Himiko puts a bright smile on her face with practiced ease, staring at the two heroes in front of her. It is a chilly day and she is stuck with grocery duty. But of course, she had found a way out of doing the hard work.
"Thank you so much for carrying my groceries," she tells them, clapping her hands gently together. "I always buy too much!"
One of the heroes smiles at her. "It's no problem, Misaki-san."
"Yes! It's incredibly diligent of you to go out on such a cold day."
She waves them off. "Well, my husband always gives his best at work. I want to be able to greet him with dinner full of love!"
Then she halts in her movements, turning to face the two heroes. Her eyes shine sharply as she stares at them, noting the attire and anything visible of their faces from behind the masks they are wearing. Masks hide a lot nowadays.
"Oh no, I'm more impressed by you, dear heroes. Always watching the streets even in this miserable weather."
"Ah, it's our duty, Misaki-san! Don't worry about it."
The other hero stops amid the conversation, narrowing his eyes at something in the distance. Then his eyes widen a bit and he turns to look at his partner, the easy-going expression from before replaced with a serious one. Himiko always loves it when heroes look so determined. The most interesting things seem to happen when that is the case.
"... Slugger, there seems to be a fire north-west from here.”
The other hero— Slugger , her mind supplies—nods and both turn to bow to her.
“Sorry, Misaki-san, we need to go!”
“It’s okay! I understand! Be careful!”
After dropping the groceries into her arms, Himiko watches them runoff, a small smile forming on her face. She doesn’t know who they are, has never really heard of him. Maybe that’s because she doesn’t pay that much attention to the news.
‘Misaki’ leaves and walks into an alleyway, where her brown eyes turn into a gleaming shade of yellow and her dark locks bend into a hue of blond. It’s always so easy to trick those unsuspecting heroes. Securing the bags in her arms a bit more, she starts skipping on her way back. As she hums a familiar melody, which she heard on the radio today, she can’t keep the excitement hidden. Himiko can’t wait to tell him about who she met today.
He’s going to be so delighted!
There’s a certain way that words can affect someone.
If you twist them just a bit, mix them into something unbelievable to the point it would be silly to not believe it. Or, if you break them apart to the point you’ll have to reconstruct them to something completely different—but they still sound like they make sense—then you know how to win the game of words, the one that everyone plays even if only unconsciously. It’s scary, isn’t it? You don’t know just what you cause until it backfires on you, hits you in the spots that hurt the most.
It makes sense though , Izuku muses, whilst typing away on his laptop’s keyboard, Deceit is nothing but the conundrum of human nature.
It’s not like he doesn’t know that, he’s a tired human being after all. Every day repeats itself in the grey hues of morality. Every day he whispers, murmurs into people’s hearts and tells them the things they want or need to hear. Lie.
He tells them the things he wants or needs them to hear.
His cruelty has no boundaries in that sense. But he does what he does because life can be very precious - something to cherish. It’s difficult though, living in this lunacy of altercations and misconceptions. Someday he’s going to be the one to bury his own grave and it won’t be pretty, he knows that.
Sighing, he stretches his arms out and twirls his chair around to face the door of his room.
“Dabs, you okay over there?”
He stands up and leaves the room.
On his laptop’s surface is an article.
An article about the No.2 hero on the JP Hero Billboards Chart.
There are quite a few things he wants to do, a few mysteries he wants to unravel. Tugging on the hem of his hoodie, he walks into the living room and stares at the man sitting on the couch, reading a few papers which are lying messily on the table. There’s a plastic bag on it too and Izuku recognizes the blue color.
“Are those these week’s blood samples?”
The man nods, picking up a document from the table. “Got them today morning.”
Ah. That explains why he wasn’t there that morning when Izuku woke up. Himiko complained about it as they stared at the pre-made breakfast on the table.
“Breakfast is meant to be eaten together as a family,” she told him, pouting as she glared at the food, “Stupid Dabi.”
He didn’t know how to reassure her so he shrugged as response and told her to eat so she could regain her energy. She had been out on errands for him a lot in the past few days—he just couldn’t help it, though! Her quirk was perfectly made for this situation. She could turn into anyone as long as she has even the smallest amounts of their blood. It was incredibly well-suited for infiltration and they needed the information more than ever.
