Disclaimer: The characters are not mine. In fact, the official anime artwork is starting to make them not resemble the Ban and Ginji that Aoki and Ayamine created... which is why I wrote this story. I like Aoki and Ayamine's Ban and Ginji, darnit.
Notes: As much as I do like Ban/Ginji, and as much as the fanservicey pics that Animage has been running are in fact quite hot... they're sort of creepy. I'm not in the series to see cute guys snuggling, but to see dorky guys acting like... dorks.
...But since it's official artwork, there has to be some explanation as to why the dorks are looking less like dorks and more like they're from a yaoi series lately. This fic was written to explain how this could occur.
P.S.: It's more fun if you've seen the pics in question, but I'm sure you can hunt them down if you really want to. ;)
"I don't get it," Ginji mused, removing his vest and tossing it into one corner of the basement that served as their latest client's small studio. "Ban-chan..."
"Don't worry about it - just remember that she's paying us good money for this." Which was why Ban was already out of his shirt and slipping into the new one which the client had provided. "And since Paul cut us off until we show him cash..."
"I dunno, I just... Mizuki-chan seems friendly enough - kinda weird, but friendly, and pretty - but what if this is a trap? I mean..." Ginji waved a hand as he slipped out of his t-shirt, indicating the unusual instruments in the young woman's studio. "What does a photographer need with all those chains and handcuffs and things?"
Ban suppressed a sigh; Ginji could be awfully naive at times. "It's not a trap. She's just going to take some... special pictures of the two of us. I mean, think about it, Ginji - who'd pay money for our mug shots?"
"Who'd wear a shirt made of fishnet?" Ginji asked in return, dubiously plucking at Ban's new outfit. "But... I guess if you trust her, that's good enough for me, Ban-chan."
"Great. Now put on the stuff she left for you."
Ginji picked up the shirt that had been folded and left on the table in the corner, and then held it up in bewilderment. "Oops - I think she made a mistake and left some kids clothes here instead of mine." Ginji tended to prefer large clothes he could move around freely in, and the tiny little tank top he'd been given wouldn't even cover his torso.
"Nah, it's for you. Just give it a try." Ban was secretly glad he hadn't been given anything quite like that. Though yes, he was wearing fishnet, and he wasn't exactly happy about that either. And to his surprise, Ginji actually did look pretty good in that undersized tank top.
Before he could think much about that and decide whether or not that was creepy, there were footsteps on the stairs outside. "Are you two boys changed yet?"
"Yeah, all set," Ban replied, adjusting the jacket over his fishnet top as Ginji tried in vain to pull his short shirt down over his stomach. What was the point of a jacket if it was too small to close, anyway? Oh well, as long as this got them money...
The door opened, and their client, photographer Okawa Mizuki, entered. Looking over Ban in a critical, almost predatory manner that went well with the tailored suit and sleek hairstyle she wore, she nodded to herself - and then shattered the myth of professionalism by squealing and clasping her hands together as she looked at Ginji. "Oh, you're so cute!"
Ginji and Ban looked at each other. She hadn't been so... excitable... when they'd come in to set up the appointment.
"Hmmm, a little plain, though - you need accessories," Mizuki stated, resting her cheek in her palm in thought. "Some of this, I think..."
Before Ginji could say anything to protest, she was strapping leather bands to his arm and throat. "B-ban-chan...?"
Ban was less than sympathetic. "Eh, she's giving us money - let her do what she wants."
"Oh oh - and the finishing touch to bring it all together!" she exclaimed cheerfully, producing a pair of shiny earrings. Ban snorted in laughter as she began to clip one to Ginji's ear.
His laughter stopped as she reached for his ear. "Hey, what the hell? Shouldn't Ginji's ears match?"
"It'll be more meaningful if you're each wearing one of the set!" She tilted her head at him as she finished, looked back at Ginji (who was beginning to look quite nervous), and smiled widely. "Perfect! Okay, okay - now come over here..."
