When Mihashi stood up on the mound and his heart beat erratic, two outs two strikes, Abe’s glove stood out steady and sure while his fingers signed in a language just for the two of them. Slider, curve, straight, they said, and also “I believe in you.”
When Mihashi was nervous and crying, Abe took Mihashi’s hand in his own and squeezed until his fingertips turned red and their faces did the same. Mihashi hiccoughed and Abe stared and squeezed harder, and his hands told Mihashi “We’re in this together.”
When Mihashi stood shyly in the corner, watching his team mates laugh and joke and stuff their faces, brief scuffles over the last tuna roll, Abe gripped his wrist, firm and insisting, and dragged him to a cushion in the center of everything. And as the crowd chattered at and around him, Abe’s hand, warm on Mihashi’s back, told him “You’re a part of this team.”
And when the two of them sat exhausted in front of the TV after practice, Abe’s hand crept to the back of Mihashi’s neck, resting soft and hesitant at his nape, and told him all the things that Abe had forgotten how to say.