Three times, maybe, but Brendon totally didn't know Jon had put the carrot bites in Brendon's jean pockets until it was way, way too late.
The bunny came to him, okay? It did, it hopped right over on its unnaturally--read awesomely--large feet and planted said front feet on Brendon's knee and sniffled at him with a very soft, very twitchy nose. It wasn't like Brendon went into the shoot planning to steal a bunny, but when he tentatively put his finger to said nose, the bunny stilled under the attention and then just settled while he soothed his hand over its back, again and again and again.
It was so, so soft, the softest thing Brendon had ever felt, even including Clover and both Dylans and Hobo and Boba. And its nose tickled when it sniffed its way around Brendon. Its nails were kind of sharp, but it didn't claw, just climbed and crawled up Brendon, its nose making its way into Brendon's neck, against his cheek. Brendon laughed, hugging the bunny to him. It seemed unsure about that for a moment, but when it realized he was still going to pet it, it calmed right down.
The trainer found them like that and said, "Sebastian found himself a friend, huh?"
"Sebastian?" Brendon asked.
"Like from 'The Little Mermaid.' His spots look like crabs. And I let my son name him." She shrugged.
Brendon touched his nose to Sebastian's. "Hi," he said. Brendon was a big believer in destiny.
Spencer Smith was not.
When Spencer Smith very nearly tripped on Sebastian The World's Most Awesome Bunny at two in the morning, about an hour after they finally got off the shoot, he said, "Holy shit, what the fuck?"
Ryan and Jon peered out of the kitchen. Brendon ran from the bathroom, where he'd only gone for one second and told Sebastian, "I said to stay under the couch." It wasn't as though it had been easy, smuggling a fairly large mammal away from the set and finding somewhere for him to chill while Brendon came up with a reasonable and sane explanation for why Sebastian had to be his. I mean, clearly he did, anyone with any sense could see that, but Brendon had often found that Spencer, Ryan ad Jon defined "sense" slightly differently than Brendon.
Sebastian was chewing on the bottoms of Spencer's slippers. Spencer stepped away. "Oh fuck no."
Sebastian hopped over to Brendon and sniffed at his--bare--feet. Brendon reached down, curled himself over the bunny and scooped him up. He said, "This is Sebastian, guys."
Ryan gaped. Spencer snapped into bitch-face. Jon looked like he was trying pretty hard not to laugh. Finally Spencer said, "Brendon."
"Brendon. Tell me you did not steal a trained bunny from our very fucking own video shoot."
Brendon frowned. "I didn't steal him. He adopted me. See?" Brendon looked down at where Sebastian was pretty much completely passed out in his arms.
Ryan and Spencer both looked suspicious. Jon Walker was totally in Brendon's corner, though, Brendon could tell. Or well, he didn't look surprised, and that was something. Brendon explained, "He came up to me and he just followed me."
"I followed lots of people around the casino when I was a kid, Brendon," Ryan said, looking a little concerned. Brendon was momentarily glad he had context and the knowledge of Ryan's love of people watching to go with that comment. Somebody probably should have taken Ryan home, but Brendon didn't say that. There were fair ways to fight and there were unfair ways, and Brendon only got unfair when it was really called for. Then Brendon could fucking rain hellfire down. That wasn't necessary at this moment, though.
All he had to say was, "Rabbits are different than people, Ryan."
Ryan rolled his eyes. "Brendon--"
"I can't believe you actually fucking stole a rabbit." Spencer seemed kind of torn between pissed and a little impressed. Brendon carefully did not smile. Spencer totally should have seen him sneak past the props room and run like hell for the car. It had been awesome. Sebastian had clung the whole entire time. And okay, maybe that was because he was like, five feet off the ground, and for humans that wasn't such a huge deal, but bunnies were kind of small. Even big ones, like Sebastian. But whatever. He'd stayed with Brendon, and that was what mattered.
"I didn't. He came home with me. There's a difference."
Jon shifted slightly and Ryan looked sharply at him, all of a sudden. There was a moment of silence and then Ryan said, "Jon Walker," very, very accusatorily.
"Ryan Ross," Jon said, but it sounded like a question.
"Jon Walker. If I do Brendon's laundry, will I find rabbit treats in his pockets?"
"If you do Brendon's laundry, he'll have to resell his clothes at Baby Gap."
"That's where he got them in the first place," Spencer said.
"Oh, like you're a regular giant," Brendon said, but he was pretty busy nuzzling Sebastian and watching Jon and Ryan face off.
Ryan was not the kind of guy you wanted to go up against in a staring match, not even if you were Jon Walker. It took a few minutes, but Ryan won, cleanly, if a little brutally. Jon muttered, "Maybe."
Ryan put his hands on his hips. "We've fucking talked about this, Jon Walker. Twice." Ryan held out two fingers to illustrate his point.
"He didn't steal the koala," Jon said, in his defense. It was a pretty stupid defense. Ryan was going to find holes all over that one.
Instead, he just smacked Jon upside the head. "No more, Jon Walker."
"All right, all right," Jon agreed. Jon was pretty easy to convince with a lot of things.
Spencer said, "You have to give it back, Brendon."
"Him," Brendon said quietly.
"What?" Spencer asked.
"Him. Sebastian is a him. You want me to give him back."