It was easier to send her off as someone unrecognizable most of the time, so they made sure to get blood samples from other cities. They had stolen them from the hospitals, which was morally wrong, but oh well, it’s not like they exactly follow the laws.
Rarely, though, would they send her to impersonate a big shot in the underground business. That could turn out bad really quickly, so the few times they had to resort to these methods they planned every bit of the process. Found countless loopholes, smashed everything that could go wrong, and created a hundred escape plans. It took them months, heck, one of them even years . So, it was usually better to deal with big shots differently. It wasn’t that big of a problem to Izuku, he could see beyond people’s stupid mistakes and find ways to take down organizations from the inside without putting Himiko unnecessarily into danger.
“She was a bit annoyed with your absence,” he tells the other as he sits down beside him. He can hear his joints and crack and he groans, a reminder that he’s been sitting in front of his laptop since he finished breakfast and cleaned the dishes.
“Seriously, Izu, you need to get out more,” Dabi replies with a sigh as he sorts the documents (unlike Izuku who would have left the mess, Dabi doesn’t like it unclean), “also Himiko’s going to be fine once we have her beloved family dinner.”
There’s no scoff in those words. Izuku knows there isn’t because, despite Dabi’s rather cold demeanor, the man loves them. That fact alone is obvious to Izuku, Dabi is the one who raises Himiko and him, he wouldn’t be here if he didn’t like them.
“I go out plenty,” he responds looking up at the wall.
“I meant during the day. When your body can take in the sunlight.”
Izuku narrows his eyes. “Ew, the sun.”
Dabi sighs again.
The boy smirks at the other. It’s fun letting out remarks like these once in a while. It makes him feel more like a kid. This is quite beneficial because then Dabi is satisfied (because to Dabi, Himiko and Izuku are children who shouldn’t have to do half the shit they do—but he gets it, he does).
They both startle upon hearing the door to the run-down apartment open. Himiko walks into the living room, a bright smile on her face and paper bags in her arms.
“I’m back from grocery shopping~”
She stops during her steps and stares at Dabi with wide eyes. “You’re back!”
Dabi points at the blue plastic bag on the table before he says, “Got you some blood.”
Himiko sets down the bags on the kitchen table and rushes to throw herself around Dabi. “Awe, thank you so much, you big softie!”
Izuku can see the disgruntled expression on the other’s face but Dabi makes no move to turn Himiko away. He can’t help his smile at the sight.
What a big softie.
“Izu! I bought a chocolate cake!”
“Seriously, I told you to only buy what we ne—”
“Buuut Dabi! You’re the one who eats the most of it!”
Tsukauchi Naomasa is tired.
It’s been months. There are even possibilities that it’s been years.
He’s been on this chase for quite a while now and he still hasn’t anything that would be a benefit to the investigation and impersonation of Musutafu’s current most infamous vigilante.
That’s what the man calls himself, having a habit of introducing himself when meeting them on a chase. Naomasa doesn’t know what to make out of it except that the vigilante speaks and politely addresses them and it’s confusing everyone. They had big shot villains before who preferred a clean way of speaking and addressed everyone with the correct honorifics because villains were just humans—their intentions tainted in violence and harm.
It’s just something about the way Conundrum speaks—with a quiet but firm voice, each word pronounced correctly and spoken out with intent—and all of that rubs them wrong. It could be the silent warmth behind them, that only irks Naomasa because he doesn’t know where it comes from and what its purpose is.
It could be the playful undertone the vigilante uses when while being chased.
Or, maybe, it’s because Conundrum’s words are a mix out of lies and truths and Naomasa can’t tell what is what anymore. The man speaks and the detective’s quirk would detect it as a lie. Then the man says something else—but still somewhat connected—and suddenly it’s the truth. Frankly, it’s giving him a headache.
That’s why he decides that it is time to ask for help. And he has just the perfect hero in his mind.
He hears knocking on the door.
The door opens and into his office walks one of the very few underground heroes that Naomasa knows are trustworthy.
“Good evening,” he greets the other.
“What’s the job?” Aizawa Shouta, better known as the pro underground hero; Eraserhead , asks him, not bothering to feign interest.
