Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Inspired by a (hugely exaggerated) semi-true story – reviews and constructive criticism very much appreciated :)
Gone to the Dogs
Only two things allowed Tsuruga Ren to refrain from a face palm of epic proportions. Firstly, there was his sheer acting ability and almost perfect control of his facial features no matter what he was really thinking, and secondly, Yashiro was already doing a magnificent job of it for him.
It was chaos. Not even controlled chaos as the saying went. It was just chaos. He managed to contain his reaction to a slightly raised brow as a labradoodle skittered past, fleeing before the might of a Chihuahua with attitude, who in turn was running from its red-faced handler.
"My god…" Yashiro murmured in horrified awe. Ren opened his mouth to respond, but was rudely interrupted by a cocker spaniel. He tried not to chuckle as his manager squeaked and tried to fend off the over enthusiastic dog who was under the impression Yashiro's nervous flailing was a new and interesting game.
A girl was instantly upon the spaniel, attaching a leash with the polished movements of a professional. It barked happily at Yashiro, eliciting a noticeable flinch, before it was dragged away.
"And here I always thought you liked dogs." Ren said after taking a moment to compose his face. Yashiro glared at him and straightened his suit angrily.
"I do, when they behave. Honestly, it's like a scene from a horror film in here! Light-hearted and fun, nothing! This is absolutely the last time you do a voiceover for a slobbering mutt."
Ren laughed softly and returned his attention to the rest of the room. The film had indeed been light-hearted and fun for him, and a new experience. He'd never voice acted an animal before and had found it more challenging than he had first thought. Providing the voice of a dog in a children's film sounded easy, but actually giving the dog the illusion of real feelings by only using his voice as a means of expression was not – there was only so much you could CG human expressions on to canine faces before they became absurd.
Of course he had Lory Takarada to thank for this job – in the midst of playing BJ and Cain Heel the president, in all his well-intentioned eccentricity, had decided this would be a perfect break for him. Apparently the director was a friend of Lory's and had found himself in a bind when one of his voice actors had contracted laryngitis. The president had suggested Ren as a last-minute replacement.
The plot was not exactly taxing – the usual sort of thing you'd expect from a film where the main characters were talking animals – and his role consisted of all of 12 lines which he had perfected in one session, but he had to admit it had been just a little bit fun.
Also, his role was that of Spike the Doberman, and not Little Tim the Chihuahua, so he couldn't complain too much. Although now he'd actually met the dogs in person he had to admit the Chihuahua had style, it was just that if he was going to give his voice to a dog he was happier about it being a Doberman.
Today marked the last day of the project for the actors, and to celebrate the completion of their part they were meeting their four-legged counterparts for cuddles and a few publicity shots. Despite his role being little more than a cameo, Ren was a big enough star to be included on the guest list.
Things had been going well, actors and actresses alike had been doting on the cute puppy dogs, but then three disasters had combined to form the current state of chaos.
First, there had been a mix-up on rooms. The dogs were all in one place and the various other animal stars in another – this was common sense. However, due to the mix-up the attendant had brought Maurice and a number of other cats in to the dog room. The second disaster had centred around Kusagi, one of the only two male dog handlers present. He was a large man and looked perfectly matched with the Great Dane he was usually in charge of. Miki-chan, the tiny doll of a woman who usually supervised Little Tim, however, looked like she was standing next to dogzilla. He was usually docile to the point of laziness, and with nothing on hand to chase he would normally have been fine in the smaller handler's care for a minute or two while Kusagi had popped out quickly for a bathroom break. The entrance of the cats had been perfectly timed, and Miki-chan had known she was doomed from the first "meow".
Already excited by all the fussing from the actors, the dogs had gone berserk, though were initially kept under tight control. The cats were all in carrier boxes (or packed lunches from the dogs' perspectives) except for Maurice, the arch villain in the film and a superbly fluffy white Persian in real life.
It had not been so much a question of whether Bono the Great Dane could yank Miki-chan off her feet, but rather in which direction she would sail. The answer had been straight in to the backs of three of the other handlers, and thus had ended their so-far successful restraint of the other dogs. In the tangle of limbs, paws and tails that had followed, the vast majority of canines had squirmed their way to freedom.
The attendant who had brought in Maurice was clearly not much of a dog person. At the sight and sound of an 82 kilogram Great Dane barrelling towards him with a distinct lack of breaks he had shrieked loudly and tripped over his own feet in a desperate attempt to flee, somehow managing to toss the unprepared cat straight up and over his head in a wide arch.
There had been a moment of stillness as the humans gaped in horror at the spectacle of a Persian cat back flipping wildly through the air while emitting a screech befitting its current situation, and the dogs had calculated trajectories.
Maurice had landed on his face, scrambled dizzily to his feet and the moment of stillness had ended. What had followed was best described as a police chase with fur – Maurice had provided the siren – with a yowling ball of fluff streaking this way and that pursued by a pack of barking dogs.
This had caused the third disaster. In mortal terror, Maurice had shot under the buffet table which had been laid out for the actors. Shrimp Cocktail, sausage rolls and a whole array of viscous dips had soared through the air, splattering more than one of the human cast, as soon as Bono had tried to follow. The dogs that lost interest in the cat now had some rather tasty morsels to pursue instead. Of course the only actress who was frightened of dogs had been closest to the buffet table at the moment of its demise, and had run screaming with salmon strips in her hair as several of the larger dogs happily chased after her appetizing hairdo. At last Maurice had been caught and the cats taken away but by that point the chaos had already descended and at least one actress would probably need therapy.
