"Tobi doesn't understand why Senpai hates him..." Tobi whined to his older cousin, Itachi.
Itachi sighed. "Tobi, Deidara likes that guy at your school, remember? Sasori."
"But Senpai can like Tobi, too, Itachi-kun!" Tobi defiantly exclaimed.
Itachi shook his head, getting up from his seat and leaving his younger cousin alone in the kitchen. Tobi literally couldn't understand why Deidara hated him, even when Itachi explained it to him. It wasn't Tobi's fault - his mind could never be the same again because of the accident he was in as a child.
As Itachi walked to his bedroom, he heard Tobi in the kitchen sobbing. It hurt him to leave Tobi like that, but Itachi would only be wasting his time trying to calm Tobi down.
"Senpai..." Tobi blushed the next day at school as he sat next to Deidara in maths.
It was a regular occurrence – Tobi would sit next to the blonde, trying to get some kind words – or at least a hello – out of him, and very rarely would Deidara acknowledge the Uchiha.
Deidara ignored Tobi as he usually did, writing down the notes that were on the board. He heard Tobi sigh from beside him and he smirked - he really did hate Tobi, more than anyone he had ever met before.
"Has everyone done their homework?" The teacher asked as soon as she entered the classroom just moments later. She was ignoring Tobi's tears of sadness dropping down on his maths book as she made her way to her desk to begin the class.
Tobi was silent for once the entire lesson, not even bothering to try and get Deidara's attention. All the boy did was stare at his desk with a whimper every now and then as he tried his best to control his tears.
When the class finished an hour and quarter later, Deidara watched as Tobi grabbed his things and fled the scene as if a pack of wolves were after him. He felt a tiny pang of regret strike him, but being Deidara, was able to shrug it off and continue on as if nothing had happened.
He picked his own belongings up, ready to leave the room as well but the teacher called him back before he could get very far.
"Deidara-kun," she said when Deidara had approached her, "I've spoken with all of Tobi-kun's other teachers, and he's only ever upset in Maths – and this is the only class you two have together. I've noticed he does fine in this class when he's not with you, so I want to know what you're doing to him."
"Nothing." Deidara honestly said - he never did do anything except ignore Tobi. "Look, he's my best friend's cousin and if I did anything to Tobi he'd kill me. …Hmm."
The teacher sighed, knowing that she couldn't do anything more at this stage. "Alright, Deidara-kun. You may go."
Deidara found Sasori in the cafeteria just fifteen minutes later and sat next to him with a big sigh.
"What's gotten into you?" Sasori asked as he looked at the blonde.
"Hmm? I'm fine. It's that stupid brat, Tobi. …Un"
"I heard that he went home because he was so distressed." Sasori said, grabbing his milk carton and shaking it around. "He's normally a happy boy... why do you treat him like that?"
Deidara shrugged. He knew that Sasori didn't really care - he was just curious. "Hate him. …Un."
Sasori shrugged as well, seemingly unfazed by the entire situation. "Whatever. You got the answers for the biology test?"
Itachi had picked Tobi up at lunch when the school rang him and said that Tobi was in hysterics. Halfway home had found Tobi in the passenger seat of the car, sobbing quietly to himself.
Itachi sighed and reached out, grabbing Tobi's hand and squeezing gently.
"It's alright, Tobi." Itachi said in his usual monotone voice. "Did you sit with Sasuke for your first break today?"
Tobi nodded, wiping at his tears. He hated Itachi seeing him so weak. "Sasuke-kun was sitting with his boyfriend and they got kissy-kissy so Tobi left..."
Itachi felt a smile tug at his lips. He knew that Tobi was uncomfortable with sexual situations because he didn't understand what it truly meant.
It really did make Itachi laugh when Tobi would walk in on he and his own boyfriend making love. The poor boy would blush and stutter when he tried to apologise and normally run into the wall after spinning around to try and run out of the room.
"Why don't you try and approach Deidara in a different way, Tobi?" Itachi suggested softly. "He's coming over tonight so you still have a few hours to think of a new method."
