There are many things Mitsui regrets but this is the only one he doesn't know how to apologize for. "Come on," he says after practice and Kogure looks at him, that gentle, patient look that Mitsui hates.
"I have to study," Kogure says, but he comes along anyhow, walking easily, not even asking where they are going. He turns to Mitsui while they wait on a corner. "You're doing well for your first week back."
Mitsui hunches up his shoulders. The light changes and he walks too fast, he has to wait on the other side for Kogure to catch him up. Kogure doesn't speak again until they are at the optician.
"Mitsui," he says, just that, like they're close enough that Mitsui will know what Kogure is thinking.
"How long?" Mitsui says to the girl at the counter. Kogure takes his glasses off and hands them to her.
"Half an hour," she says. Mitsui looks at Kogure and Kogure nods.
"Can you see to walk?" Mitsui asks.
"Nearly." Kogure takes hold of Mitsui's sleeve. "I'll follow you."
There's a café two doors down and they order coffee. Mitsui stirs in sugar and cream. Kogure takes his black, raising the cup carefully to his lips. Without his glasses, his face is softer, younger.
"I think we have a chance this year," Kogure says. "Now that you're back. If you want to spend some extra time practising..."
"No," Mitsui says. He puts more sugar in his coffee. He doesn't want Kogure to practise with him, he doesn't want Kogure to see him struggle to catch up. He wants Kogure to look at him like he used to, face lighting up for Mitsui the MVP.
They finish their coffee. Mitsui's is too sweet but he drinks it anyway. They walk back to the optician, Kogure's hand around Mitsui's arm. Mitsui pays for the repairs and Kogure lets him.
They stand on the sidewalk outside the shop. "Thank you," Kogure says, smiling, always smiling, and Mitsui half wants to hit him again. "I have to go home and study now," Kogure says and shifts his bag on his shoulder. He waves.
Mitsui watches until he disappears around a corner. Then he goes back to school for extra practice.