Willow's head was still ringing when she walked into her hotel room. Kennedy had been forced to do all the packing, what little there was, since Buffy literally had Willow throwing dust on an atlas. There was no joy in Buffyville today. A locator to find one Xander-shaped demon somewhere on this planet was damned near impossible under the best of circumstances, but trying to make a fake spell look convincing was a feat of magic worthy of Merlin himself.
Luckily, Giles was just about the only one in the group who knew enough about magic to call Willow's bluff. The fact that he hadn't meant he was probably too distracted with finding a way to track down the new Slayers or caught up in planning the move to Cleveland. In either case, Giles was seemed to be steering clear of the whole mess. Even so, Willow figured she needed to at least get big bloody nose tomorrow in case someone was paying attention, just to be on the safe side.
She was relieved that no one had yet suggested that using more mundane means for finding and tracking Xander would be easier and probably prove more fruitful. Although Willow wasn't sure she could do it, hacking into his bank and credit card accounts seemed, to her anyway, the easiest way to get a quick bead on where he was spending money.
Not that she was going to be the one to bring up that fact. Let someone else think of it. Should the idea pop into anyone's head, she was pretty sure she could just as convincingly fake doing something computer-y. There really wasn't anyone in their group who knew enough about computers to naysay her if she said she tried her best and still came up empty. Not that she was all that confident in her computer abilities these days. Hacking was a game that belonged only to the focused, and she'd been focused on other things these past few years.
Still, she was worried and wished she could find him if only to know that he was okay. It killed her that the group's stance on Xander's decision to leave made it impossible for her to do more than wish.
Well, there was at least one thing she could do.
Willow sat at the computer, cracked her knuckles like a concert pianist, and began typing Xander's username and password into his Yahoo account. She grimaced when she landed an invalid password message.
That answered one question. Xander was probably checking his email. It also meant that he was covering his tracks by making sure that snooping redheads wouldn't be able to easily find out when he had access to a computer. Willow wasn't sure if that was a good or bad thing.
The witch sat and thought. If Xander were going to pick a new password, what would it be? She figured her encyclopedic knowledge of all things Xander would help her hit on the right word and she began methodically typing a series of passwords that she thought sure would get her in.
Nothing doing. She had tried everything from Sunnydale landmarks to science fiction terms. It seemed to her that she should have hit on something, given everything she knew about him. Which meant that Xander had probably picked a password that would be impossible for her to figure out if she tried typing random words and numbers into the field.
She drummed her fingers on the hotel desktop, furious that she had let her once-sparkling hacker skills deteriorate. Once upon a time, she would've hit the Yahoo server, bypassed the security, and retrieved what she needed. The problem was that she had so come to rely on magic in prior years that her computer skills had been reduced to using search engines. It didn't help that technology had raced by her while she continued relying on the easy route.
You could always use magic. That would get you in and get you what you need,DarkWillow snickered in the back of her mind.
Go away,Willow mentally answered. Still, can't deny the facts. If she really wanted to, she could do just that.
Except she wasn't sure she really wanted to, especially since he'd made it clear by changing his password that he wanted to be left alone. If she did what her darker instincts demanded, she'd be no different than the obsessed Buffy down the hall or the people who believed that Xander should be locked up on the off chance that he'd go evil. She'd done enough damage to him; she just couldn't bear to bang one more nail in the coffin that held their dead friendship. For once, she needed to trust Xander's instincts about what was right, instead of trying to impose her own ideas.
And she wanted him to know that at least one person in this world cared enough about him to let him go and wish him luck.
With a tiny nod, she opened her own email account to compose a message:
From: taraswtcywillow @ hotmail. com
To: xanscbyandcptr @ yahoo. com
Wherever you are, I hope you're okay. I'm sending this on the off chance you're checking email.
This message has to be short, because I don't know who'll walk in and I'm not the only one with access to the computer, so whatever you do, DON'T RESPOND!
Right now everyone here is hunting for you. Lay low. Be careful. Whatever you do, don't draw attention to yourself. And dump the car. Buffy's reported it stolen.
I'm doing everything at my end to stall so at least you have a head start. In a few days, I'm going to 'discover' that you're somewhere in Europe, so whatever you do, don't go there.
I wish I could do more to help, especially since I still owe you one yellow crayon.