For over three years, Zetsu had been trying to help Tobi tell Konan about his feelings. Though the woman already knew, she was patient in letting the man come to her by himself. Tobi's infatuation with the blue-haired member seemed to grow stronger each day, arousing him often. He wasn't sure how much longer he could hold out on telling her.
There was another new member coming today, Tobi had been told. Itachi, Kisame and Sasori had gone to fetch him. He knew that this member was to be Sasori's partner – a replacement for Orochimaru.
Tobi was bored. Zetsu was out on a mission as was Konan, leaving him with no one to play with. He had taken to wandering around the base, knowing that Konan was supposed to be returning soon. After his twenty-third lap of the base, he soon found himself in the path of one angry new recruit.
At first, Tobi couldn't tell if it were a boy or a girl, but the person's voice proved that it were a boy. He pushed himself up against the wall, making room for Sasori to drag the recruit past him with Itachi and Kisame following behind.
Kisame grinned at Tobi. "This one's a real psycho, Tobi. Watch out, okay?"
Tobi nodded absentmindedly as he looked at the blonde hair that was quickly disappearing around the corner. Something about the male made the young man feel as he needed to get to know him. He ran up to Sasori and the blonde, walking beside them.
"E-excuse Tobi…" Tobi whimpered, avoiding eye contact. "…What is new person's name…?"
"…" The new member just stared at Tobi with a face contorted with different emotions. "…Deidara."
"Deidara-san?" Tobi whimpered. "…Will you be friends with Tobi…?"
"No." Deidara said coldly and without hesitation.
The small smiled that Tobi had formed for just a second dropped. It made him glad that he was wearing his mask.
"…Oh… Okay, then… Tobi is sorry for bothering…" Tobi was quick to disappear once again.
"Smooth one, jerk." Kisame growled. "The poo kid is normally so terrified of people, and when he finally decides that he wants to be friends, you blow him off like an asshole!"
"Why should I care?" Deidara spat. "It's not like I should care about him. Who cares? Not me. He looks like a retard, anyway. …Un."
"Jerk." Kisame spat back. He left Sasori and Itachi alone with the blonde. He was furious about the ill-treatment of the mentally-challenged man.
"What's the deal with that 'Tobi' guy, anyway, yeah?" Deidara asked Pein once they were alone in the ginger's office.
"He's Zetsu's subordinate." Pein explained calmly. "Why do you ask?"
"That fish-guy said something about him being terrified of people, yeah."
"That's right. Tobi has a mental retardation as well as a social one. There was a time in his past where he had been used as a human guinea pig for awful experiments, as well as a sex-toy. He has very deep scars, and to see him go up to a complete stranger like that has not happened in almost fifteen years."
"Who would do such a thing?" Deidara asked, feigning disgust. Really, he was just morbidly curious about the situation.
"That's something I won't tell you." Pein narrowed his eyes at Deidara.
Those words only left Deidara with a burning curiosity.
Zetsu had returned from his mission at dinner. As soon as Tobi felt his chakra, he rushed to the elder's side, hugging him and telling him all about Deidara. The plant-nin had been furious once he heard about Tobi's treatment.
"That little shit is dead!" Growled Zetsu, turning to march to the dining room where everyone was.
"No, Zetsu-san!" Tobi cried out, throwing himself onto the ground and hugging Zetsu's leg. "Tobi want be friend… Be friend with Deidara-san!"
Zetsu stopped with a sigh. He wanted Tobi to be as happy as he could possibly be, but in order for that to happen, he had to recover fully. Now that Tobi had found something he instantly liked, who was he to take them away?
"…Alright…" Zetsu muttered after minutes of debating. "But on one condition – you have to tell Konan about your feelings. Now."
Dinner was hectic. Deidara, albeit only being fourteen, was picking fights with everyone – especially Itachi. Deidara had even shot Tobi hateful glares and Zetsu disgusted ones as they entered the dining room together.
Konan smiled at Tobi and held her arms open for him to fall into.
"Konan-chan…?" Tobi whimpered, shaking. He sent a scared look to Zetsu.
"Yes, sweet baby?" Konan whispered. She rocked Tobi back and forth to try and send him some comfort from whatever was making him uncomfortable.
"…Tobi has to tell Konan-chan something important…"
Zetsu nodded encouragingly at the boy. Konan saw this and smiled, tightening her grip. She knew what he wanted to say.
Tobi gulped in terror. "…Umm… Tobi really like Konan-chan…"
Tobi hid his face in the woman's shoulder, expecting some sort of abuse or punishment. He remembered how Orochimaru had been so cruel to him as he awaited Konan's reply.
Tobi whimpered as Konan laughed. He started to cry. In his mind, the blue-haired woman had rejected him and laughed because he had been a bad boy.
"I love you, too, Tobi-kun." Konan smiled as she kissed Tobi's head. "I always knew of your feelings, but I never said anything because I wanted you to tell me without pressure."
"Get a fucking room!" Deidara yelled, throwing a bowl of hot soup at Tobi and Konan.
Konan squealed as the soup burnt her exposed knee. Tobi screamed, hyperventilating as the tortures he had been put through ran through his mind, clear as crystal.
There was a loud crash as Zetsu tackled Deidara from his chair, furious that the blonde would dare harm his subordinate – especially in front of him.