Naomasa sighs. That man is as uncommunicative as always. He shouldn’t have expected anything else from an insomniac teacher who works as a hero as well. He takes out the folder filled with every document regarding Conundrum—there isn’t much—and hands it to the tired man before him. Aizawa skims through the contents and raises an eyebrow, eyeing a document skeptical.
“And you don’t have any guesses as to his identity?”
“None,” the detective replies, feeling the familiar headache approaching, “there’s just no indication as to who he could be.”
The underground hero sighs but looks up, a more serious glance on his face.
“Alright, I’ll help out.”
Naomasa smiles in relief. He was worried that the other would reject the request.
Dabi hates hospitals.
He has plenty of valid reasons to hate them and he doesn’t think his hatred for them will ever cease. That’s fine because even that deep hatred doesn’t seem to stop him from breaking into one. It’s not much he needs. He won’t harm anyone and he definitely won’t stay for long.
And he finds the files he wants without problems, eyes glancing over the bold-printed letters which spell one beloved name.
Grabbing the files he needs, he leaves the hospital.
Dabi knows Izuku has been looking into Endeavor recently. He wonders if the boy had figured it out. Then again, it’s as clear as the day he could have with the intelligence that the boy owns.
He’ll have to confront him about it once the boy returns from his job.
Izuku doesn’t know how to react to his current predicament. It’s not every day that you get chased by the underground hero, Eraserhead. He kind of wants to stop and ask for an autograph but he doubts that would end well for him. Well, at least there’s one positive thing coming out of this race: he gets to add some notes to his analysis on Eraserhead! The hero is good at hiding himself, it's quite difficult to obtain any information on the man except for when you face him yourself.
He jumps over a few roofs and runs whilst hiding in the shadows but he knows that all won’t be enough to shake off the hero.
“Ah, won’t you just get tired, Eraserhead?”
The man doesn’t reply to his whining but Izuku didn’t expect anything else. He looks at the time on his phone and sighs. It seems like he has to end this before he’ll get back too late. He can only imagine what Himiko and Dabi would do if he doesn’t appear at the promised time.
He jumps one building over before coming to a stop.
“Eraserhead,” he calls out the man, “you see… I do quite admire you.”
The hero lashes out with his capture weapon but Izuku dodges by jumping to the side. He’s seen the other’s fighting style in a few (very rare) videos, had time to break it down and build it up. He smiles under his mask.
And then he jumps straight at the underground hero.
The man looks up, expression unbelieving.
Izuku knows the files on him probably note that he doesn’t engage in combat and well, he doesn’t. But he does like surprising people once in a while.
So, mid-air (and it took him so much practice and broken bones to learn this) he moves to the side and dodges the other’s weapon once again. Izuku has gathered all the information he needs so the third time the weapon is directed at him, he twists his arm and catches the weapon, letting himself by swung by it. If Eraserhead is confident he would draw the weapon together with Izuku back and probably kick him. But the hero doesn’t know how good Izuku is at combat, because there are no notes of him ever engaging, so he does the next best thing and tries to capture the vigilante by swinging the weapon directly at the ground. The impact is guaranteed to hurt but Izuku isn’t necessarily concerned with that little fact. He’s got another little problem.
His mask is coming off.
Dabi told him the way he wore it was as terrible as the way he wears ties, too insecure and wrong, but so far he has never had any problems (maybe because there wasn’t air pressure and a bit more movement than usually involved). Why exactly now?
He lets go of the weapon with his left hand and tries to hold his mask together. The hero is observant enough to see the movement and before Izuku knows it, the man drags the weapon back. He lands in the middle of the ground, letting go of the scarf as he scratches his knees on the pavement, biting his lips at the burning pain. Eraserhead throws the scarf at him once again but Izuku rolls out the way at the last second, unable to keep the mask up.
Aw, he sits up from the spot, a bit confused, what the hell is Eraserhead do—
He finally sees Eraserhead.
Whose mouth is slightly open and the hold on his scarf loose. The man’s surprised and Izuku blinks. He picks up his mask as he stands up and fixes his hoodie.
“Eraserhead?” he calls out after a few minutes of pure silence. It’s starting to spook him.
