A/N: This is an alternate ending to Instincts, which should be considered the real ending, as I was never happy about how I left it. The original idea had been to write a sequel which dealt with the repercussions of Tara's choice, but I have not gotten around to writing it. I am in the process of thinking up ideas for a sequel and have someone willing to beta for me if people wish me to do so, if not, then this new chapter can serve to end the tale to the satisfaction of those who did not like how the story ended.
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy or any of the other characters. They belong to Joss Whedon.
Paring: Xander/Tara, Xander/Faith
Xander sat looking out over the former hidden demon's camp, as the sun rose. He had freed the survivors of his race. They would no longer be hunted by the demons, however now they had to decide what they should do. The hard part was they were all looking to him to make the decision; they all seemed to treat him now as the leader of the renewed tribe.
"You ok, Xan?" he heard Faith's voice behind him.
"I don't know what to do now Faith. They all want me to make a huge decision for them, as if I'm a leader," Xander replied.
"To them you are," she replied, as she sat next to him.
"I had two objectives here Faith. Rescue my sister and Tara and destroy the demons and that was all," Xander told her as he faced her.
"Maybe Xan, but in their eyes, your victory proved you are the strongest of them all, which gives you the right to lead them or that's how Sara explained it to me," Faith shot back.
"Great, I didn't come here to become a leader. We came looking for answers to what was happening to me, remember?" he sighed.
"And we found them and a whole lot more," Faith said with a smile.
"I know Faith, but still if I do this, it will change my whole life and I get the feeling I can never walk away from it, once I do chose this way," Xander replied with a shake of his head. "I don't know if I am ready for something like that," he admitted.
"I think you are Xan, as long as Tara is by your side," Faith said gently, with a soft smile and noted how Xander's face lit up at the mention of Tara, causing her to chuckle briefly before she continued. "And remember Kari, Sara and I will be with you as well," she reminded him.
Xander looked at her for a few moments, before he smiled and nodded his agreement, knowing she had a point. With Tara by his side he would be willing to take on the role of leader for the renewed tribe and with his sister, Faith and Sara he knew he would have help to ensure he did not fail them.
Sara looked up to where Xander and Faith sat talking. She guessed he wasn't too sure of his new role. She turned around, as Eric walked up with Jenny close behind him.
"What do you think he'll do?" Eric wondered, as he watched the two young people.
"He'll stay, I'm sure of it. However I don't think Tara will. Her feelings are very mixed up between Xander and Willow," Sara said with a shake of her head.
"Guess we'll just have to wait and see," Jenny said, as she noticed Tara and Willow at the edge of the camp.
Tara couldn't help but feel the confusion radiating off Xander, as he tried to make a decision not just for himself, but also for the survivors of their entire race. Her own feelings were too mixed up as well to be any real help to him. She didn't know what to do now that everything had been sorted.
She loved Xander she was sure of it, but she also still loved Willow and she knew Willow still loved her, no matter what had transpired. If she left Xander and her people to return to Sunnydale and stay with Willow, she wondered how Xander would react. She knew Faith would never leave his side. She loved him, no matter how much she tried to hide it. She could sense it. Xander loved her too, but his feelings were buried deep inside.
"Tara?" she heard Willow ask hesitantly.
She turned to face her girlfriend, noting the lines of worry on her face. Willow didn't know what was running through her head. Would she stay with Xander or leave? She still didn't know herself.
"Give me a minute Will," she replied, before turning away and looking at the rising sun.
She already knew where her heart lay and that was with Xander. He was the other half of her soul. The one thing she had been missing her whole life and she doubted she could leave him behind, now that they had found each other. She loved him and she could not hide from that fact and nor would she want to.
She knew Willow would get over her in time and find someone else to love and live her life with, but Xander would never have another love, but her, even though he was close to Faith, he would not cross that boundary again, because of her their bonding. She closed her eyes and felt him almost as if he was standing besides her, hugging her close and she knew she could not lose this feeling, not now.
Xander looked down from his position and noticed the outlines of Tara and Willow, he could feel how mixed up she felt and he could understand it, but he doubted she would leave him.
Her relationship with Willow had slowly evaporated as events had played out, doubts and fear had clouded her judgment and weakened her connection to Tara and in the end she was not bonded to Tara as he was. Even now he could feel almost as if she was next to him and Willow would never be able to understand that and worse she would always live in fear of his shadow and that would eventually lead to her destroying the relationship. If Tara went back to Sunnydale with her, her fear and insecurities would probably get the best of her.
No, he and Tara belonged to one another from now until death and he had accepted that once he knew of their connection. It made his soul sing and his heart beat fasted just thinking about her. He looked to Faith and decided to head down to talk to the others and say goodbye to Buffy and the gang. He knew they would meet again, but it would be a very different meeting.
