Disclaimer: I own very little.

A/N: I doubt we'll ever find out what's the secret of the band-aid (aside from the fact it makes Eiji even cuter, of course). This, however, is my theory.

Shared Secret

"Nyaa, that was fun!" Eiji exclaimed after practice. "Tiring, yes, but still fun!"

"Of course you would find it fun," Oishi chuckled. "After all, you got to bounce around all the time."

"You know me too well, Oishi!" the acrobatic player laughed. "See you at the changing room, nya!" With one last cheerful laugh and a couple of cartwheels, he headed towards the club house.

"Didn't Eiji-senpai hurt himself, though?" Momo asked. "There was a scrape on his arm or something, wasn't there?"

"Oh, yes," Oishi replied. "It wasn't anything serious, thankfully. A simple band-aid was enough to take care of it." Of course, he hadn't been even nearly as calm when the accident had actually happaned, behaving like Eiji had managed to chop his entire arm off just because there was a bit of blood. He was, after all, a worrier -- well evidenced by the way he now turned towards the club house too, doubtlessly to check up in Eiji.

"Why does Eiji-senpai always wear that band-aid on his face, anyway?" Echizen asked, wiping sweat from his face. "I've never quite understood just what it's for."

"Well, you'd have to ask that from Eiji himself," Fuji said with his infinite smile. "I remember that when we were first-years, he had a band-aid over his nose. At some point, however, he switched it to his cheek without telling me the reason. I think it was some time during our second year… As for why, though, I doubt anybody knows, aside from Oishi, maybe."

"Let's ask him, then!" Momo decided immediately. "Oi, Oishi-senpai!" As the vice captain turned to look back at them, Momo asked, "Do you know why Eiji-senpai always has that band-aid on his cheek?"

"Eh?" Suddenly, there was a hint of a blush on Oishi's cheeks. "I – I've no idea. Maybe he thinks it's funny?" This was followed by a slightly nervous laugh, after which Oishi quickly excused himself and hurried on his previous path after Eiji.

"Hm. This is interesting," Fuji said thoughtfully. "It's obvious Oishi knows what the point of that band-aid is. There must also be some reason why he won't tell…"

Indeed, Oishi wasn't about to tell, the blush still on his face as he hurried away. After all, he remembered all too well the time he had first asked Eiji the same question.

"Why do you always have that band-aid on your nose, Eiji?" Oishi asked, looking curiously at the other second-year. "You've had it since I first met you, and it's been over a year since then!"

"Well..." There was a quick glance around as though to make sure they were alone before the redhead looked at him again. "Promise you won't tell anyone?" Eiji's gaze was extremely serious as he looked at Oishi. "Or laugh at me?"

Oishi nodded just as seriously. "Promise."

Now, Eiji sighed a bit. "It's because of my mother," he told. "She used to always kiss me on the nose. I told her I'm too old for that, but she wouldn't listen. She said my nose's just too cute not to kiss. So, I put a band-aid on it so she wouldn't kiss it, and this far, it's been working. Apparently the band-aid is not as kissable." He sighed again, then glared at Oishi, who was chuckling quietly. "You promised not to laugh," he reminded irritably.

"Ah, sorry," Oishi said, doing his best to banish the smile that refused to leave his lips. "It's just, I don't understand your mother." He grinned a bit. "Your nose's even cuter with the band-aid on it."

"Huh?" Eiji's eyes went wide. "What do you mean, Oishi?"

"I just said you look cute." Knowing he might never get an opportunity as good as this one, Oishi gathered all his courage, leaning forward. "I do understand, though, why she said you're too cute not to kiss." Leaning another bit further, he placed a soft kiss on Eiji's cheek.

As Oishi drew back, the two boys stared at each other for a while. Then, a fierce blush rising onto his face, Oishi stammered a few quick apologies, turned around, and ran away.

Eiji didn't follow him.

Oishi was, quite understandably, nervous about meeting Eiji again as he slowly made his way towards school the next day. Although the redhead hadn't seemed too angry about the kiss the night before, Oishi suspected it had been mostly due to the shock. He doubted Eiji'd be as calm now that the incident had sunk in properly. There was no way to tell how Eiji would react, but react he would, that was for sure.

