YOUR OWN RELIGION

He didn't kill Lilly. He has drilled this information into his head every morning when he wakes up since last May, when it was finally proven true. He didn't kill Lilly – his parents were stupid and make a mistake, thought he'd killed her. He hadn't, and now Aaron Echolls will rot like the garbage he is.

He didn't kill Lilly. Everyone thought he did. He's starting to get bitter about it, honestly.

Aaron Echolls was always a psycho, and everyone knew it, but they chose a long time ago to brush it under the rug and cover it in glittering tinsel. Logan wound up bleeding and bruised at their doorstep one too many times for Duncan to be okay with that, but he knew Neptune and nothing would happen unless Aaron allowed it. Lilly knew too – she must have seen Logan's belt marks, and Duncan can't get his head around it, because apparently she didn't care.

He always thought Lilly, under it all, would always care for the people closest to her and would always do the right thing. But maybe he never knew his sister at all, because he never would have expected this. She knew Aaron Echolls was dangerous and scary; knew the possibility of anyone finding out would be first thing possible for Aaron; knew she was flirting with death by fucking him. Duncan now knows Lilly was a self-destructive mess, far too caught up in her own hurricane to care about something as petty as death, and Duncan can't help but be mad at her for it because she was his big sister and wasn't she meant to know he needed her? Wasn't she meant to care?

His parents fucked everything up; letting Aaron go free for over a year in their frenzied attempt to protect their son. He was always the favorite and he knows it, and that's wrong, because even if Lilly was screwed up, she would have to be better at this whole thing than him. If he was the dead one (not that he'd fuck Aaron Echolls, but just for the sake of the hypothetical), Lilly would cry, and be mad, but she's still be there, because she didn't need him like he needed her. She knew how to keep herself in place without him there to hold her down, and he doesn't, and the best he can offer is this bland paper mache thing that maybe looks a little like good ol' Duncan Kane. Even if Lilly was out of her mind, and even if she's now rotting six feet under, she's still worth more than him.

He held her body and he can't even remember – her ruined pep squad uniform, her blood, the chunks of hair and skin ripped off her head to let the brains and life pour out. He wishes he could remember; remember her spilling all over the pavement and covering him with her death. He can't get that sense of closure ever again, and he could have been the lucky one who felt her die but this thing in his brain won't let it be so.

He can't believe his parents got it so wrong, but maybe he always looked like potential-psycho. The Veronica thing would only have made things worse for them, and he can't really blame them for jumping to conclusions, except he can because it was him and Lilly and he needed her more than anything in this life; how could anyone believe he would hurt her? But believe they did, instilling the thought in themselves like the holy text of their own private religion. They locked everyone else out, pointing the finger at this poor Koontz guy, and who didn't get a say in any of this? Oh yeah, poor little Duncan who the whole thing revolved around anyway.

And even if he had killed Lilly, the thing would have been stupid, given why he was such a mess that week anyway – there was nothing wrong with him and Veronica, now, someone just had to believe it. He didn't believe it; how could he with what his mother had told him?

He didn't think before he took the drink, because why the hell wouldn't he trust Logan? Veronica's told him about what happened now, and he still wants to trust Logan. He didn't even feel the drugs and he never knew his own excuse; he never would have been with her if not for that. And he woke up with his head pounding and his morals returned, and he just run and broke her; he never wanted to hurt her but that's exactly what he did.

He knows he didn't trust Logan once, and he hates himself for it. His father has told him point blank he killed Lilly, then Veronica offered her alternate solution – Logan – and he was just desperate enough to believe it; God, when did he become such a selfish bastard? He was desperate enough to believe anything other than he could have killed her, and he realizes he honestly did think he has killed her and forgotten it – he was just as stupid as his parents had been.

The tapes proved Logan hadn't done anything wrong, but somehow the whole thing didn't connect in Duncan's head. He still can't look at Logan without seeing Aaron's smug face as he fucks Lilly, and that's cruel to Logan, who loved Lilly and wants more than anything not to be associated with his father in any way, but Duncan can't help it.

He still sees Lilly everywhere with her peppy laugh and oozing head, and it should have all gotten better with her killer behind bars, but it hasn't. He can't remember the last thing he said to her and he can't remember holding her corpse close; he barely remembers her funeral or the feel of Veronica's soft body against him in sleep. He didn't want to hurt anyone, and he didn't do a thing to Lilly, and it was all so unfair because he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time; a stupid little boy led to the sacrificial altar like a lamb, and he never got the full truth or even a chance to speak for himself.

He didn't kill Lilly, and everyone knows it now. That should be enough; enough to take back the pain and let him start afresh. It's not. Dear God, how it is not.

But he knows himself too well. He's Duncan Kane, and he's the world champion at pretending that things are enough for him.