I have utterly failed to own The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, or rye whiskey.

Klaus was no stranger to bizarre sensations, like how a void could feel akin to cramped quarters. Or more aptly, how a man could realize how utterly alone he is in a mosh pit. Right now was very much the same in his expansive home. But for the quarters of his family and closest confidantes, he could walk into any one room and stumble upon another vampire, perhaps even a wolf or two from Hayley's pack. Yet Elijah was gone, as were Hayley, Rebekah… and Hope, his dearest daughter.

Rebekah would be home soon, he knew, and she had declined to take Marcellus with her (though the tension between the two had never fully faded, they also politely avoided each other much of the time). As for Marcellus, well, the man would offer him a drink yet only meet 90% of his gaze. Something was going on with him, and old paranoid tendencies threatened to rise and accuse Marcellus of siding with the witch Élodie.

But he had no basis, Klaus knew. And he'd already lost his daughter, the shining light of his life—and Caroline, the brilliant star who never ceased to challenge his perspective. They were heavy hits and massive losses.

Lashing out would not bring them back, no matter how embittered he was over them.

So Klaus vowed to focus his attention on Élodie and the threat she posed. He needed to know why she was conspiring against him, who was on her side, and if anybody else in New Orleans could be trusted aside from the few he had named already. In that capacity he turned to Marcellus, who equally did what was asked while unknowingly doing his best to fill the vacuity Caroline had left once more by criticizing some of his ideas.

He needed a vampire ear in every witch hovel, so he assigned that to Marcellus. Elijah would have been preferable, but his damnable brother had insisted upon at least seeing Hope and Hayley to the end of the continent before parting ways and returning home. And unfortunately, this was a task that could not wait. Marcellus had a rocky history with the witches due to his own previous (and oftentimes still justifiable) prejudices and agendas, but his tongue was as silken as ever. He could smooth over any protests from the remaining witches on New Orleans territory, at least for the time being.

Klaus also needed to discern who remained on his side. That, too, fell in large part upon Marcellus's shoulders.

Though with his daughter gone, the atmosphere was notably airier. Which was more enraging than he would have thought.

The servants felt freer to mingle more often in common areas, something Klaus had hardly noticed before. More chatter filled the halls, at first in interspersed murmurs and more recently into an aggravating cacophony that served little more than to remind him how utterly alone he was. This may have been why Marcellus invited him out for a night out on the town, suggesting they have a good, old-fashioned evening of drinking, blood-letting, and cutting loose some stress for a few hours.

Klaus could drink blood until his belly burst, but it did nothing to sate the true thirst that raged on.

Marcellus seemed to notice, because he steered the night toward a club across the street from the Déjà Vu. Klaus found himself staring out the dingy windows to the strip club's flashing lights. Memories from just weeks past filtered through: seeing Caroline for the first time in a decade, realizing he was still captivated by her overwhelming beauty and strength that shone from the inside out, understanding he was just as frightened as he was eager to hear her voice once more.

And it had led him to a place where misery reigned.

Klaus knocked back several drinks that night. Though he could get drunk—and did—it barely seemed effective.

In just hours he would be sober again. The fresh red blood he had taken in over the night would aid to filter out the toxins of alcohol by the time he resigned himself to resting his head upon his cold, loveless pillow.

Come morning, New Orleans police would discover new victims slaughtered. And the humans left in his good graces would do their damnedest to cover it up, as they had finally recognized the wisdom in remaining in his benevolent favor.

Rebekah would be home within the week and Elijah within the month. Marcellus would not leave his side unless ordered.

Klaus should have been grateful, but that had never been his strong suit.

When he came home, well past the stumbling stage of drunken stupidity and into the frigid arms of sobriety, he chose to make it worse by taking a scalding shower. The heat did nothing to melt the ice coating his flesh.

As he exited the bathroom, barely dry and fully naked, Klaus knew something was off. His senses sharpened, and he whirled to find Aislynn cozied beneath the covers of his bed.

The fool woman, he thought. They could hardly expect him not to find that suspicious, could they?

Then again, Élodie very well might. By now word would have reached the witches of his daughter's absence and Caroline's abandonment. What better way to soothe a man than by stoking the flames of his ego and kindling the heat that burned within every man?

"I do not recall ever inviting you into my home," he said quietly. Dangerously.

Ash lifted her prideful head, her mouth bare of her red lipstick but just as full and twice as sensuous. "You never stop by anymore. Is it so strange to think I've missed you?"

Klaus crept closer, thinking nothing of his nudity. "No, sweetheart, it is so strange for you to think I care."

Hurt slashed her dark eyes, but she masterfully covered it up again. Ash sat up, allowing the sheets to pool in her lap. She, too, wore nothing. Her clothes lay haphazardly upon the floor at the foot of the bed, as though torn off with abandon.

It almost appeared she was staging something.

Before Klaus could say more, a tiny rustle caught his ear. He stood still as though captivated by Ash's pneumatic breasts, not saying a word as a light blur zipped across the room and snapped the witch's neck before she could register the threat.

In a display of sheer disgust, Caroline yanked the witch's body from the bed and dumped her unceremoniously upon the floor. She then turned to face him, her eyes hard and unwavering.

"Well. I'm glad you find companionship so easily," she said in brittle tones.

Klaus folded his arms over his chest, unwilling to display the tumultuous emotions that crashed through him that very moment. "I like to think I have better taste than that."

