by Wai

Shishido doesn't like Band-Aids. He never liked them, even as a kid. He remembered a lot of his friends would proudly show their animal-prints Band-Aid, claiming that they didn't even cry when their mother put them on. Shishido would scowl, kick the other kid and flee.

That was probably why a lot of the kids in the neighborhood were scared of him. But he was also their hero, because no one knew how to ride a bike like Shishido. And no one climbed trees the way Shishido did, higher than any of the older kids dared!

Of course, no one got punished like Shishido either, but that was expected. No one tried to break the rules the way he did either when they were all just eight.

And of all the kids in the neighborhood, the one prone to walk home with scratches and scrapes would have to be Shishido. So it was to no surprise that every time he walked home, his mother would be waiting for him with a bowl of warm water, a towel, disinfectant and a box of Band-Aids.

So this love-hate relationship with Band-Aids really began in his early years. And years later, he found himself staring warily at his partner who was smiling brightly carrying a wet towel and a box of Band-Aids.

"Choutarou," He managed, eyes fixed on the box. "What are those for?"

"Huh?" Ootori tilted his head to the side, reminding Shishido very much of a confused puppy, before smiling brightly once more. "For your cuts, of course." The underclassman's eyes took in Shishido's dirtied form with critical eyes. "Your clothes are dirty too, you like to run from corner to corner too much, Shishido-san."

"That's what I do. I cover for you." He replied with a shrug.

"But you should really be careful, you always have scrapes whenever we play. One of these days they'll get infected!" Ootori chastised as he sat down, much to Shishido's amusement.

"You're such a mother hen, Choutarou." Shishido teased gently, nudging him a little. Ootori chuckled and nudged him right back.

"That's because you look out for me, so I'll have to look out for you too."

"It's a sempai's job to look after his kouhai." Shishido pointed out, huffing a little, even though the familiar sparkle in his eyes was unmistakable to Ootori.

"Well, humor me, OK?" Ootori said, holding out the towel. Shishido took it with a long-suffering sigh, but inwardly he was grateful. Moments such as this one were becoming more and more frequent and he sometimes couldn't help the wistful tone he seemed to possess every time he thinks about his partner.

The box of Band-Aid, though, spoiled the mood a little.

"All done?" Shishido nodded, ignoring the sting of some of the scrapes. He was used to being hurt, so the sting was an annoyance more than a discomfort. "Band-Aid time!"

"Band-Aid?" It was around this time that Ootori noticed the look on Shishido's face. It was the look that his five-year-old neighbor had on his face every time he was told to eat his vegetables.

"Shishido-san, are you alright?"

"Ah. Yeah, fine." Ootori noted that Shishido's eyes never left the box. "It's"

"Do you not like Band-Aids, Shishido-san?" Ootori asked, shaking the box. Shishido's expression immediately turned sour, though there was no denying the faint blush that covered his cheeks. He debated lying for a moment, before sighing in defeat and shaking his head.


"How come?" Ootori paused for a moment before rattling on. "Because you know, you don't have to tell me. I just wanted to know, because I used to like them when I was a kid and I thought that you would like them to. But then again I shouldn't assume and I-"

"Choutarou." There was a hint of impatience in that tone, laced with the obvious exasperation. Shishido was grinning at him.

"Ah. Sorry."

"Don't be." Sighing, Shishido nodded his head. "I used to hate them when I was a kid, because they're nothing more than a nuisance anyway. They always feel weird when they get wet and then you have to change them." He shook his head, disgusted even after all these years. "Never mind, it's childish. Just hand them over."

Ootori stared at him for a moment, his mouth slightly parted as he took in this little story from Shishido's past. He didn't know why, but there was a gentle warmth spreading across his chest at realizing that his sempai was sharing a part of his life story to him, his junior. His partner.

"Let me do it." Ootori said instead, smiling gently. For a moment all Shishido could do was stare at the soft smile on the younger boy's face. Not trusting his vocal chords, he merely nodded.

Ootori took his sweet time with the Band-Aid and Shishido tried--and failed--not to flinch when his partner stuck the Band-Aid over his wound. The gentle smile on Ootori's face reminded him vaguely of his mother whenever she would tend to his wounds, so Shishido smiled back. He touched the Band-Aid on his brow warily, sighing as his hand dropped down to his side.

But brown eyes widened when Ootori leaned forward, pulling Shishido down slightly and pressed his lips on the Band-Aid. His eyes were still wide as he gaped at his partner, who had the most impish look on his face as he squeezed Shishido's shoulder.

He could only imagine how red he must be at this time, managing an undignified squawk. Ootori chuckled with amusement, getting to his feet.

"Come on then, Shishido-san! We better head back home!" He announced cheerfully.

"Huh? Wait, Choutarou!" He exclaimed, leaping to his feet, grabbing his bag and towel.

"No, I'm not waiting this time, Shishido-san. You've got to actually catch me this time." Was all his Choutarou said before he broke into a run. There was a distinct shout of "You cheat!" before Shishido ran after him. The sound of their footsteps and laughter echoing throughout the nearly abandoned Hyotei Gakuen.

Nearly abandoned save for two boys. Atobe wanted to call them back and have one of them relieve him from the burden on his back. But Jiroh looked entirely too comfortable there, nuzzling against his neck as he snored happily. With a resigned sigh, Atobe began his trek towards the gates, where undoubtedly his car and chauffeur would be waiting. All he had to do was dump Jiroh in the backseat with him and drive home.

Still, the feel of the sleepy boy's soft hair against his skin wasn't bad. And the lips pressing lightly against his neck didn't feel too bad either. It's too bad that the school gates are so near, really, because Atobe didn't mind too much carrying the sleeping Jiroh.

Perhaps it is a good thing that Shishido and Ootori didn't see them. But the fact that Atobe saw this exchange between those two...well, lets just say that the captain had plans.

The End

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