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

Chapter 3

Ares pushed open the door to his bedroom and ran a hand through his messy black hair. He touched his swollen and cracked lip and smiled, remembering the punch that had busted open his face. Fighting was in his blood. Violence seemed to be just as necessary for him as was the very act of breathing.

Snoring from the corner of the room made him scowl. Ares dropped his bloodied suit on the back of a chair beside the snoring man.

"Autolycus," Ares said coldly. "Autolycus, wake up, you damn thief."

A large, golden vase was wrapped tightly in the man's arms, but he sat up quickly, startled awake. The vase slipped from his hands and crashed to the floor. He rose from the chair blinking wildly, not even realizing what he'd just done.

Autolycus rubbed his eyes. "What're you doin here?"

Ares cocked his head to the side, as if he had expected such a response from the man.

"Uh… oh. Ares!" Autolycus exclaimed, finally coming to his senses. He clapped the taller man on the back. "I've been waiting for you. Hard day at the office?" he asked, indicating to Ares' busted lip and bruised cheek. "What happened with you? I thought you were done fighting in the rings. I mean, now that Zeus is retired, you own every damn underground fighting ring in the city. You know Ares, you don't have to be some business man by day, Rocky-turned-Tyler Durden by night anymore."

"Yeah, well, you know how it is. When something gets in your blood, you just can't get it out," Ares said, looking down at Autolycus' bleeding arm.

"Right. This is what I came to talk to you about," the man said, holding his injured arm.

Ares sneered, "About how my guard dogs tried to bite off your arm while you were breaking into my room tonight?"

Autolycus just laughed, "Oh please. You're dogs are never a problem. They have a soft spot for those dinosaur shaped dog biscuits."

Ares narrowed his eyes and glowered. He found it frustrating how Autolycus always found a way around his new security measures. It seemed no matter what new trick Ares pulled, Autolycus would just pass it by without much difficulty. But the thief was an asset, and Ares would keep him by his side for as long as he remained loyal and useful."

Ares poured himself a glass of whiskey.

"I wouldn't mind having a glass myself," Autolycus said, in a tone that suggested he and Ares had been the best of friends for years.

Ares cast a shaded look his way and corked the bottle closed.

"Anyway," Autolycus said, masking his hurt. "I did run into a dog. A damned huge german shepherd," he said, a pained grimace on his face. "But no one can catch the King of Thieves off guard! I locked the beast in a fucking closet."

"Before or after it bit you?" Ares asked in a bored tone, while kicking at the broken pieces of the gold vase that littered the floor.

"Who in the world would do such a thing?!" Autolycus exclaimed in faux shock throwing his eyes to the broken pieces.

Ares just rolled his eyes and downed his entire glass of the imported whiskey.

Autolycus coughed. "Getting to the point… I was robbing some shit hole apartment on the south side of town. You know, not for anything worthwhile, but just for a good adrenaline rush. That's when the dog attacked me. But the owner... damn, I've never seen anyone so good at dodging my attacks! She acted as if the tire iron I was swinging at her head was –"

"Her?" Ares asked, an image of the tall, foul-mouthed mechanic flashing in his mind's eye. He pushed away the thought. It made no sense why he'd think of her right now, much less why he'd ever think of her. She'd just dismissed him like he was a nobody. Ares reminded himself that it was she who was the nobody.

"Yeah, a her," Autolycus said. "She was like damn near six feet tall, black hair, you know, a real nice ass, and a tight little white tank top showing off those nice –"

Ares slammed his empty glass on the table. "And her arms were covered in oil and grease from working on cars all day too, am I right?" he asked, almost sarcastically, his eyes narrowing.

"What? You know her?" the thief asked.

"No," Ares gritted out, but it was a lie. Now there was no doubt in his mind that the sarcastic grease monkey he had met earlier was the same woman Autolycus had just run into.

Autolycus smirked. "Uh huh. Yeah, so what'd she do to you? She tied me up with some electrical cables."

Ares quirked a brow.

"It wasn't as kinky as it sounds, trust me. She was gonna have her little friend call the cops."

Ares moved to fill another glass with whiskey. "But unfortunately, you escaped…?" Ares offered to finish the story.

"Unfortunately? You probably mean fortunately. I think you've had too much to drink tonight, my rich friend," Autolycus said as he moved to take the glass from Ares' hand.

Ares pushed him away. "Clever, friend," he said, impatiently extending his hand palm up and snapping his fingers.

Autolycus just sighed and gave Ares back the silver ring he had just swiped from the man's finger.

"You still haven't made your point, Autolycus," Ares said, sliding the ring back on his finger. "And it's damn near four in the morning. I'm tired."

"Well, I came here hoping to get some info about this doll."

"Why, because she beat you up?"

Autolycus ignored the comment. "I thought there might be a possibility that she was one of yours," Autolycus said. "I mean one of your underground fighters. Guess not," he shrugged. But also," he continued, "because of this."

The thief pulled a curved dagger with a leather and jade hilt from his pocket.

Ares stared at the blade, the muscles in his face twitching. "You stole this off of her?" he asked, his voice suddenly taking on a darker tone.

"Well, not exactly off her, but I did find it in her bedroom," Autolycus said. "It was locked in some chest. Of course, I had no problem opening the chest..."

"That's one of Draco's daggers," Ares said, interrupting Autolycus' little bragging fest. "He only gives these to his closest and most loyal men."

"And women," Autolycus added.

Ares snatched the blade and its small sheath from Autolycus' hand. "Where'd you say she lives?" Ares asked, sliding the dagger in the back of his waistband.

"Hey! Now I stole that fair and square, so it's mine."

Ares threw Autolycus a dark look that told the man the issue was not up for conversation.

Autolycus nodded. "Of course, Ares. It's yours," he quickly conceded. "And uh… the broad lives at 1440, or was it… shit. Well, she lives in that tall apartment complex over on Palmer."

"Take me there," Ares ordered, as he threw on a black leather jacket over his white dress shirt.

"Now?" Autolycus asked. "I mean, I gotta get this wound wrapped up. Why don't we just go…" he didn't need to finish the sentence. He could take a hint, as he watched Ares check the bullets in a S&W semi auto.

"Sure. Why don't we just go now," Autolycus said nervously.

A/N: Sorry this one is a bit shorter than the others. The next one should have some action in it! And yes. Ares is billionaire business man, but he also seems to have some shady dealings in the underworld of the city. Something about him running a fighting ring? XD And what in the world could Xena be doing with Draco? hmm....

© 2009 kungfuwarrior