Since that first disastrous night, James becomes accustomed to Michael spontaneously breaking into song. At first he was worried that the cat might be going through some advanced form of Tourette's but a stray comment from Charles about James’ “lovebird” (the words come out far more viciously then James is used to from the normally genial man), made him realize that the affliction was simply Michael fancying him.
It’s a little unusual, dogs are far more blasé about it, typically sniffing each others bottoms a few times before concluding they’re meant to be and going at it. He can’t say he doesn’t enjoy the extra attention though. Michael is a thorough romantic, even bursting into a very special rendition of “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” while stroking heads with James during the middle of Professor X and Magneto mentally bonding in front of the satellite.
In the end they had to redo the take several times due to Charles’ uncontrollable giggling in between mutterings from Erik about “that damn horny cat.” Personally though James thinks the scene was much better off with the song included.
Besides Michael has a beautiful soaring baritone and James could listen to it forever. Regrettably the rest of the cast disagrees and Erik’s and Charles’ trailers are exiled out of the camp due to the nightly “noise pollution.” There’s just no accounting for human taste sometimes.
Certainly James has had the hots for Michael since the first time he saw him, but didn’t think anything would come of it given how stunning the large cat was and how stumpy he himself was. He’s pleasantly surprised to find that their feelings are mutual.
Which isn’t to say that he thinks he looks ugly, but he does have a bit of a tummy and he isn’t going to be winning awards for his elegance any time soon. In the makeup trailer James sticks out his tongue, turns around and looks over his shoulder while he waggles his butt. Unimpressed he then strikes a sexy pose at the mirror, back legs crossed on the ground, head tilted and sassily raising his left eyebrow. One ear gets confused and follows in its wake giving his face a decidedly lopsided look. James promptly dubs his reflection a doofus.
Squinting his other eye he supposes he can see why Anne-Marie thinks he’s cute, at least in a vaguely scruffy kinda way. Although the tiny frumpy cable knit sweater vest isn’t doing him any favors.
The door opens suddenly and James can see Erik stepping in behind him. They both freeze as their eyes meet in the mirror. Erik’s expression is frighteningly blank as he takes in James’ ridiculous posture. A thousand thoughts seem to flash through his glazed eyes before he begins slowly backing away and out the door again, shutting it with a decisive click in front of him. James hasn’t moved an inch throughout the whole bizarre scenario, still caught between deciding whether to be mortified or concerned about Erik’s reaction.
The next time they meet Erik looks away first.
Charles is irritable with mussed hair and bags under his eyes but melts when he catches Michael under the director’s chair, long paws encircling James, tenderly cleaning his companion’s droopy ears.
Erik is nearly homicidal from the lack of rest and the crazed gleam in his eyes puts all the cast on edge. The catering table also gets a not so coincidental makeover when all the cutlery is reduced to plastic sporks. When Erik manages to lodge even one of those into a wooden doorframe after a cowering production assistant they are replaced with plastic spoons and everyone gets used to eating a lot of sandwiches, macaroni, oatmeal and cereal in the interim.
Charles nods off in the middle of a sentence during an interview with BBC Breakfast. The next day there are articles in The Sun and The Daily Mirror filled with rampant speculation about whether the new leading X-Man was narcoleptic. Vaughn buys himself a jumbo Costco double-economy sized pack of aspirin and cries silently into his camera when he thinks nobody is looking.
After two weeks of this everyone involved is feeling quite miserable, that is, until Charles ends up falling asleep on top of Erik during their lunch break. Erik, at sensing the sudden intrusion into his personal bubble of space, prepares to snap the offender in half and instead finds himself turning inexplicably fond at seeing Charles’ rather unattractive slack-jawed impersonation of a limp rag.
The sputtering fervent apologies as well as Charles’ scandalized look at the damp patch left on Erik’s jacket shoulder only seems to enchant him more. His mood and his attitude towards Micheal’s singing voice improves rapidly after that.
Along with the addition of a disconcertingly cheerful demeanor, Erik makes it his mission to be perfectly positioned whenever Charles begins to nod off from then on. The crew quickly learns to never sit on either side of Charles unless they wish to subject themselves to Erik’s brand of reseating “help.”
Although this means there are no more violent attempts on anyone’s life on set, Erik’s suddenly jovial disposition only causes more unrest, his perpetually sunny, shark-like grin serving to unnerve his terrified coworkers even more. Charles, oblivious to the mayhem, blushes at the solicitous attention from Erik.
There are other dogs on the cast but when not doing scenes James likes hanging out with Michael best. Not that they aren’t all good fun and he does have a rollicking time with the chappies, but sometimes they’re just so *young.*
The golden retriever, Lucas, is nice but a little too hyper. He seems to have only one mood setting, which is stuck on SUPER EXCITED, ISN’T FILMING THIS COOL, SQUIRREL! He also has a somewhat unhealthy obsession with Frisbee, often wriggling out of his chestplate between takes to use it in a makeshift game or three. Usually the Irish setter, Sean, is up for going along with Lucas’ antics when he isn’t too busy getting secondhand Mary Jane from his human actor Caleb.