Izuku decides that it’s time to get home before Dabi is going to get mad and turns around to run away. A few seconds later he can hear the steps, but it’s too late because he jumps down the building without hesitation. What accompanies him down is the call of his vigilante name.
Izuku doesn’t understand why the voice sounds so painful. Did he hurt the hero somewhat? He didn’t even touch the man once though.
Naomasa doesn’t expect the loud noise of the office's door being opened harshly. He looks up into dark eyes filled with something akin agony. The hero steps in, placing both his hands onto the desk.
Aizawa Shouta looks furious.
“Did you know,” he starts, voice slow and beyond tired, “that Conundrum is a kid?”
He blinks as the cup he lets go off shatters on the ground.
Himiko jumps at him, throwing her arms around his neck when he walks into the living room. Her voice sounds full of excitement and Izuku can’t help but smile as he pats her back.
Her hair isn’t tied and she’s wearing her pajamas so he assumes that they must have been sleeping until he sees Dabi walk out to greet him - still wearing his uniform.
“Izuku,” he says and the vigilante knows he’s in trouble. Dabi never uses his full name except for when he’s mad at him. His eyes wander over to the clock and he bites his lip upon seeing the time.
He’s 15 minutes too late.
He gets it. Dabi is the eldest of the three. He’s 23 and responsible for two kids around nine years younger than him. Yes, most of the time it’s Izuku who plans the operations and jumps around for most of the day, hacking into this place and dealing with these people. It’s Himiko who disguises herself and engages with the enemy directly, sometimes leading to combat situations.
But Dabi is an adult. The only adult.
When he thinks something is too dangerous, he only has to say one word and they’ll call the whole thing off. He’s the one who makes sure they are well-fed, can sleep in a bed and own clothes rather than rags. He gets the money to support them through both legal and illegal ways. He’s the face of their group. He walks out into board light with them, playing the role of a caring older brother—no, he’s not even just playing it.
People look at him and see a big brother. No one cares about the burn marks stapled by nails because, in a world full of quirks, everything can be an explanation. No one cares about the torn clothes or tired eyes. Because he paths both Himiko’s and his head and smiles at them. That’s enough for people to nod their heads and think everything is okay. The neighbors pat his head and shoulders whilst they compliment him on being such a caring brother.
And that’s it—he cares.
Wakes up early in the morning to cook homemade breakfast instead of letting them do it themselves, patches up their wounds and even fixes their clothes for them. He trims their hair when it gets too long for them or styles it (Himiko sometimes proudly wears a pair of braids or a bun) and he gets them school-related books so they can study despite not attending any classes. He goes through it with them, explaining things when they ask and Izuku wonders where he went to school before (he has a guess). He gives them chores and a curfew—which he broke by 15 minutes—and comes to save their asses when they are in a tight spot because he won’t allow them to die.
So, Izuku gets it as he looks at the man staring him down.
“You’re not going out anytime soon.”
He nods, not even trying to disagree. Dabi sighs then, putting a hand on his head.
“Come on, sit down and tell me what happened.”
Izuku is right in predicting that Dabi won’t be too happy about his face reveal to the pro hero. But the man only shakes his head before telling Himiko and Izuku to go to bed.
Izuku has extra chores for the rest of the week.
Technically it’s Izuku’s turn to go grocery shopping but Dabi refuses to let the boy leave the apartment and Himiko understands his reasoning. So, instead, she does the shopping a second time, proudly displaying her currently long, black hair and bright, brown eyes. Misaki is so pretty! Himiko must admit she’s a bit jealous but not by that much. Dabi and Izuku tell her she looks fine the way she is a lot and she believes them.
She hums a song as she walks around the grocery store, looking around the shelves for the cornflakes she’s searching. Then she turns around, deciding they must be somewhere else, and bumps into another person.
“Ah, I’m so sorry,” she tells the boy in front of her.
He narrows his eyes at her as he stands up. Something about his gaze seems familiar to her but she can’t tell how. Maybe it’s the eye color.
Red eyes are quite rare.
“it’s fine,” he mutters, sounding annoyed, and leaves without saying another word. Himiko blinks.
Somehow she thinks that this won’t be the last time she’ll see him.