Leading them to the corner with the chains Ginji had expressed misgivings over earlier, Mizuki suddenly seemed like a bubbly teenager mooning over a pop star instead of the business-like woman they'd thought they'd be working with. "Here, you put this one on your wrist, Gin-chan, and you can have this one, Ban-chan-"
Ban bristled. "Don't call me Ban-chan." No one got away with calling him "Ban-chan" except Ginji, and he'd usually yell at someone for it... but they really did need the money.
She blinked up at him. "Ban...sama?"
"Yeah, I guess that's better." Ban eyed the chains with exasperation. "...Mind if I smoke?"
"Oooooh, that would make you look even more dangerous! Please do," she agreed.
As Ban lit up, Mizuki went to assist a miserable-looking Ginji in clamping the chains around his other wrist. "There are keys for this, right?"
"Of course - I've got them right here," she assured him, jingling a small keyring. "And how are you doing, Ban-sama?"
"Just fine." He just kept reminding himself of the money. That was enough to make him attach the other shackle himself.
"Wonderful!" Mizuki bent down to take the other ends of the chains, and began fastening them to rings set in the floor and ceiling. "Okay, now that you're all ready..."
"I feel like we're about to be tortured," Ginji mumbled worriedly to Ban as she began to set up a tripod a short distance away. "Are you sure she's only got a camera?"
Ban wasn't so sure at all - normal women on their early twenties didn't have a setup like this in their basements. It did somewhat resemble a torture chamber. "I'm sure she's only going to use a camera on us." At least, he hoped so. "If not, I'll use the jagan on her and make her let us out."
It seemed to be a normal camera that Mizuki was setting up, and she fiddled with the settings a little as she instructed them. "Now, Ban-sama - grab Ginji's wrists, hold them like you're trying to pull him closer... actually, why don't you grip the chains with one hand?" Ban did as she asked, after shifting the cigarette to his mouth to free his hands. "Now Gin-chan, look over your shoulder so I can see your cute face... Oooh, perfect!"
Ginji looked decidedly uneasy at the moment she snapped the picture, but Ban just took it in stride. "It's just pictures," he muttered, smirking a little. "Nothing hard about standing here and letting her take pictures of us, is there?"
"Well... no... but it sort of makes us look like... well..." Ginji blushed slightly.
"Hold it!" Mizuki's grin behind the camera was slightly manic, and the flash lit up the basement again. "Oh, that was great! I don't think we need any more from this set, there's no way we could improve on that. So here, we'll start the other one..."
Setting another shirt on the table, Mizuki started to unlock Ginji's restraints, which didn't make him look any more comfortable with the sitation. "You'll need to switch into this shirt, Gin-chan. Ban-sama, your outfit is just fine for this shot, no need to change anything."
Free of the shackles, Ginji gladly wormed his way out of the small tank top, and picked up the new shirt, which seemed pleasantly large and loose compared to the old one. As he slipped it over his shoulders, he noticed something wrong, however. "Mizuki-chan, this shirt's lost some buttons - there's only two of them, one at the collar and the other all the way down here."
"That's all right - you won't even be using the one at the collar," she assured him, picking up a pair of handcuffs connected by a long, silvery chain. "Now Ban-sama, you'll be wearing these..."
Soon the two of them were shackled again - this time chained together at the wrist by black leather cuffs, while the silver cuffs connected Ban's forearms. Ginji's shirt fell open in the front, leaving plenty of room for... "The finishing touch - jewelry!" Mizuki cheered, fixing a long chain with a dangling cross at the bottom to Ginji's collar. "This... and the earrings worked so well before, let's do it again," she mused, replacing the simpler crystals they were wearing with crosses to match the pendant. "Great, put your arm around Gin-chan..."
"I'm tired of this," Ginji whispered unhappily as she retreated to her place behind the camera. "These clothes are stupid, and I'm hungry..."
