Kisame had always been the friendliest Akatsuki member. He was loud and playful, ferocious in battle and yet kind and gentle when others were in need of it. He was friends with every member. Well, all but one.

Zetsu had always been the outcast. The other members rarely spoke to him, and no one came near him if they could help it. Zetsu was the mysterious one, the one nobody cared for and certainly didn't notice.

But Kisame did. He always had.

-XX-

"Hello, Kisa-chan!" Tobi chirped happily as he ran past Kisame in his hurry to find Zetsu.

"Hello, Tobi-kun." Kisame grinned at the kid. "How are you feeling today?"

"Good, thank you, Kisa-chan!"

"That's excellent, Tobi-kun. Will you say hi to Zetsu for me?"

"Of course! He'll be so happy!"

Kisame grinned again, ruffling the kid's hair before leaving.

Tobi had been rescued from his abusive village just a few weeks ago by Zetsu. Ever since Zetsu had brought him back to the base and had showed him nothing but affection, Tobi had warmed up to him, making Zetsu the happiest he had been since he could remember. Tobi wasn't one to judge on looks or label people, and Tobi absolutely adored Zetsu. In return, Zetsu offered Tobi safety and love.

When Tobi did find Zetsu in his bedroom that morning his young, traumatised mind was set into overdrive.

"Zet-san?" Tobi whimpered, kneeling down next to his idol. Zetsu's eyes were closed and he didn't appear to be breathing. "Are you okay? Answer me, Zet-san!"

Tobi had grown frantic, shaking the unresponsive Zetsu's shoulder roughly and screaming his name. His noise eventually brought Kisame in.

"What's wrong, kiddo?" he asked, kneeling next to Tobi worriedly to poke at Zetsu.

"Is he going to be okay, Kisa-chan?" Tobi whimpered, his eyes filled with unshed tears.

"I'm not sure... I think he's been poisoned."

Kisame, trying his best not to scare Tobi more, picked him up and gently slung Zetsu over his shoulders, carrying him to Sasori's room.

"Tobi," Kisame said to the boy trailing behind him, "be a good boy and inform Sasori for me?"

"Hai!" And with that, Tobi had taken off.

Now that Tobi was gone, Kisame could go about things more urgently.

"Don't you dare die on me, Zetsu!" Kisame growled, quickening his pace. A pained moan answered him. "Are you conscious, Zetsu?"

"Mm..."

Kisame growled again. Zetsu, by nature, was a silent man. He never spoke to anyone but Pein and Tobi, and even then he rarely spoke unless spoken to first. Kisame didn't see how this situation would be any different.

"Zetsu, talk to me! Who did this to you?"

"Don't touch us..." Zetsu moaned. "Put us down..."

"No! You need urgent medical attention!"

"Do... not..." Zetsu's voice was becoming more and more slurred, weak.

After what felt like hours, Kisame had made it to Sasori's room and found that Tobi had just finished sobbing the story to an uninterested Sasori.

"Sasori-san," Kisame called, stepping in the room urgently. "Quick! He's weak!"

Sasori shrugged. "So?"

"He's been poisoned, Sasori! He needs you!"

"…Lay him on the work bench, Kisa-kun." Sasori said in monotone.

Kisame did so, hearing the loud moan from the usually silent man.

"Zet-san!" Tobi cried, tears streaming down his face.

"For goodness' sake, Sasori-san! If you don't do something he's gonna die!"

As Sasori was about to reply with 'not my problem' he was interrupted by Tobi's screaming.

"Zet-san, don't die!" With this, Tobi fled the room, crying harder, screaming out for Konan. "Konan-sama, Zet-san is gonna die!"

"Poor Tobi!" Kisame exclaimed, looking horrified at Sasori; killing people was one thing, but... "He's only a boy!"

"He's got to learn about death someday."

"He's a nine-year-old boy who was almost beaten to death by his own village! I'm sure he knows plenty!"

"Sasori!" A female voice called from down the hall. "What's this about Zet-sama being poisoned?"

An angry Konan and Pein appeared in the doorway with Tobi hiding timidly behind them, tears marking their way down his pale cheeks.

"You will heal Zet-kun. Now!" Pein shouted, anger in his voice, but Kisame didn't blame him; he was close to Zetsu, after all.

"He's disgusting!" Sasori exclaimed. "I will not tou-"

"Zet-kun!" Pein cried, drawing all attention over to the Kusa-nin.

Pein, Konan, Tobi and Kisame hurried to their comrade's side as Zetsu began coughing up blood and nearly convulsing.

"Fuck!" Pein cried out in distress. "His internal organs have already been damaged! Hurry up Sasori!"

With a sigh Sasori approached Zetsu, using his chakra to find the poison. It didn't take long at all, and the other four Akatsuki members could only watch and wait.

"Hmm..." Sasori muttered, analysing the poison closely.

"What is it?" Pein asked, concern in his voice; Sasori was a master of poisons, so if he didn't know…

"It's strange... this poison... Zetsu came to me asking me for a vial yesterday..."

"You're saying he poisoned himself?" Konan gasped. "No!"

"Yes. I made this poison the day before I gave Zetsu a vial."

"Don't just stand there! Make an antidote!"

"There is one problem..." Sasori didn't seem to care very much about the situation and only examined his nails, scratching them lightly against his shirt.

"What may that be?" Pein asked warily.

"There is no antidote as of yet, and even if I try and make one, well... this is a fast-acting poison. He most likely won't make it."

"Zet-san!" Tobi screamed, running to his mentor and trying to wrap his skinny arms around Zetsu.

Kisame stopped him, pulling him away from the Kusa-nin. "Don't touch him, kiddo. We can't put any unnecessary strain on his body."

Tobi nodded, snivelling pitifully, instead hugging Kisame.

"Find the antidote, Sasori!" Pein screamed.

"Relax, Zet-sama," Konan whispered gently, wiping all the sweat from Zetsu's forehead gently.

Zetsu's eyes snapped open again. "Don't touch us!" he cried out weakly, fear in his eyes, his voice laced with it. "We don't want to be touched!"

"Shh... Relax..." Konan tried once again to get her hands on Zetsu's body but he only freaked out more.

"Stop, Konan-chan," Pein said. "That will only help the poison spead."

"Argh!" Zetsu screamed. His hands went to his tummy, hunching over.

"Zet-san!" Tobi screamed again, struggling in Kisame's hold.

Zetsu's eyes, glazed over with tears, turned to Tobi, immediately filling with affection despite the agony running through his body.

"T-tobi is a g-g-good boy." He stuttered, smiling weakly, before his world turned black once more.