Continuing to hum the song from before, she starts searching for the cornflakes again. They taste nice, so she wouldn’t want to leave the store without them.
Izuku can’t help but stare at Dabi.
He’s sitting in the living room, his laptop perched on the top of his lap. Green eyes wander back to the screen and then again to the man sitting on the couch, reading some books.
“Is something wrong, Izu?”
He could keep his mouth shut or lie but Izuku doesn’t want to do that. Sighing, he closes his laptop—thus shutting off the bright image of Endeavor in his full hero costume—and moves closer to Dabi.
“Say,” he starts, gazing directly at the man, “are you Todoroki Touya?”
Dabi stops reading, closing his eyes for a moment. Then he opens them again as a smirk forms on his face.
“Sometimes it’s scary how observant you can be,” he tells Izuku, putting his book away.
Izuku grins at him. “It was more of a guess though. Wasn’t that sure yet.”
“Yet,” Dabi—Touya—repeats, rolling his eyes.
The younger vigilante shrugs in response, keeping the grin on his face.
“So, do you want to know how I ended up here?”
“Not necessarily? I mean if you want to tell me, sure, but like, uh… I guess you don’t have to? I’m fine with you being here!”
Dabi chuckles at the mess of words.
“Well, might as well tell you. Maybe you might be able to help me with this.”
The story that he gets told breaks a part of his heart and makes him wonder what exactly is going on with the hero society.
But he knows already.
And he knows how to start changing things.
“Congrats, Hitoshi! You’ve made it!”
Hizashi wraps his arms around the boy, grinning brightly. "The hero course, isn't that great?"
Shouta smiles at Hitoshi, an undeniable warmth in his eyes.
Hitoshi looks embarrassed but Hizashi knows he's happy, thrilled that everything he had wanted to achieve is now becoming reality. He's one step closer now.
As Hitoshi plays with the cats, he turns to face his husband.
"I'm so proud of him."
Shouta nods, but there's a frown on his face.
"The kid vigilant?"
"I wonder if he ever had any form of education."
Hizashi lays his hand on the other's shoulder and smiles at him.
"You'll find him, Shouta," he tells the other, drawing him into a side hug, "you will."
When Izuku tells Dabi that he’s going to go out and try to find information on a few things for his plans, he’s glad that Dabi lets him go out.
“It’s been two weeks. I think that was enough house arrest.”
It’s nice to walk around the streets once again even though it’s in the midst of the day. Well, it can’t be helped. He has to talk to people for this one—which is another big ew—so he needs to do this. He frowns at the amount of sunlight hitting him and turns away to face a nearby store. There’s a big shield with drawings of ice cream. Oh, it’s too late for him.
(Himiko likes the ones with rainbow sparkles, which are colorful and eye-catching. Dabi… he always eats the strawberry-vanilla ones but Izuku knows for a fact that the man likes chocolate and pistachio best.)
Five minutes later, he’s in the shop, staring at the variety of ice cream, licking his lips in anticipation. Mint chocolate, caramel, vanilla…. Everything seems so good! Forgetting his task, he fawns over the colorful food, almost not noticing two people approaching him.
“Everything looks so tasty, doesn’t it?”
He turns around at the voice and stares into a pair of sunglasses. A man with long, blond hair and a kid stand before him. Izuku can’t take his eyes off the purple crown of hair the kid wears. It’s bright and stands out.
“Uh, um, sure… does it? It does,” he mumbled, stumbling over his words like usual.
The man smiles at him and there’s a certain warmth in that action that wakes something in Izuku. He just can’t tell what it is.
“You know, you looked so lonely,” the man starts and Izuku blinks, unsure where this is going, “and Hitoshi here, couldn’t stand to see you alone.”
The man points at his child, who lifts his red face before averting his gaze.
"You just seemed like you wanted to talk with someone…"
And wow, do these words hit hard.
He smiles at them, although a bit shakily and nods his head.
“T-Thank you very much but, uhm, y-you didn’t have to?”
The man shakes his head, grinning brightly at him as he steps closer and then—then Izuku realizes just who that man is.