Chaos was everywhere. Konan was consoling Tobi while Kisame chanted 'fight!' at Zetsu and Deidara excitedly. Kakuzu was bitching about the waste of money and Itachi was still sitting at the table, eating his soup as if not a thing was wrong in the world. Pein was trying to restore peace.
"Everyone, stop it right now!" Pein bellowed angrily.
Everyone stopped what they were doing except for Konan and Tobi. Pein understood their situation.
"Take him to my office and deal with him there, Konan." Pein said. "You go, too, Deidara! The rest of you are to clean up this mess! Even you, Uchiha!"
With that said, Pein stormed off to his office after the other three. He could hear Konan yelling from down the hall.
"Enough, Konan." Pein said as he entered his office. He turned immediately to Deidara. "Explain yourself, Deidara-chan."
Deidara bristled at being called 'chan'. "Why should I? …Un."
"You jackass!" Konan shouted. "He saved you from being eaten! Show some respect!"
"It's alright, Konan." Pein calmed the woman. "Take your time, Deidara. I'm not busy."
As Pein waited patiently for Deidara to speak up, he approached Tobi. He held his hands out in front of him so that Tobi could see them and know that he was no threat.
"Relax, Tobi-kun." Pein whispered. "You know I won't hurt you. Was it the memories again?"
"Y-y-yes…" Tobi whimpered, hiccupping.
"Tobi, you need to understand that he isn't here, anymore. He can never harm you again. Ne?"
"N-ne… Tobi scared…"
"Baby, I'm here." Konan said, hugging Tobi. "Zetsu is right outside this room, listening in, too. We'll die to protect you, Tobi-kun."
"I did what I did because I hate him!" Deidara shouted before another word could be spoken. Tears were in his eyes. "He reminds me too much of Iwa! And seeing him here with so many people that care for him made me realise that I never had anyone who ever cared for me! Happy now?"
"Deidara-san…" Pein raised an eyebrow. "…That is no excuse to harm your teammates."
"I don't care! I hate him, yeah!"
"Tobi, would you like to say something?" Pein asked in an attempt to diffuse the situation.
"T-tobi want know why Deidara-san… hate Tobi…"
With this, Deidara stormed from the office, but Pein didn't chase after him.
"Leave him be." Pein said. "He's going through a hard time as well."
Tobi had gone to sleep as soon as Pein had allowed him to leave the office. With everyone acting as they were, it was probably for the best. Deidara was, yet again, picking fights with the other members. After being Tsukuyomi'd by Itachi, Deidara left in a foul mood.
As Deidara passed by Zetsu's bedroom an hour later, he stopped as he hard crying inside. Was that Tobi? And Zetsu comforting him?
"It's going to be alright," Zetsu said from behind the closed door. "We won't allow you to be raped ever again."
"Z-zetsu-san!" Tobi sobbed. "Tobi d-dreamed about e-everything again!"
"So it wasn't just the rape? What else happened, Tobi?"
Tobi gulped. He could never stand talking about what Orochimaru had put him through.
"T-tobi's head…" Tobi whimpered. "…was c-cut open… Orochimaru… hurt Tobi's brain with knives… and he… he kept pulling pieces of Tobi's brain out!"
As Tobi said this, Deidara could hear him break down into more tears. He frowned. So some guy named Orochimaru had raped and brain-mutilated Tobi?
"Ha!" Deidara laughed loudly. "Probably why he's such a fucking retard – shit!"
Deidara got ready to run before Zetsu caught him, but said man had merged with the wall, reappearing before him. The green-haired male looked furious. He gulped.
"How much did you hear?" Zetsu asked coldly. Deidara didn't answer. He snarled. "We said; how much did you hear?"
"Enough to learn that Tobi was raped and had his brain fucked with…" Deidara said in a small voice. Zetsu creeped him out.
Zetsu snarled again. "Say a word to anyone about what you had heard and I will personally see to it that you are my next meal!"
"I-I mean – no – you –" Deidara sputtered, terrified.
"Zetsu-san!" Tobi screamed from inside the room. Pain was evident in his voice. "Zetsu-san, Tobi hurt himself again!"
Zetsu re-merged with the wall so that he could tend to his subordinate. Deidara opened the door, peeking through the crack. The plant-nin was pulling a razor from the boy's hand and then wrapped a bandage around bloody wrists.
Deidara squinted and was able to see a tear run down Zetsu's pale cheek. He closed the door silently before heading to his own room. So Tobi knew the agony of sexual abuse, too…?
The next day, Tobi and Zetsu hadn't been seen by anyone. Deidara thought that this was strange.
"Where are Tobi and Zetsu? …Un." He asked.
"When Tobi's bi-polar gets too much," Kisame began coldly, "Zetsu always takes him out for a change of scenery. They're probably in another village by now."
"Why do you care?" Itachi spat. His eyes bled into Mangekyou. Just because Tobi didn't like him didn't mean the feeling was mutual – Tobi reminded the Uchiha of Sasuke. Even though he would never admit it, he cared a lot about Tobi.
"I don't. …Un."
It was true – Deidara certainly didn't care about Tobi or Zetsu – he just wanted to stick his nose into their business and make things worse for them.