"I think she only wanted two shots," Ban whispered back, slipping his arms over Ginji's head and resting one arm on his shoulder so that the chains dangled in front of both of them. "So let's do as she says, and maybe we can finish this one up as fast as the first one."
"Oh yeah - just like that!" she exclaimed. "Ban-sama, you're a natural! Hold that pose, leaning in like that..." The camera flashed, and she regarded the preview shot thoughtfully. "Gin-chan, you shouldn't look unhappy."
"Uh... sorry? How do you want me to look?"
"Hmm..." She considered for a moment. "You have the cutest smile - but that wouldn't look right for this kind of picture. So how about..." Her voice lowered suggestively. "...hungry?"
"I am hungry," Ginji moaned, placing a protective hand over his stomach. "We haven't eaten in two days - that's why I look unhappy."
"Oh, er..." She blushed a little. "I didn't mean like that..."
"Try pretending that the camera's a great big boxed lunch," Ban whispered in Ginji's ear, not having moved from his pose. "You want it... it's just out of reach... if you could just reach out and grab it..."
Mizuki's eyes widened at the look of yearning on Ginji's face, and she quickly snapped another picture. "All right! Much better. But Ban-sama, your left arm's just hanging there - what should we do with it...? Hmm... Ah, Gin-chan, while I'm thinking about that, why don't you try... holding the chain on Ban's arms between your teeth?"
"Bite the chain?" Ginji's yearning look turned baffled. "Why would I do that?"
"Once we're done with this, we can go buy a nice big dinner," Ban murmured. Ginji's bewilderment fell away, and he obediently raised his hand to slip a link of the chain into his mouth, sucking on it a little as if it was candy. Ban just hoped he didn't start drooling.
"Oh, that's just perfect!" Mizuki exclaimed, watching through the camera. "Now, what to do about the left arm..."
"I got an idea."
Mizuki lifted her head to peer curiously at Ban. "Hmm...?"
"You said I was a natural, right?" he pointed out. "I'll give it a shot - just get ready."
When she'd bent down to look through the camera again, Ban made his move. As his right hand drew further around Ginji's shoulders, resting his fingers on Ginji's chest, his left hand slipped into the bottom of Ginji's shirt just above the button at his waist - and angled lower.
Ginji froze, his eyes going wide in stunned disbelief, but Ban's actions had apparently been exactly what Mizuki was looking for - the flash went off, leaving Ginji looking even more like a deer caught in headlights.
"Ooooh, Ban-sama, that was brilliant!" Mizuki squealed. "I think that's all I need! Unless you've got more ideas?"
"Not really." He did have a few more, but if she was thinking she was done, he didn't want to prolong this.
"B-b-ban-chan..." Ginji stammered, the chain dropping from his mouth, which hung open in confusion.
Ban took the opportunity to lift the chain over Ginji's shoulders, so that his arms weren't locked around him. "Hey, it's over - we can go get a nice big dinner like I said, okay?"
"Uhh... I guess so..."
Ginji still looked a little unnerved by the time Mizuki had unlocked their chains and they'd switched back into their normal clothes, but Ban was all business. "Now, about our payment..."
"Right." Mizuki absently tucked her hair back behind her ear to pull out the pen balanced there, and with that simple self-assured gesture, suddenly she was all business again as well. "I could mail it to you, or cut you a check right-"
"Do we get any extra for doing it fast?"
"Hmm, I don't think so. If anything, I should probably give you less, since part of your payment is for the time spent in the shoot," she noted, opening a notebook and jotting something down. "Thanks for the reminder."
"What?!" Ban exclaimed. "You can't do that - even if we didn't spend as much of our time as expected, that means that we didn't take up as much of your time, either - you can do more shoots in the time you didn't spend on us, and make more money!"
"Not if I give you extra," she pointed out.
"Fine - it doesn't mean you should give us less!"
Engrossed in the argument, Ban wasn't paying attention to Ginji, until something closed around his wrist with a snap, and he looked down. "You're under arrest, Ban-chan!" Ginji grinned, holding up his own wrist to reveal a more conventional pair of handcuffs binding the two of them together.