His eyes widen for a short moment before he settles his expression into a small smile, hoping that Present Mic wouldn’t have noticed his suspicious behavior. The excitement fills his cores, making him want to get his notebook and pen from his bag and ask the man all the questions lingering in his mind. But he can’t.
He looks to the side and stares at the boy with bright purple hair, wondering what his connection to Present Mic is. Considering the situation, Izuku likes to believe this boy is the hero’s son.
“No, but we wanted to.”
“Only if you don’t mind though.”
Izuku blinks before he shakes his head slowly.
“No, it’s fine.”
“Well, then! I’m Yamada Hizashi and this is my son Hitoshi.”
“Akatani Izuku,” he introduces himself. “Thank you for having me.”
At the end of the day, Izuku returns home with a new number on his phone and a new friend. He never thought he would get along so well with the others but he’s a bit glad. There aren’t many other people around his age that he knows. There was always only Himiko.
(And years ago a boy with red eyes.)
He’s going to meet Hitoshi again in two days and Izuku’s glad about that but…
… he worries too.
With all the things are going around and what he is about to do. It’s lingering on his mind, all the things that will change soon.
He just hopes that Hitoshi won’t get caught in the midst of it.
Or worse, that Present Mic will find out.
Himiko meets the boy with striking eyes once again in a park.
She almost calls out to him, a smile forming on her face but then Himiko notices the bouquets in his hands. There’s a graveyard near here, her mind supplies. Quietly, without dragging attention to herself she follows him, curiosity eating at her. She knows those are bad manners and Dabi would scold her for it but she can’t help it (also Dabi would do the same thing if he decided he’s interested).
Around one hour passes before he leaves and she walks up to the graves, her eyes widening once she reads the names.
It’s when he’s hanging out with Hitoshi in the mall, that he gets a text from Touya.
Visiting my mother.
He bits his lips in worry. If this visit carries results that aren’t fitting then the whole plan…
“Hey, my father invited you to dinner. Wanna come?”
Izuku nods with a big grin. He’s glad to get to spend any time with Hitoshi he can.
It’s then that it comes to his mind.
Present Mic is a radio host .
He takes his phone out and nods at his friend.
“I’ll have to write to my brother first.”
Touya, I’ve got an idea…
It’s been so many years but his mother is still so stunning.
He sits down on the chair without a word and stares at her, wondering if she’ll still recognize him despite the whole burn marks. And without fail a small smile forms on her face as her eyes brighten up.
“... Touya? Is that you?”
Weeks pass in silence as Izuku slowly befriends Hitoshi and Hizashi.
“My…. my other dad would like to meet you.”
He can feel the hesitance coming from the other and he hates it. There’s nothing Hitoshi should fear, not one part.
Not even Conundrum.
“I’d love to, Hitoshi.”
They spend the rest of the day planning the dinner.
“On Friday then,” Hitoshi mutters, a grin on his face.
“On Friday,” Izuku agrees.
“You know,” Himiko mutters, staring right at him, “Dabi’s absent a lot nowadays.”
She knows something is going on and Izuku sees no reason not to tell her.
“He’s visiting his Dad.”
She blinks. “He has a dad?”
Then she hums an unknown song for a bit and Izuku thinks it sounds nice.
“Do you have one?” she asks, twisting her body to face him from the couch. “A dad, that is.”
He thinks hard about it even though he already has the answer.
It’s a lonesome word.
“But I don’t need one.”
Himiko continues to stare at him before she looks away.
Recently Eraserhead has been on the chase for him more than anyone else. Izuku would miss all the other heroes and police officers but he likes Eraserhead. The man’s quick and good at his job.
Though he’s been getting more desperate to catch him for an unknown reason, Izuku can tell that just by observing the man. His movements are harsher than usual and not as graceful as they should be. It’s throwing Izuku off. He cannot tell why the other is desperate to catch him. As far as he knows, he’s never been a big top priority. He wonders if he should try to use his quirk on the other man. Due to Izuku’s quirkless way of fighting the man hasn’t bothered to use his quirk all the time.
Then again, the man would probably be able to conclude if Izuku would try to use his quirk. Seems like it would be impossible. But it wouldn’t hurt to try.
“You know,” he calls out, still running away and jumping from building to building, “there’s this hero.”
Eraserhead shows no signs of listening.
