When Lilly was alive, she would suck the energy from everything around her. Duncan always knew that; no-one could help being drawn into the vortex of Lilly, no matter how hard they tried. She would build herself up and surround herself with these captivated followers, incapable of resisting. No-one ever understood it like Duncan did though: Lilly was needy; she had created a form for herself that she alone could never hope to fill – so she used the people around her, to buffer herself up. Nobody minded. Duncan least of all.

And then she died.

Then that spirit they let her hold vanished. She wasn't there to lend it back to them. Everyone had bound themselves so tightly to the soul of Lilly Kane that going on without her seemed impossible, or maybe only Duncan thinks that way. He can't understand how anyone could feel like the world is still the way it was when she is dead.

Maybe he's really the dead one – after all, Lilly permeates everything. Her smile, her laugh, everything about her – Duncan never quite loses track of her. God how he wants to. But him – he's not even there. No-one ever seems to see him; it's like he's a fuzzy outline where Duncan Kane should be. People remember something ought to be there, but they can remember what.

The world doesn't seem real to him nowadays either. It's like a blurry collection of objects; he fumbles his way through it, bit it's not the world he knew. Not the world Lilly knew. But that world probably never existed, so whatever.

Hell, maybe if the world isn't real then he's not damned forever – poor little Veronica. That soul Lilly had taken into the afterlife had let this epic, gaping chasm in Neptune. A chasm easily filled by making her – Lilly's best friend, the girl they used to love – hurt. And Duncan just sat back and let it happen, because looking at her was too damn hard.

Then that night happened and... There was no excuse for it, he knows that. Either part of it. He was drunk, he was hurting; he was scared, he couldn't crush her faith in her mother (any more than it had already been crushed). They're all empty – he was a freak and then he was a coward. Thinking about it makes him ill. Thinking about it makes him miss her. Maybe Veronica was the one part of him that escaped Lilly's black hole, but she's so very forbidden now and it feels like he's being taunted.

When Lilly was alive, he never worried about being too attached to her. Anyone else would be mocked for hanging out with his big sister as much as Duncan did, but he and Lilly were different. She needed him and he needed her; she was the inspiration to his rationality, he the constant to her variable. She was the fire, he was the ice. He was the yin, she was the yang. And he never stopped the think about how they had sewed themselves together with string, because he never stopped to think it would be possible for her to just be gone.

It's not fair. Lilly didn't do anything wrong, neither did he. Abel Koontz went after her because of his father's "crimes", and those were comparatively minor.

It's not fair that he keeps expecting to hear her in the mornings; loud and bright and perky and waking him up far too early. It's not fair that he has to force himself not to run to Veronica and embrace her when he sees her receive her millionth taunt. It's not fair that his parents will barely look at him anymore, not wanting to see Lilly reflected in his eyes. It's not fair that the jokes and smiles of the people he knows bounce right off him. It's not fair that he wakes up after dreaming about Veronica, and he runs to the bathroom and pukes. It's not fair that he can't hear anything anymore through the constant ringing of Lilly's laughter. It's not fair that he swallows that round white pill and can't bring himself to ask why, or why not, because he doesn't deserve the answer.

If Lilly was here, she would be appalled. Would whack him over the head and tell him to snap out of it; tell him to get it together and help Veronica and help himself; not to blindly follow his mother or the crowds or whoever would let him hide in the shadows. If Lilly was here, she would stare at him with her patented "God, you're a dumbass" look, and tell him: "Jesus, be normal again!"

If Lilly was here. But she's not. Lilly is dead, she always will be and that shouldn't even be possible, but it is and it's true. It's just kind of sad that she took Duncan with her.