Disclaimer: All the Buffy characters are, of course, property of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy productions. I'm making no money in writing this, but am rather using it as an exercise to keep my creative writing muscles from atrophying post college. Additional disclaimers will follow as needed.

Author's note: This story is actually a series of short stories, centered around Xander and Dawn traveling around the country post-"Chosen" in search of newly called slayers. Each story will take place in a different region, with different people and new characters all along the way. Hope you all enjoy it!

Summary: Several months after the events of "Chosen", the Scooby Gang has managed to set up the rudimentary beginnings of a slayer institute in Cleveland, OH. Only problem is, they're going to need some more students . . . . Xander and Dawn have taken up the role of Slayer Trackers, traveling the country following leads to various members of the chosen many.

Roads Less Traveled

by Casix Thistlebane


"Alright." Xander set a battered milk crate into the trunk of his car. "We've got road flares, a tire pressure gage, four quarts of oil, windshield wiper fluid, jumper cables, paper towels, and anti-freeze. There's a fresh full-sized spare, tire iron, and jack. We just got the oil changed, fuel injector has been freshly cleaned, new battery, windshield wipers, and even a new air filter, because Willow was swayed by the old 'only fifteen dollars extra' deal. I'd say the car stuff is ready."

Dawn swung a large duffel bag in next to the milk-crate-o-auto-gear; it settled with a few clanks. "Crossbow, battle ax, twenty stakes, a stake carving knife, crosses, holy water, and two swords. Are we sure we have enough weapons?"

Xander nodded, rearranged a suitcase, and shut the trunk. "Including the shotgun, hand-sickle, and morning star of needless bloodshed we've got stowed in the back seat, I think we're covered. And there's more vampire survival goodness in the glove compartment."

"I still don't like this." Buffy leaned against the passenger door, her arms folded tightly over her purple v-neck sweater. "You guys shouldn't be going out there without someone to help protect you."

Dawn rolled her eyes, and shoved a book-bag of essential research material behind the driver's seat. Xander smiled as reassuringly as he could at the senior slayer.

"Like who, Buff? We've been over this." He ticked options off on his fingers. "The new slayers all need to stay here and train. You need to stay here and train them. Giles is working on finding what's left of the Watcher's Council, Wood's setting up teachers so that the girls can all get their GEDs, and Willow is working with the Devon coven to find more slayers. Besides, I doubt we'd be able to convince her to hit the road for untold months without Kennedy, who, as I said, still needs to stay here and train, though she doesn't seem to think so."

"There's still–"

"NO, Buffy. You know Dawn still isn't comfortable with the idea of traveling with Faith. And neither am I, frankly. She's come along way, but I think she'll be better off with a stable place to call home for awhile. I don't want her freaking out and leaving us on the road."

Buffy sighed, looking towards the front door of the hotel they'd spent the last six months renovating into the new Slayer Headquarters. "And I know, with Cleveland being on a Hellmouth, and having something like ten times the population of Sunnydale, we need experienced slayers here." She watched her friend and her sister finish loading up the car. "Are you guys sure you'll be alright?"

"We've got cellphones, Buffy." Dawn held up her tiny new Motorola. "And Willow says if we need it, the Devon coven can arrange a translocation spell to get us help if we really need it." She hefted the morning-star briefly before setting it back under the protective blanket. "Besides, its not like Xander and I are TOTALLY useless."

"Could you at least bring Andrew with you?"

Xander flinched. "God, Buffy, that's like a fate worse than–"

"Xander!" Speak of the guy who runs down below, here was Andrew now, running down the front walk. "I've got a present for you before you go." He skidded slightly on the cobblestones, nearly pitching head first into the passenger side door. Once he regained his footing, he held up a glossy computer printout, his grin splitting his face almost obscenely.

It was a cartoony rendering of a stake and cross. The letters S and M stood out in tall yellow and blue letters.

"It's for the SlayerMobile!" Andrew picked at a corner of the printout, peeling away a white paper backing. "I picked up the printable window transfers at BestBuy this morning!"

"For the last time, Andrew," Xander made his way around the car to the driver's side. "We're not calling it the SlayerMobile."

"Yeah!" Dawn slammed her door shut a little too cheerfully. Xander winced. "It's the Mystery Machine."

"No, Dawn, we're not . . ." Xander tapped his head on the steering wheel, setting off the horn. "It's the car. That's what we're calling it."

"Oh, come on. You guys were the scooby gang, right? And we're off to drive around the country in search of mysteries to solve. It's perfect."

"Hey!" Buffy wrapped a protective arm over Dawn's shoulder. "No solving mysteries. You're looking for slayers. Looking for mysteries is trouble, and we have enough trouble coming to US. Got it?"

"But BUUU-FFFFY," Dawn sniffed pathetically. "Looking for slayers is BOOO-RIIING."

Buffy smiled. It had been way too long since Dawn had pulled out her mystical teenaged whining powers. "Okay, maybe one mystery. No more than that though, or I'll have Willow transdislocate me to wherever you are just so I can ground you."

"Thanks, sis!" Dawn kissed her on the cheek. "You're the best."

"Do you have your laptop?"

Out came the eye-roll again. "Yesssss, and Xander says we'll stop wherever we find an internet café so I can keep up with Robin's lesson plan."

Buffy shook her head. "You don't know how lucky you are, Dawn, I would have killed to get home schooling privileges."

"What," Xander stood, leaning against the roof. "And miss out on all those amazing hellmouthy adventures we had?"

"God, yes. Now hurry up, we're all waiting to say good-bye."

"Yes'm." Xander gave the back seat one last scan, then shut the door. "Come on, let's get this show on the road."


"And promise you'll call me if that eye acts up AT ALL."

"I know, Wills." Xander lifted his left hand to his face, only to have it slapped away by the redhead.

"Don't touch it!"

The moment Xander's eye-socket had healed enough for a prosthetic, Willow had insisted on enchanting it. The spell had come straight from the white magic books, with the approval of the coven, and Willow had spent hours working out how to avoid any nasty side effects that might occur. So Xander once again had full 20/20 vision, with the added perk of being able to "see" the slayer essence surrounding a girl through his left eye. The only trouble they'd found so far was that Xander had to be careful what he did with it should he take it out, as he saw through it no matter where it was. The resulting skewed vision tended to leave him very off balance.

But everyone was still waiting for the other shoe to drop; for the enchantment to go bad.

"I have to touch it sometimes," Xander hugged the witch to him tightly. "Gotta keep it clean."

Willow squeezed him back. "The first one's in Maryland. Near DC."

"I know."

"We'll call as we find more,"

"Willow, I KNOW."

"Send postcards?"

"And emails, every day. And we've got unlimited nights and weekends, so we'll call and check in."

"Not while driving." Willow's head was on his shoulder, her eyes shut. "And don't be stupid. If there's trouble–"

"We'll be okay." Xander pulled back, looking in her eyes. They were bright and rimmed in red. "I promise. We'll send the slayers back to you, and be home before you know it."

"Liar." One final hug, and she stepped away. Dawn was finishing up with Buffy, and it was time to leave.

The two slayer trackers gave their final hugs, settled into the car, and left. Willow, Buffy, and Giles stood together on the curb, watching the tail lights disappear around the corner. They turned to head back into the hotel.

The car swung back around and parked. Dawn leaped out.

"What'd you forget?" Buffy smiled. Dawn couldn't go anywhere without turning back at least once.

"Tooth brush!" She swept past them. "And road maps!"