"Quit goofing around," Ban snapped. "I'm trying to get us money so we can-"
"Oh dear." Mizuki's murmur interrupted Ban's scolding. "Gin-chan, I don't have keys for that set."
Ban and Ginji stared at her, then stared at each other. Ginji gave him a sheepish smile, while Ban's expression grew darker and stormier. "Heh heh... oops!" Ginji said, scratching his head self-consciously. "So... what do we do?"
"We'll have to call a locksmith," Mizuki said, rising to go to the door that led upstairs. "Don't worry - they're not going to charge too much just to deal with a pair of handcuffs, so it won't impact your pay too much..."
As the door closed behind her, Ban's dark expression turned into a full-blown glare. Knowing what was coming, Ginji held up his hands helplessly (which also dragged one of Ban's along with them) as if to ward off his partner's anger. "Really, I thought she must have a key to everything - she used the same key for most of those chains, right? So I thought of all the other keys, one had to be for these... heh heh heh..."
"Don't laugh!" Ban roared, trying to grab Ginji's shirt so he could shake him. Ginji attempted to dodge, forgetting that they were cuffed together - and the movement jerked Ban sideways, knocking him off balance. With only one arm able to move freely, he couldn't right himself, and tumbled over with a thud, dragging Ginji down with him.
This was perfectly fine with Ban, who decided wrestling Ginji was as good as shaking him. "You idiot!" he yelled, as the two of them rolled over and over on the floor, each struggling to come out on top. The fact that Ginji was laughing the whole time didn't help his mood. "I don't know how much a locksmith costs, but even if it's only five hundred yen - that's costing us a meal!"
"It's okay, it's okay, Ban-chan!" Ginji protested. "I'll just skip lunch, then there's no need to get mad-"
"I said even if it only cost five hundred yen -.it's more likely to be ten times that!"
"I'm sorry, Ban-chan, I'm sorry-"
Their argument was interrupted by a delighted squeal, and they looked up to see Mizuki looking down at them excitedly as they rolled to a stop, Ban managing to land atop Ginji. The businesswoman Ban had been trying to barter with was once again replaced by the swooning teenager - who looked rather starry-eyed as she raised the camera. "Oh, you two are so cute sprawled over each other like that! Freeze..."
The flash went off, stunning them both.
"Mizuki-chan's generous," Ginji said happily, munching on a hamburger while sitting on the hood of the Ladybug later that evening. "We ended up getting more money than you said we would!"
"Not as much as we could have if we didn't have to pay for the locksmith," Ban grumbled around a mouthful of fries, as he leaned back against the car. "What a ripoff..."
"But we wouldn't have gotten paid for that third picture she took if you hadn't been mad about the handcuffs and attacked me," Ginji reasoned.
Even so, the tallying of payments plus costs had included a subtraction mark, and Ban resented that. What Ginji said was true, though, and he couldn't argue with it. "That's why you're getting burgers for dinner instead of instant ramen," he said with a sigh.
Ginji finished his first hamburger in silence, then reached into the bag for another. "You were right, Ban-chan," he commented. "Modeling's not bad... it's not very hard, even if it is sort of weird. I guess I wouldn't mind doing it again."
Ban just nodded and continued eating. He didn't have the heart to tell Ginji that this wasn't normal "modeling", and Mizuki was making money shooting softcore porn for low-profile seedy magazines. If they did it too often, they might get a reputation.
Ginji laughed again suddenly. "I hope she doesn't do anything with that one where you were reaching into my shirt," he commented with an embarrassed grin. "Even I thought for a second that you were trying to... well..."
"Heh. I'm sure she won't show that one to anyone," Ban lied. "Cause yeah, that would look kinda funny. I don't know what I was thinking."
Fortunately, Ginji never looked at the sorts of magazines that Okawa Mizuki photographed for; three months later, however, one such magazine saw record sales.