Hello! It's me, back with another dark modern au! (Yep, trying something toootally different this time) (hehe, what's a comfort zone?) It's loosely based off the concept for Chasing Thunderstorms by Foxy'sgirl which, by the way, is and probably always will be my favourite fanfic ever. However, I'm going to take it in a completely different direction. So come on in, I hope you enjoy!

Astrid pulled down the long sleeves of her thin but stiflingly warm red sweater. It was swampingly baggy on her thin figure, coming to her thighs where mostly comfortable, warn and ripped jeans started. Even so, she felt exposed.

She knew everyone was watching her.

She knew they were analysing every little part of her.

Some with disdain, some with awe, some with undisguised lust and some with complete, bitter hatred; but everyone had an opinion.

A familiar mop of auburn caught her eye. That pale, nerdy looking guy she didn't know the name of but saw every day. Oh, she wished she was him. No one looked at him twice, no one stared, no one judged. His thin shoulders were hunched protectively and he curled in on himself, looking wary and a little bit pathetic. She wished she could do that too. But no, her back was painfully straight and she was striding purposefully to class like she owned the school, not because she thought she did, but because she couldn't afford not to. Couldn't afford to let her impenetrable mask slip even for a second. Because she knew she was being watched by the whole school and any wrong move would be pounced on, the vultures diving in to peck apart the pieces.

So she strode through, steadfastly ignoring everyone and pretending to be innocent to the sneers and giggles, all the stupid, usual reactions to her entrance. No one reacted to his entrance. If he missed a school day, the only ones who would notice may be his physics teacher and his fat blond friend. If she missed a day of school, the rumours would range from kidnapping by a world renowned criminal to skiving off to go graffiti on walls and learn parkour to a fight with a circus ringleader to terminal cancer and anything in between. Ha, if only they knew the real reason she usually missed school.

That would shut them up.

After stalking through the crowd and slamming her locker with satisfying force, she took her usual seat beside Rachel who chattered on about the latest destruction her twin brother caused, the finer points of the polish accent and how she should totally cut her hair to look like Marilyn Monroe. Or maybe not.

"Hey, Ruff?"

"Yeah?"

"Shut up."

To be fair, she expected the kick to her ankle, just as Ruffnut expected the jab to her side and they both totally anticipated the way the teacher would turn a blind eye and let them continue their childish squabble. And thus began another day in the oh so perfect life of Astrid Hofferson.

Please review, I'll update as soon as I can.