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Shizune sat by herself, as usual. She watched the underclassmen walking by, seeing several of them give her uncomfortable looks. She wanted to go talk to them, maybe give them some guidance or just say hi. It was impossible. Most of them couldn't understand her, and the few who could, knew her and avoided her.

She wondered where Hisao and Misha were today. She never saw them outside of class anymore. Even in class, neither one would talk to her. They gave her odd looks and spoke to each other, but neither would sign to her at all.

At first, she'd tried confronting them, but Hisao just got angry and Misha just cried and ran away.

The next few days, she'd approached both of them quietly while they were alone. Both encounters were incredibly awkward.

She'd cornered Misha in the Student Council room one afternoon so that her friend couldn't run. When she stood there signing, asking what was wrong, Misha just cried again and wouldn't even look her in the face.

Before, Shizune couldn't keep Misha off of her, and she'd unconsciously grown to depend on her. Now, that was gone. When she'd tried putting her arms around Misha to hug her, Misha froze, then shuddered and just pushed past her. Shizune was so shocked she couldn't even resist. She just fell to one side and watched her pink-haired friend robotically walk away, out of the Student Council. Misha hadn't been back since.

Shizune was incredibly hurt by that, but she was determined to find out what was going on. The next day, she found Hisao walking around the grounds behind the building, head down. She approached him, and once she had his attention, signed, "What is wrong? Did something happen?"

Hisao looked guilty. Shizune pressed further, "I'm here for you. Please tell me what I can do to help. I hate seeing you and Misha so sad. I'm not sure what's going on, but I want to help."

She saw Hisao grimace, and realized he must be making some kind of miserable laugh.

Was he laughing at her?

This got her a bit angry.

She poked him in the chest and asked, "What? Let me help! Why are you laughing at me?"

He got a shocked look on his face, and shook his head no. He raised his fingers, and started, "I'm not laughing at you. I just... You can't help. Maybe it's best if we just left each other alone. I don't want to hurt anyone else."

Shizune's jaw dropped.

What? What did he think he was doing now?

She started to sign again, anxious but angry. She stopped as Hisao shook his head no. He appeared to sigh, and just turned around and walked away.

She tried to call him. Something she never, ever did. She knew it must sound terrible, as she didn't even know what the words she was trying to say sounded like. His shoulders flinched, but his head lowered and he walked away even faster.

Shizune stared after him, devastated. She felt dizzy and abandoned, and almost fell down, but stiffened her shoulders and went back to her room. She didn't leave it the next day.

That had been two weeks ago. Since then, it felt like the whole school was avoiding her. She saw her classmates glancing at her when they thought she wasn't looking. None of them approached her, though. Well, she knew most of them didn't like her. She was pretty sure she'd seen some of them laughing to each other while looking in her direction. She couldn't believe the breach of protocol, but had no will to put a stop to it.

She thought about Lilly, but her cousin was back in Scotland, for good. They'd patched things up a bit right at the end, but Shizune had no way to talk with her over a phone. She'd tried talking with Hideaki with her notepad, but it was slow, and he really didn't know how to help. She didn't bother asking her father.

Shizune sat on the steps, watching her classmates walk past. She hugged the purple cat Hisao had given her, wondering what she had done wrong and why she couldn't fix it.