Tobi sighed, looking down at his lap. "Tobi doesn't think he can do it..."
Itachi remained silent at these words but Tobi understood - Itachi never spoke if he thought there was no point. Now was one of those times.
Itachi sat with Tobi in his bedroom, trying to pick out an outfit for Tobi that would make Tobi seem less childish, but it wasn't easy. The majority of Tobi's wardrobe consisted of bright, childish clothing.
It took at least fifteen minutes but they at last settled on a plain white shirt and some pants.
Out in the living room, Sasuke and his boyfriend, Naruto, were watching television together. It was beginning to get intimate between the two. They knew that when Tobi would come out they would have to relocate to somewhere private but, for now, they were taking advantage of the short time that they had in the living room together.
"Where was Tobi at lunch, today?" Naruto asked Sasuke after a long kiss.
"Oh, he went home." Sasuke kissed back. "He was feeling unwell so nii-san picked him up."
Naruto nodded and they kissed again. He lowered his hands to pull at the waistband of the Uchiha's pants. Sasuke pulled away, an uncertain look on his face.
"We really shouldn't-" Sasuke began, thinking of how Tobi would react if he walked in on them making love.
"Sasuke, he's seventeen..." Naruto tried to reason. "One day it'll be him and another person in our position."
Sasuke sighed before nodding. He knew that Naruto was right, but it didn't feel right staining his older cousin's innocence like this.
"Let's go to our room, then." Sasuke tried to reason, hearing Tobi's bedroom door open.
Naruto nodded and they quickly scuttled away - Itachi didn't like the idea of Sasuke doing sexual things when he was still only sixteen, but then, as Sasuke pointed out, Itachi had already lost his virginity at fifteen to his current boyfriend who was almost twice Itachi's age.
As the two younger boys hurried to Sasuke's own bedroom, they could Itachi and Tobi talking about Deidara –specifically about how Tobi should act tonight around Deidara if he really wanted to get his attention. Was Itachi trying to set the two up together? Deidara hated Tobi!
"Try not to call him 'senpai' tonight, Tobi." Itachi explained, bringing Tobi into the kitchen to make them both a hot drink. "And try to act a little more mature, alright?"
"But Tobi wants senpai to like Tobi for whom he is." Tobi sighed. "Tobi isn't being Tobi doing that, Itachi-kun..."
"Tobi... Deidara won't like you the way you like him in just one night... it takes a long time to build up that kind of love and trust. If you can at least get him to like you tonight, then he'll eventually learn to accept you for you."
"Does Itachi-kun promise?"
Itachi smiled slightly. "I promise, Tobi."
Tobi sat at the table, watching his cousin move around the kitchen. He self-consciously rubbed at the scars on his face.
"Does senpai not like Tobi because of his scars...?" Tobi whispered. His voice trembled slightly.
"..." Itachi had to think about that. "I... I don't know, Tobi. But you know that it's not your fault you're scarred. You shouldn't be so self-conscious - it's a part of who you are, Tobi."
Tobi smiled at Itachi. "Did Itachi-kun and Kisame-san take a long time to build up love and trust?"
Itachi nodded. "Sure did. But it turned out for the best."
"Itachi-kun is happy with Kisame-san. Tobi wishes he and senpai could be like Itachi-kun and Kisame-san."
"Tobi." Itachi sat at the seat across from Tobi, sliding a mug of hot chocolate over to the younger. "One day you'll find a girl... or another boy, who will love you very much and want to make love with you. It doesn't have to be Deidara, Tobi... If Deidara doesn't like Tobi in that way than Tobi should just find someone else who does." Itachi smiled at Tobi gently.
Tobi smiled back at Itachi, knowing that his cousin was speaking the truth and only trying to look out for Tobi. Ever since the accident that had killed Tobi's parents, Itachi had taken the responsibility of caring for Tobi upon his shoulders – even at such a young age.
A/N So this is the first chapter. To avoid confusion, Itachi is twenty-one, and he and Dei met years ago through some unnamed mutual friend (you can decide who for yourselves).
The accident Tobi was in will be explained later, and it is pretty important to the plot.