Sharply, she inquired, "Witches?"

He scoffed. "No, love. Someone in the midst of attempting to kill me."

The tension in Caroline's shoulders rounded and softened a bit. "So you knew, too."

Klaus had a multitude of questions for her, but restricted himself to, "I had hoped to discover how she planned to try, but a dead traitor witch is as good a witch as any."

Closing her eyes briefly, Caroline muttered, "And this is why I question my decisions sometimes."

The hot-cold intensity of seeing her again turned to solid ice. "Why are you here?" he snapped. He also chose then to dress himself. If she was going to pick a fight with him, then she certainly was not going to enjoy any naked part of him.

He also made a mental note to burn his sheets.

Caroline fell silent. Klaus wanted to shake her and demand she answer. Instead he threw on a pair of good jeans and a grey T-shirt before storming to the bed and tearing it free of linens. Down the hall he went, stuffing all the tainted cloth into the fireplace within the study. He then made for the liquor cabinet, uncorking a bottle of rye whiskey and taking a good swig straight from the neck.

Heat exploded then. He turned, and Caroline was beside the now-blazing fire, her golden hair spun to copper in the flickering light. She met his gaze before striding up to him with purpose, taking the bottle from his hands before taking a drink herself. The intensity of the alcohol had her coughing.

And Klaus still stared. Because every movement was purposeful; each action was done with intent and vulnerability. No matter how angry he grew with her, even when he wanted to toss her out the window for her assumptions, despite the apoplectic rage that festered over her infuriating ability to walk in and out of his life as often as she pleased, they both knew he would allow her back in.

After all, he intended to be her last love.

Shaking her head, the whiskey proffered back to him with an extended hand, Caroline finally chose to speak.

"I shouldn't be here. This is crazy and you make things more complicated than even I like, and there are times I outright can't stand you. You're selfish and cruel and lash out at me even when I don't deserve it, but still—" Her voice rose as he opened his mouth to fire back. "—Still I can't shake this… need to see you, and how I feel, and the stupid idea that maybe this is so dysfunctional it could actually work, like—"

She cut herself off there, and Klaus set down the whiskey. He pressed forward, closing the distance between them. The gliding scent of whiskey tumbled from both their mouths as they breathed.

"Like what?" he demanded quietly.

Caroline sighed. "Like… Elena found with Damon. Some crazy stupid how."

Klaus frowned. Hardly a romantic notion, being compared to the childish likes of the lesser Salvatore. And Caroline certainly sold herself short by allowing the comparison between her and the "some crazy stupid how" still-living doppelgänger.

"And I'm still not certain," she admitted, putting a crack in his thoughts. "I can't be tied down to all this, even if I do want to be… around… you."

"Then what do you propose, Caroline?" he asked.

She lifted her chin, blue eyes molten in the light of the fire burning the wretched witch's sheets. "I still get to travel. I come and go as I need to, and you don't stop me. And we use that so I can help you with Hope. Somehow."

There were certainly ways to achieve that, but Klaus could not consider himself pleased with the notion. "It sounds like a grievous waste of your time, love," he said flatly.

"No, it sounds like it's not a guarantee," she countered. "But it's all I can offer."

"And if you decide to leave for good?" he pressed, leaning in until her warm breath tickled his face.

Caroline inhaled deeply, squared her shoulders, and held her ground. "Then you're going to have to deal with the idea you won't be my last."

"But I will be."

"That's on you, isn't it?"

Much more needed to be said. Klaus still wasn't content, could not be satisfied with half-baked ideas and no promises. But that time could wait, and her enticing mouth could not. He pulled her close, entwining himself with her until the heat between them and the roaring fire could not be distinguished. Later, there would be time to renegotiate. Later, they could bicker and argue over the details. Later, they would address the unspoken, crippling question of how eventually bringing Hope back to New Orleans would affect what they built together, without her, without permission.

But that later would indicate finality, and that was not yet to be.

A/N: And that's the end! I've left it open, because... well, being undead kinda leaves things open. Life leaves things open. But perhaps just as importantly, if I find the time and energy, a sequel will need an opening, and this leaves it. Perhaps sometime this summer, after my baby is born. But for now, this is the end of "In the Same Ol' Crescent City." I'm going to focus on Confectionery Klaus (the eventual Klaroline that involves Klaus slowly turning into a Peep) and Bartholomew (a sci-fi AU Klaroline concept I intend to work on here and there since it garnered just enough attention to keep me motivated to address it when I can).

Please let me know what you thought of ItSOCC in the reviews! I've loved most of the reviews so far, and even the ones I disagree with, I love that the story inspired enough to garner a reaction. I always feel that any reaction is better than none, and I'm thrilled to have so many wonderful, consistent reviewers for this journey.

ALSO: If you want an alert for only the sequel to this, I highly recommend following this story and not my author's page where you may be inundated with other projects. I say this because IF/WHEN I am able to get to a sequel, I will be adding an epilogue to this story first. That will be the hint to check out my page for a new story in this same universe.

And if you liked this, please check out my other Klaroline works. And if you still liked that... feel free to check out my original publishings, noted in my Author's page. I largely only write in supernatural YA, so have at it!

Thank you all again so, so much! Until both TVD and TO end, I will always be a Klaroline fan, regardless of what happens to our favorites. What has been, what could have been, and what may be will always fascinate and entice me. I hope to read more fanfic of writers who feel the same!