“He’s been stalking a few girls recently.”
Izuku can see the man move his arm. Bingo.
“It’s been going on for so many weeks… why hasn’t anyone noticed it yet?”
There are a few rules that Izuku has to respect when he uses his quirk, ‘Hoax’.
The basic gist is that Izuku can make people believe any truth or lie he utters. He can also change truths into lies and the opposite. Both ways will end up affecting reality. He’s still not sure if it affects reality globally or his hoax has a range but so far he could confirm that it has touched two whole cities. And even then, he still has to fulfill a few conditions to make it work.
- He must at least manage to convince one person to believe his truth or lie. Once they do, Hoax will turn the deceit into reality.
- Whilst smaller lies and truths tend to go unnoticed all the time and therefore never really break, people can damage bigger deceit by finding a conflicting opinion.
To explain point 2: Imagine you're a student. Now, Izuku uses Hoax on all your classmates, probably even your whole school, to make them believe you aren’t a student of said school. If you manage to convince anyone—a classmate, a teacher, the janitor—of said school that you are a student, you win and the hoax breaks. The thing, though, is that Izuku’s quirk affects reality which means that any documents (like your student id or your school’s files of you) will vanish or be altered to suit his wanted Hoax. In other words, all you have on your side is your words.
And well, if Izuku decided to use the Hoax on you as well… what then?
In other words, this quirk is dangerous.
But it’s also a word-game.
- The Hoax works based on Izuku’s words so he cannot mutter things that are badly worded or not detailed enough—that will only mess up reality in a way Izuku can’t track and he has to be able to track his truths and lies.
- Hoax does, in the end, rely on belief. Izuku has to be a convincing actor therefore he shouldn’t use it carelessly or rely on it.
And that’s exactly what he is after beating all his stupid habits out of him through merciless practice.
“Eraserhead… it makes me so angry.”
The hero pauses for a moment, shivering at the dark tone Izuku uses.
“Should you be chasing me? What if he’s using his fame to get away with it!”
He’s not talking about the small hero anymore. No, this is about another hero.
But Eraserhead, who slows down as desperation leaves him, does not know that.
Izuku uses that moment to activate Hoax.
“You look so tired. Aren’t you?”
The hero tenses.
“You should be tired.”
The man narrows his eyes.
“And I know you are.”
“So, shouldn’t you be sleeping? Go to sleep.”
And of course, Eraserhead wants to sleep. So Hoax twists the truths around and affects reality.
The man’s sleeping.
Just as Izuku turns around wanting to leave, something wraps around his wrist and he’s dragged back.
“Don’t you think it’s been too long, since he went out?”
Himiko stops reading her book and looks up at Dabi.
“I can go get him if you want?”
She nods, closing her book and standing up. There’s a grin on her face.
“Don’t worry, Izu is going to be fine!”
“What did you just before?”
He bites his lips, refusing to speak.
Eraserhead is awake.
Why is he awake?
“Don’t you wanna sleep?” He asks, trying to see if it works.
“Yes, sleep would be better than this, brat.”
“But I need to make sure that I catch you first. And that you tell me who that damn hero is!”
“There are too many to name them all at once.”
Eraserhead stops for a moment and Izuku turns to cut the scarf but—
—a knife comes flying out of nowhere, directed at Eraserhead who lets go of Izuku to jump away.
“Hero~ Let’s have fun~”
Dabi waits for half an hour more before the door to the apartment opens and Himiko and Izuku walk in. They are covered in some scratches but Himiko is grinning and Izuku also looks ok.
Dabi raises an eye.
“Hoax failed,” the boy replies, a pout forming on his face. “Eraserhead’s too much of a hero to let it work.”
Himiko giggles at that. “I like him! He’s fun!”
Dabi just shakes his head with a sigh and then smiles at them. “Go clean up, I made dinner.”
Time passes quickly and Izuku is, of course, not allowed to leave for any missions. He doesn’t mind and instead spends that time researching the Todoroki family or playing some games with Himiko (she beats him in all except the trivia-based ones as is destiny).
Then Friday arrives.
And Izuku feels worried.
God, what if Hitoshi’s other father doesn’t like him? Hitoshi is his only friend not caught up in all this bullshit. He wouldn’t want to lose him.