Beast, the Newfoundland, is by far the most passive of the puppies, but he seems to have more in common with Charles than with James himself. He’s definitely the most intellectual dog James has ever met (although probably not for long if he keeps electrocuting himself nibbling wires during his “experiments”) and sadly close to being the most socially inept if his blundering attempts to woo Raven are anything to go by.
A luxuriant pure white Doll Face Persian, Emma is the very vision of genteel sophistication. But underneath that sparkling pristine façade Michael knows is a kitty heart as black as the hounds at the gates of hell. She will cut you and leave your steaming entrails to the noonday sun as soon as talk to you. And god help you if you get so much as a speck of dirt on her Limited Edition Chanel Diamond Kitty Collar (as the ill-fated Mata Mata turtle, Darwin, found to his ultimate sorrow, Bastet rest his good natured soul).
Predictably it’s Emma who first raises the speciesist/sexist issues of the film. Stating that all the good guys in the movie end up being dogs and males (Raven grumbles “same difference” at this while Michael wisely keeps his trap shut).
They’re hanging out in the trailer shared by Emma and her human partner, Kevin, who she’s still snitty at for playfully splashing at the three cats during one of the boat scenes. Michael thinks about protesting their current point of conversation in defense of his boyfriend’s honor but the sound of tearing as Raven and Emma take turns sharpening their claws on a stack of Kevin’s silk ties convinces him otherwise and he goes back to his nap.
“Maybe we should play with Riptide. We hardly ever talk to him.”
“James he’s a fish. I don’t think he can talk, and even if he could we wouldn’t be able to understand him.”
But James insists for the sake of cultivating a friendly atmosphere at work and after an hour of silently watching the Whiptail Stingray flapping its fins against the aquarium walls, Michael responds with “Welp! That was entertaining. Can we go now?”
Filming is suspended for the day when Sean and Lucas attempt to eat Zoe’s Goliath Butterfly and manage to damage Angel’s cage. Zoe is remarkably understanding of the dog’s behavior towards her film partner and waves it off.
Later on though Michael catches her crouched in a corner giving James a belly rub and whispering to him, “I know anyone my boy chooses would be too clever to try and eat their coworkers. Isn’t that right? You’re my handsome smart son-in-law aren’t you?”
Feeling disturbed Michael decides to leave and overlook the whole incident.
It’s soon apparent to Michael that he can access any trailer by standing on his hind legs and hooking his paws around the latch because everyone underestimates the kitty and nobody locks their doors during shooting. This is especially fantastic since Erik doesn’t have a lot of belongings but he stashes caches of food like he’s preparing for nuclear winter. Mostly stuff that wouldn’t look out of place in army rations; meal bars, tinned biscuits and dried fruits. But he also has lots and lots of beef jerky, which is why despite his surly temperament he is one of James’ favorite people. Michael hits the mother-lode when he finds a carefully wrapped package of smoked white fish hidden behind a wall of bottled water in the mini fridge.
Contemplating the treasure trove, Michael ruthlessly exploits James’ weakness for dehydrated meat products and makes a date of it.
A few hours and several chewed up wrappers later, James’ stomach is noticeably distended and pudgy from his indulgence but Michael still has a grand time snuggling with him on top of one of Erik’s butter soft leather jackets left on the bed. Michael is a very large proponent of the term “finder’s keepers” and he figures it’s not intruding if it’s his crib too.
When Erik and Charles arrive ready for a nightcap and more “Chess” (judging by Erik’s face Michael would wager he was looking to get lucky that night too) they’re stunned by the mess strewn about.
The door swings shut behind them in the fascinated silence that follows as four pairs of eyes, man and animal, are riveted together.
Michael takes this time to make good his escape, quickly nipping James out of his stupor and darting between the flabbergasted humans’ legs. He also gets to demonstrate his little ability when facilitating his and James’ getaway.
“Marvelous” Charles says delightedly at the display, still a little taken aback, while Erik quietly fumes nearby.
The thing about James and Michael is that they’re animals, but at the same time its best to keep in mind that they’re also great actors. There’s a reason why they’ve been placed as co-leads in a multimillion dollar summer blockbuster after all. And they can cry crocodile tears with the best of them. It’s a talent they have no qualms about displaying if they can use it to get out of trouble, whimpering pathetically with huge watery eyes until the targeted human caves.
Charles is still impressed by Michael’s trick and is in no need of convincing although he tries to look stern for Erik’s sake. This quickly fails as he crumbles in the face of James’ devastating baby blues. Before the dog can even attempt his first sniffle, Charles is already bending down to coo sympathetic nonsense about the wonderful carnivorous strategy that James has inherited from his distant Wolven ancestors.
Erik is a considerably tougher nut to crack, but miming hunger and putting his lean body to advantage Michael presents himself rather well as a poor little starveling. When Erik looks away with a bitten off curse and stalks towards the cafeteria lunch line, Michael breaths a silent sigh of relief and winks at James who is busy being coddled in Charles’ arms.