Tara opened her eyes and came to her decision. She would not and could not leave Xander now. She loved him too much and the idea of leaving him behind? It almost killed her to even think about it. Her time with Willow was at an end and whilst she would remember their relationship fondly, she could not continue to say she loved the red headed witch as those feelings had slowly wilted and died, leaving only a passing attraction left and the feeling of friendship.
Likewise her time with the Scooby gang was at an end and it was time for her to step into a new role in life and that was as Xander's wife and joint ruler of the renewed tribe. She felt joyful at thinking about the future that awaited her, knowing she could continue to reconnect to her mother and deepen her relationship with Xander. She turned to see Xander slowly walking towards her mother, Eric and Jenny, who were now talking to Giles and Wesley and she knew it was time.
"Willow, I've made my choice," she said turning to face Willow.
"And what have you decided?" Willow asked, hoping against hope that Tara had chosen her and not Xander, she prayed she would keep her girlfriend.
"I'm sorry Willow, I just don't love you anymore, not like I used to," Tara replied, as gently as she could. "Xander is my future, he is my other half in a way you could never be or understand and I think you know that," she added. "We are bonded and that is not going to go away, in fact it will get stronger as we age according to my mother. Our time has been good for us both, but it is at an end and I'm sorry that this hurts to hear, but it's over," she stated, noting the tears that began to fall in Willow's eyes, but she refused to go back on her choice.
Willow stared at Tara for a few seconds, feeling as if she was crushed before she turned and ran, knowing it was all over and she felt a dark rage in the bottom of her gut and wished Xander and Faith had never returned to Sunnydale.
Tara watched her go and shook her head, feeling depressed at having hurt Willow, but knowing she had made the right choice. She turned and walked quickly to Xander's side and he pulled her into his side and kissed her and she eagerly returned the kiss with as much passion as she could.
"Will you stay?" Sara asked, taking hope from this action as they broke apart.
"Yes, I am staying mom, this is where I belong," Tara responded with a small smile. "Willow will recover in time. I didn't want to hurt her, but this is what I had to do," she added.
Sara nodded and pulled her daughter into a tight hug as Kari joined them. She felt at peace for the first time in so long and she hoped that nothing would go wrong and disturb that in the future.
An hour later the two groups were standing at the gates to the former demon camp. Xander couldn't bring himself to smile, as he came to the moment of truth to see if Tara would stay or go.
"Xander, are you sure about this?" Giles asked.
"They need me Giles and I'm sure," he replied, shaking the older man's hand.
"We've already put the spell that hid this camp back up, you'll be safe," Wesley added.
"And for that we thank you, as well as for helping us put an end to this nightmare," Eric said, stepping forward.
"You're welcome," Buffy said with a smile, although it was slightly strained. Although she knew this had been the right thing to do, it had also cost Willow her lover. It had upset Willow deeply and she was angry because of it and Oz even more so. He was in the car comforting the distraught redhead, much to the annoyance of Anya.
"I'm glad we sorted everything out between us Buffy. It was high time we dealt with it and I have no regrets of coming back to Sunnydale," Xander said. "Our past is settled and our future awaits us," he said with a grin as he pulled Tara against him and she placed her head on his shoulder feeling content.
"And if you ever need us Buffy, just give us a call and we'll come, same goes for you Angel. We are not turning our backs on the war, just changing who we represent," Faith added. "The tribe comes first, but we are still allies," she added.
"I can understand that Faith and I must say that I am proud of both you and Xander on how far you've come from the two troubled teens that left Sunnydale," Giles said with a smile, which was echoed by Wesley. "You've found your place in the world and whilst it was not without cost, I believe in the end it was worth it in more ways than one," he went on.
"You'll always be welcome here guys, just take care of yourselves and help Willow recover from this," Xander stated. "She won't want to talk to me for a long while and I can live with that, but she will need help," he added.
"She'll get it," Buffy said giving him and Faith a brief hug and then Tara as well, before she and the others turned and headed for their cars and left. The last thing Tara saw was Willow's red stained eyes staring at her, but again she felt she had made the right choice.
The group soon split up and Xander and Tara headed to their new house. The camp had few real homes, but more could be built and would be. They had all the time in the world. They quickly snuggled up against each other on the bed and watched as the sun began to shine brightly.
"I have no regrets of finding you Tara. You are my heart and soul and I will never leave you," he told her and watched her smile.
"I feel the same way," she responded before they leaned in and began to kiss each other as hard as they could, making sure the other could feel the passion they felt for one another, ready to face the future together.