Spencer crumbled a little at that. "Brendon-- His trainer is probably frantic."
Brendon hadn't really thought about that. She'd said her son had named him. Some kid was probably really sad about his missing bunny. Brendon was a jerk. He sighed and snuggled Sebastian super close. He whispered, "It's okay, I bet they give you treats at home all the time." Then he set Sebastian down and dug out the carrots Jon had planted on him. Sebastian ate them happily up, never once even nipping Brendon's fingers.
The trainer actually was pretty frantic. Evidently Sebastian was worth a few hundred dollars, and also, her son's favorite. Brendon was pretty sure she was going to yell at him again--she had on the phone--but when she saw him, something in her expression went quiet and she just said, "No more stealing trained animals, okay?"
She made Brendon promise.
It was stupid, Brendon knew, to miss something he'd barely even had for a couple of hours, but Brendon had never really worried too much about whether he was stupid or not. Well, maybe when Ryan was watching. Or Spencer. But that was about it. So he let himself curl up on the couch and watch whatever Jon put on the television without really paying much attention, or play stuff on the piano that was all muscle memory, Fur Elise and Moonlight Sonata and all the other every-childhood-recital staples. Jon ruffled his hair and, at one point even murmured something that sounded like, "Sorry," but Brendon wasn't really paying attention.
Spencer even bought peppermint stick ice cream, which was one of Brendon's absolute favorites and really, really hard to find during this time of year, but it just wasn't quite a substitute for something furry and cuddly, and something that loved Brendon.
Brendon didn't really let on, or at least, he tried his best not to. He didn't really feel up to being teased about it, so he just smiled at all the right times, and jumped on the other guys a requisite amount and carried on like all was perfectly normal. Brendon was good, really good, at his own version of normal. It had gotten him through worse times than this.
The problem being that Ryan Ross, at some point, had gotten really good at Brendon. Ryan Ross was somehow always the flaw in Brendon's brilliant plans. In this instance, it was just that Ryan kept looking at him, eyes flatly curious, the same way his questions always were. Brendon sucked at lying to Ryan, even with his smiles. All the same, he thought he was doing all right, decent, at least, until the day he walked into Ryan's apartment and Ryan was sitting cross-legged on the floor, having a staring match with a butterscotch colored bunny. The bunny had one ear straight up, the other flopping down, its nose twitching wildly, but otherwise, it was just watching Ryan.
Ryan looked up and said, "I named her Belle, just until you came up with something better."
"Um, Belle?" Brendon said. It was his fate that he was always stupidest with the people he most wanted to appear smart around.
Ryan shrugged. "Belle and Sebastian." Ryan nodded his head to some song Brendon couldn't hear.
Brendon said, "Okay, um--"
"Do you not like her? There were ones with spots, but she-- She was found abandoned in a park."
Brendon walked over and sat down across from Ryan so that they bunny was in between them. "You got me a bunny?"
"You really liked that other one," Ryan said softly. "Oh, and look." He twisted around for something and when he turned back to face Brendon, he had a box of raisins. He opened it and dug one out, holding it out to Belle. She sniffed at it and then took it from him.
Brendon widened his eyes. "Wow. She didn't even touch you."
"I know, she's super good at it. You want?" Ryan held out the box of raisins. Belle hopped around to look at him hopefully, her up-reaching ear all aquiver. Brendon was a completely lost cause.
So long as they proofed the TV and cable cords, Belle was perfectly sized for the bus. She slept in Brendon's bunk, was very neat about going in her litter, which they kept in the bathroom, and loved, loved, loved to follow the nearest boy she could find around. Brendon missed her during shows. He would have taken her on stage, but he was a little afraid some rabid fangirl would eat her, or something equally traumatizing. It was always exciting to climb back on the bus, though, open the mini-fridge and have her hop over.
He laughed. "You know what that means, huh?" and held out a lettuce leaf.
She said, "nom nom nom."
It wasn't really a test, or anything, but when Brendon went and curled up in Ryan's bunk, Belle followed him right inside. Things were a little crowded when Ryan got there, but after a second he just worked himself in carefully, making certain not to squish Belle. She sniffed his neck and settled right back down again. Ryan said, "Hi."
"You got me a bunny," Brendon said, because it had been nearly a month and he'd thought up a million really cool speeches, and none of them said exactly what needed to be said, which was, well, Ryan had gotten him a bunny.
"You're just noticing?"
"I'm just..." Brendon took a breath. "I'm just getting up the nerve to ask you about it."
Ryan looked away when he said, "You seemed sad about the first bunny," which was what gave Brendon the nerve to lean over Belle a little and kiss the corner of Ryan's mouth.
"Thanks?" Brendon said.
Ryan looked at him, his eyes careful. Slowly, he leaned in for another kiss, this one with more mouth involved. "You're welcome?"
Brendon grinned against Ryan's mouth and said, "One second." He scooped Belle up and set her in the top bunk--Jon's, in this case--where she wouldn't jump down. Then he slipped back in Ryan's bunk and said, "Silly rabbit, Trix--"
"Jesus," Ryan said, laughing, kissing him quiet, "shut up."
Brendon did, sort of. But only until they got to the part where he wanted to say, "'Ryan, Ryan, Ryan."