Just a little bit of fluff for the Manji/Rin fans.  I nearly tore my hair out when the glorious reunion I keep envisioning didn't show up in Beasts.  Sigh.  I'm a romantic fool.  Anyway, this occurs… somewhere… in the manga.  Sure… Ahem, enjoy!

The Human Bandage

Rin gritted her teeth as she struggled to support Manji's weight.  His left arm was draped around her shoulders as he stumbled through the darkened alleyways beside her.  The other was wrapped up in the remains of her outer kimono and tucked under the arm Rin wasn't using to keep her bodyguard balanced.  There were a couple of fingers keeping the arm company, but Rin tried not to think about that fact.

            Another day, another crazed Itto-Ryu member trying their damndest to kill an immortal and the girl who'd hired him.  Rin quickly shut the images out of her mind and the doubts these battles brought up.  She could worry about those things in the morning.  Right now she needed to make sure certain grouchy samurai healed properly. 

            "Watch it, you idiot, that hurts!" the samurai in question growled.  Her grip around his waist had shifted and she'd inadvertently pressed against one of his many wounds.  Most of the little ones had already been stitched back together by the blood worms, but a sizeable hole in his abdomen was sluggish to close. 

"Sorry," Rin muttered and sighed in relief as they finally reached their shack. 

With little ceremony, Manji dropped to the floor just inside the doorway.  Rin stumbled at the sudden loss of his weight.  He groaned and pressed his finger-lacking hand to the wound in his stomach.  Rin knelt beside him and tried to puzzle out the fastest way to get him back together.  In addition to everything else, his right shoulder had been sliced through almost down to the bottom of his ribcage.  The hunk of torso wouldn't heal right unless it was bound to the rest.

            "Manji, come here," Rin beckoned, quickly deciding on a plan of attack.  She helped him scoot across the floor closer to the inside wall.  Leaning against it, she tugged at him until he was leaning against her. 

            "What," he asked as she reached around him and used his chest as a table to unwrap his limbs on. 

            "I'm going to put you back together," she mumbled, concentrating on finding the right order of fingers in the dark.  Luckily he'd only lost the last three or her plan wouldn't have worked as well.

            "Give me your hand," she said, tucking the fingers between her own, stifling the urge to giggle at the sick parody of her golden wasp attack.  She steeled herself against the wave of hysteria that washed through her, leaving her drained.  The evening had taken more out of her than she'd realized. 

            Manji brought his hand up and she pressed it against his chest with her own, aligning it so that the fingers could reattach properly.  Next, she took his arm and tucked it back into place, wrapping her free arm around his chest to keep it in place while simultaneously pressing the shoulder wound closed.

            "There," she let out a sigh of satisfaction as her work was complete, "you'll be fixed up in no time."

            Manji grunted as a response, relaxing against her to wait out the healing process.  Rin felt her face flush slightly as her objective mindset faded away now that everything was sorted out.  A muscle in her foot twitched, causing her leg to jump slightly, making it shift against Manji's.  She tried to ignore the warmth of his legs pressed against her own and the strangely comfortable way he fit in her arms.  With a tired sigh, he let his head rest against her shoulder, the spiky ends of his hair brushing her jaw line. 

            Rin swallowed heavily at the forced intimacy, fighting to find another way to describe the situation she was in.  Perversely, her mind kept mulishly running into one statement over and over… there was a man lying between her legs.  

            Deep breaths, Rin, she told herself sternly, closing her eyes and setting her mouth into a grim line.  She was just being a human bandage.  That was all.  There was nothing remotely intimate about the situation, only a nurse doing her best to mend a patient.

Manji sighed in her arms, causing her fingers to caress his scarred chest.  He shifted a little against her, the side of his head brushing against her cheek.  Her face bright pink, Rin coughed a little and forced her voice to sound natural.

            "Are you feeling better?" she asked.

            "Yeah," Manji muttered, exhaustion plain in his voice, "But it's hard to get comfortable with such small pillows."

            On one hand she was grateful that he'd successfully managed to dispel any lingering embarrassment she'd had about the situation.  On the other hand...

Rin gritted her teeth, grinding her words out, "Is that so?" She struggled to push him off of her, letting go of his hand and shoving against his back angrily.

            "Hey, hey," he protested, "Quit that!  Some nurse you are!" he sat forward as she scrambled up, hissing as the shoulder wound tore open again, half healed, and clutching at his arm to keep it in place.

            "IDIOT!" Rin shouted, kicking him in the leg and stalking off to the corner of the room where they kept the bedding.  Seething, she pulled her futon out and began to make up her bed.

            "Hey, Rin, come on," Manji tried for a placating tone, "Don't leave me like this, I'll heal crooked."

            "So go find a nurse with 'big pillows' to put you back together," she suggested, snapping her blanket open violently.

            "Alright, alright, that was uncalled for," he conceded, trying to get to his feet but falling back as his stomach wound pulled.  Rin flinched at his grunt of pain and forced herself to face him.  She felt her anger rush away with a sigh at his pathetic form, trying to keep his arm on with half attached fingers.

            Grumbling, she dragged the blanket back with her, shoving him forward none to gently as she resumed her seat behind him.  He leaned against her again as she spread the blanket over his bare chest and wrapped her arms around him, holding the various wounds closed. 

            "Just a human bandage," she muttered as her patient shifted again, finding a comfortable position. 

            They sat in silence for awhile, the crickets outside the only noise in the room besides their breathing.  Rin sighed once and leaned her cheek against Manji's head, feeling the trials of the day catch up to her all at once. 

            Eventually, the wounds were stitched up enough that her presence wasn't needed anymore.  Manji stirred as the blood worms complete their work, feeling a little bit guilty about his earlier comment.  The girl was an idiot, but she did take care of him when he was hurt… which was often. 

            "Hey, Rin," he said, "you can let go now."

            He was met by the sound of her soft breathing.  With a start, he realized she'd fallen asleep.  A rueful grin ghosted across his lips as he cautiously tried to sit up, not wanting to disturb her. 

            Rin mumbled something in her sleep and hung onto him gamely.  Manji sat back in surprise, not expecting the unconscious gesture.  Her cheek nuzzled against his head and her hold around him tightened a bit in a brief hug.  Manji sat dumbfounded for a few long minutes before letting out a sigh of defeat. 

            "You're gonna be stiff in the morning," he warned the sleeping girl.  Then he closed his eyes and let the exhaustion he'd been keeping at bay wrap him in darkness.  Sleep gathered him in its warm embrace, promising to ease the sore muscles and dispel the fogginess in his head.  Still, he couldn't help but note as he drifted off, the promises weren't nearly as comforting as the arms that gently held him. 

Is there a law against excessive cheese?  ^_^;; Bad for me, if so…