At this point Ren had found the quietest corner available, deciding he wanted no part in this particular drama, and allowed the flustered professions to do their job unhindered. He had been impressed so far, and was glad he'd stayed out of it – the handlers had managed to bring some semblance of order to the room in mere minutes and not one of them had so much as raised their voice towards the animals, even if they had looked like they sorely wanted to.
Ren had watched as one by one the dogs were efficiently recaptured and now smiled softly as he imagined how Kyoko would react when he told her about this episode. She might just catch the tail end of it if she turned up soon – apparently his manager had her schedule memorised as well as his and had known she would be in the same building and heading back to LME about the same time. He had snuck off to locate her and offer a lift while Ren had been distracted by a Labrador with designs on his right leg. He'd only told Ren after the offer had been made and assurance given that the driver wouldn't mind – the truly annoying thing being that he really didn't mind.
He was knocked out his reverie by Yashiro nearly jumping into his arms.
"What is it?" he asked, trying to free himself from his suddenly clingy manager.
"Spawn of Satan!" was the vehement and cryptic reply. Ren was about to ask further when a soft growl explained everything for him.
The Doberman was big, even for the breed, and notoriously bad-tempered. He had sniffed at Ren with a sort of grudging respect upon introduction, but Yashiro had been treated to what was apparently his usual response to meeting new people: lots of rumbling and an extended display of all his flashing white teeth.
Most unfortunately, he was not named Spike in real life, but Renji – or Ren for short. The moment the dog had been introduced Yashiro had broken in to a grin, though the Doberman had seemed to disapprove of anyone other than himself showing their teeth. Ren had rather liked the dog from that moment on – the impressive snarl had silenced his manager before he could make any sort of pun, muzzle-related or otherwise.
The large dog took another step closer and Yashiro squeaked. "Ren! No! Bad dog! Sit!"
Ren, the human, grimaced. Ren, the dog, growled.
"I think he thinks you're attacking me." he said brightly.
Yashiro blushed, released Ren from the near bear hug he had him in and took a step away. This halted the advance, but the Doberman continued to stare at Yashiro in a way that suggested it had been some time since his last meal.
"There, okay, I'm definitely not attacking. You can go now." He said to the dog with little effect, and so turned to Ren instead. "Can you keep your evil twin under control please?"
"I don't think he'll listen to me." Ren tried to keep the relish out of his voice as he replied, he really did.
"Oh yes he will. You two are exactly alike – he'll listen to his own kind."
The dog let out another menacing growl and snarled.
"See? I'm not like that at all."
"Oh yes you are." Yashiro muttered. "He's just more open with his feelings."
Ren sent him a beatific smile and Yashiro recoiled – the exact same reaction as to the dog. The Doberman artfully trotted off towards the doors as soon as Kusagi got near, only to jump when they opened just as he passed them.
A girl in hot pink overalls stepped quietly in to the room, right in front of the notoriously bad-tempered Doberman. Ren tensed, ready to intervene if needed – the handlers said he wasn't dangerous, just growled and snarled a bit for show, but he wasn't taking any chances with Kyoko involved.
The girl stared at the dog. The dog stared back at the girl. The rest of the room held its breath.
It seemed that at exactly the same moment both girl and dog devolved in to a heap of gooey-eyed adoration for each other.
"So cute!" Kyoko cried, dropping to her knees to hug the giant dog as it lunged at her like an overgrown puppy, wagging its stumpy little tail.
Kusagi was the first to laugh. "Well, he's never done that before! He definitely likes you."
"What's his name?" Kyoko asked as she half-heartedly fended off the dog's enthusiastic advances, adding a giggly "Ah! No!" when her ears were licked. Ren tried to compose his face into something that didn't scream to the world how cute he thought she was right now and began walking over with Yashiro a step behind.
Kusagi, who liked dogs better than people for the most part, was thrilled with Kyoko's reaction and happy to answer any and all questions. "His name's Ren. Beautiful isn't he?"
Ren almost tripped over his own feet.
"Yes, he's gorgeous!" Kyoko beamed. As though sensing she'd complimented him, the dog resumed his playful attack on her with renewed vigour. "Ha ha, no, stop that Ren, you naughty boy! It tickles! Get your tongue out of my ear! Look, now you've made me all wet. Oof! Sorry Ren, but you're too heavy to jump on me like that – if you're a good boy you can sit in my lap if you're not too big to fit, how's that?"
It was strange, thought Ren as he bit his tongue to keep the reply building in his throat from escaping past his lips, he had never once in his life thought he'd ever want to be a Doberman with such passion as now.
Behind him, Yashiro had no such concerns about holding back and burst out laughing. Trying to ignore his manager, he smiled down at Kyoko, who in return froze, showed him one her most complicated faces yet and blushed a deep crimson.
Sensing the discomfort and fear coming from the human he liked, the Doberman turned to find the source of these emotions. Yashiro he decided was to blame, and gave such a ferocious snarling bark that Yashiro choked and Ren was moved to pat his head affectionately.