/N: I've been on this website since 2006, but I have always enjoyed reading the stories here, rather than writing them. Finally, I post something of my own! RR and enjoy.

© 2009 kungfuwarrior