"What are you so gloomy about, Oishi?" A familiar voice shook him out of his gloomy thoughts. Looking up from where his eyes had been surveying the road, he saw Eiji standing in front of him. The other boy seemed just his usual self, not angry or anxious or anything like that. However, there was something on him that made Oishi freeze.

The band-aid had disappeared from Eiji's nose, only to be placed on his cheek instead, on the exact spot Oishi had kissed.

"…I'm sorry, Eiji," he said quietly, lowering his gaze again to avoid looking at the other boy. He understood perfectly well the unsaid message. He'd have to have been an idiot not to.

"Huh?" To his surprise, Eiji sounded genuinely puzzled. "What for?"

Oishi sighed. Was Eiji purposefully trying to make him feel even more anxious? Or just pretending nothing had happened? True, neither seemed like something Eiji would do, but still…

"For kissing you, of course." His cheeks heated up with an awkward blush as he still refused to look at Eiji.

"You regret it?" Of course, he had to be imagining it, but somehow Eiji's voice was almost… disappointed. As though he hadn't wanted Oishi to regret it.

"Yes, of course," Oishi replied, his gaze not leaving his feet as he slowly walked forward, Eiji easily matching his pace. "I'd regret anything I've done if it upset you."

"What do you mean? I'm not upset."

Oishi froze again. He could hardly believe his ears. "…You're not?" he asked slowly.

Suddenly there was a face in front of his, Eiji looking up at him from a crouching position. "Do I look upset?" Eiji asked reasonably, a brilliant smile on his face.

"No, you don't." Oishi shook his head. "But… that band-aid… Doesn't it mean you don't want me to kiss you anymore?" It was only logical, after all. Eiji had used band-aids as kiss repellent before, so why would he change his habits now?

Now, Eiji's smile got even broader. "Nope! It's because I don't want Oishi's kiss to be wiped away."

Oishi chuckled weakly. "If you are going to treasure a simple kiss that way, you'll be covered in bandages by the time you're an adult."

Eiji laughed happily. "It's not just 'a simple kiss', Oishi," he said cheerfully. "It's Oishi's first kiss to me!"

Oishi thought about the words for a while. Then, he smiled, a slight flush on his face. "'First' implies there will be more to follow," he pointed out.

A satisfied nod was Eiji's answer. "I sure hope so!"

"Nya, Oishi!" Once again, a familiar face staring up at him shook Oishi out of his thoughts. "What are you looking so thoughtful about?"

"Eiji! Don't scare me like that," Oishi chuckled. "It's... nothing. I just remembered something about when we were younger."

"Was it something good or something bad, nya?" Eiji asked curiously.

"Well, it was about Eiji, so it had to be good," the vice-captain replied, smiling at the other.

The smile on the redhead's face was bright enough to light up a room or two.

In the end, Momoshiro was not at all satisfied by Oishi's answer – or lack thereof – to his question. Therefore, before practice the next morning, he dragged the less enthusiastic Echizen along to question Eiji himself. After all, he hardly could claim not to know the secret of the band-aid.

Instead of a horrible secret or some other explanation as to why Oishi would refuse to answer, though, they got a rather boring answer. "Oh, that." Eiji smiled at them. "It's just a reminder."

"A reminder?" Echizen echoed. "Of what?"

The smile got even brighter. "Of the fact that no matter what happens, I'll never be alone, nyaa." With a happy smile, Eiji turned around and started to walk towards the courts. "Oi, Oishi! How about a practice match?"

Echizen looked at Momo. Momo looked at Echizen. Then they both looked at the quickly retreating Eiji.

"…What exactly does a band-aid have to do with loneliness?" Momo asked. "Does it keep him company?"

"Considering it likely has something to do with Oishi-senpai," Echizen pointed out, "I think we might actually be better off not knowing, in the end."

"Whuh?" Momoshiro seemed genuinely puzzled at the comment. "Has Oishi-senpai hurt him or something?"

Echizen sighed. "…Forget it."