Parker envies Veronica.

If she'd start like that, you'd expect it's about Logan, the shared boyfriend – though it hurts and she's never quite going to measure up, that's not it. Parker's issue with Veronica is the exact same as her issue with every single other person; it's all the fault of Mercer fucking Hayes. And obviously, some other boy Veronica's never bothered identifying.

They don't talk about it. Veronica seems to be choosing repression; Mac, for whatever reason, clearly doesn't know. Veronica blew Parker of the only time she tried to talk to Veronica about it, to find some solidarity beyond "this happened and it sucks." Parker hates the fact that Veronica gets that option, where she gets to choose to lie to the whole world because they didn't shave her fucking head so everyone knew.

With her, people always seem to be staring. Whenever anyone meets her they recognize the name; they think a few seconds and think: Wait, isn't that the girl who got... Oh. It's now what defines her and she just knows it hurts them when she acts normal; along with her body, her hair, Mercer stole her identity as well, and it all stings so bad.

Logan knows about Veronica; it had come up once. They were awkward and avoided that topic for the rest of the night; Parker was half tempted to ask Logan questions, which he may or may not know the answer to. How? Who? Why won't she talk about it?

She wonders if Logan feels guilty, for having been Mercer's friend. He confessed to her once, offering penance: I told Veronica Mercer couldn't possibly have been the rapist. I thought he was in Mexico with me the time of Nancy's rape. I'm sorry. And she had nodded, and accepted the apology without a second thought, because that was what Parker Lee did. Veronica wouldn't, she knew that – Veronica was the hardened one made of steel; she'd be enraged if she was Parker and Parker was her (God how Parker wants that). Then again, Veronica was always the more rational, cool-headed one of the two victims, so wouldn't she be the one to accept Logan couldn't have known? Maybe Parker's projecting, she's not sure.

She doesn't know if Veronica ever figured out who did it, or why. Sometimes she sees an odd look in her friend's eyes when she looks at Mac, but she's not sure what that means. Parker never truly figured out why Mercer did it either, and never particularly cared to, but when the press keeps going on and on and on about the trial; trying to analyze the villain of the year and figure out how he works, they make it hard for her to forget.

She's heard about the last one, villain of last year – a deranged boy, abused and desperate to hide the fact. Mac had told her little details about her dead ex-boyfriend, but it had taken some reading until she realized they were the same person. That had explained a lot about Mac. She wondered if it would happen again, if her monster would also have something lurking in the shadows, strangling him. She hoped not, a lot for herself and a little for him.

She isn't a person, not anymore. People don't think she's a person; even Mac, Veronica, Logan, it flickers behind their eyes every time she adjusts her wig a little. Veronica hadn't head to deal with that; the stubble on her head to be contained and concealed, a constant reminder of what happened. Veronica gets to forget and just live, while Parker gets left in the dust. They don't notice that she was – is – more than just a body for Mercer and how private the whole thing (which happens to be a public spectacle, yay!) is – that it was HER hair he shaved off and gave to his minion, that it was HER vagina he moved his penis in until he came. It wasn't Dawn's, or Stacy's, or Nancy's, or Veronica's – it was hers.

It's not a lie, when she says she's okay – when she tells her therapist she's moving on. That's what's best, isn't it? To return, to be the original Parker, to be a person again? Had Veronica chosen that? Parker doesn't think so, as even if she didn't know why Veronica was so hardened and cynical on their first meeting, she knew something happened. At the time she chalked it up to Lilly Kane, and that was still probably a factor. She thought of what Veronica told her about her life, coupled with the date she gave for the rape – had she been naive, to go a party where she knew everyone hated her? Was she naive, to go to the Pi Sig party during Rush Week when she knew that frat had been connected with the rapes?

Veronica hadn't asked these questions; Veronica had stood alone. Veronica hadn't spent months and months comparing herself to other raped girls, Veronica hadn't had anyone tell her what happened to them. Veronica had options and damage control, and people saw something else when they looked at Veronica. The sperm that anonymous bastard had pumped into her was hidden, buried under a world-weary shell. Sometimes Parker thinks that would have been her, if not for how she lost her hair – would that, honestly, be worse? The way people talk, you'd think so, but Veronica seems to hurt less under a hard surface. Parker never stops hurting; 'okay' is only truth comparatively.

Veronica can't trust people, she doesn't have to trust people. She watches carefully and doesn't party, she doesn't have to remember the fact she's a fucking serial number. Veronica is cynical and doesn't forget the monsters in the dark; she's never going to be naive enough to walk back into the wild party and take a drink. Parker might be, and it scares her.

But Veronica is no longer that girl.