“Come on, Izu! I told you that I’d drive you.”
He takes his bag and leaves the house, bidding goodbye to Himiko.
What he doesn’t expect is to see Eraserhead.
The man stares back at him with wide eyes before masking his expression.
“That’s Akatani Izuku, Dad.”
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
“N-Nice to meet you?”
Hitoshi’s father narrows his eyes.
“Yeah, nice to meet you too.”
Eraserhead is good at pretending that he’s never seen Izuku before which leads to Hizashi inviting him to more dinners.
Izuku nods, knowing very well that avoiding them won’t work out now.
“Let me drive you home,” Aizawa tells him, taking his jacket out.
“Ah, no, it’s ok—”
“It’s dark outside, Izuku-kun!” Hizashi reminds him. “Let Shouta drive you home.”
Touya, Eraserdhead’s driving me home.
Brat answer me
Aizawa Shouta surely didn’t expect after finding Conundrum under the name Akatani Izuku but he would see that as luck. So, as they drove to the address Izuku offered him, he speaks up, never taking his eyes off the road.
“So… you are Conundrum?”
“Well, do you believe so?”
Aizawa replies with another question.
“How does your quirk work?”
“Ah, quite well if I must say. It’s fun to use.”
He narrows his eyes. “That wasn’t my question.”
“You didn’t answer mine,” the kid replies.
For a moment, Shouta lets a smirk out. But then his mouth turns into a frown.
“Kid, I’m trying to help you here. What you are do-”
He hears a clicking sound from behind and—
—there’s a loud crash as Izuku flies onto the ground. Shouta immediately tries to stop the car but it’s too late because the vigilante is already running away.
He doesn’t miss the red spots on the ground though.
“He must have scraped his arms or something.”
With a sigh, he takes out his phone.
At least they have some hints now.
“You’re one big moron!”
“I know, I know!”
Dabi drops his forehead into his hand for a moment before sighing.
“... We will start the thing tomorrow.”
Izuku blinks. “T-Tomorrow?”
The other nods his head, sitting down beside him. “I got the evidence and I have visited Mom a few times. It should be okay.” Then he turns to look at Izuku. “If we wait any longer you’re going to get seriously hurt at some point.”
“I have informed Himiko already. She will bring the documents to the police tomorrow… I wanted you to give a few copies to Present Mic but…”
“I can still do it.”
He looks down at his phone, trying to ignore the incoming messages.
“It will be okay… they… they won’t do anything to me.”
“Are you 100% sure?”
“Then I’ll go with you.”
“No complaining or neither of us is going.”
Izuku scoffs but nods in agreement. He has no choice in the matter anymore.
“Now, now! You both look so sad!” Himiko comes into the living room holding a plate with chocolate cake. “Look what I got here!”
Dabi raises an eyebrow. “Seriously?”
“Definitely! You love the cake the most so don’t complain!”
As the other two argue with each other, Izuku stares at his phone and all unread
messages from Hitoshi.
Damnit, answer me Izuku!
He watches the dots and waits for the other’s reply.
Dad told me about you. About Conundrum. Is it true?
Nothing is true to Izuku just as nothing is false.
If I tell you about my quirk, allowing you to share the information with your fathers, will you do me a favor?
Or to be more precise, will Present Mic do me a favor?
So what’s your answer?
It’s Friday when Himiko walks to the police disguised as someone else. She doesn’t expect to see Aizawa Shouta there but she does not care much about him at the moment. When she’s done waiting, she drops a few files onto the desk and frowns before walking off, ignoring their shouts.
She’s got a free day now and the moment she sees the red-eyed boy from before she knows what she’ll do.
Present Mic stares at him with a frown.
“Yeah,” he answers, sighing, “believe me, I’m not proud of that one.”
The hero stares a few more minutes at him before stepping aside and letting him in. He smiles at Izuku.
“Hitoshi was worried.”
Izuku blinks. “Uh, he might… be more worried after my favor?”
The man raises an eyebrow.
“Alright, see, my request is…”
Currently, in Japan, a huge uproar is growing throughout the country after having found out that Endeavor is being arrested.
“Can you believe it? The number 2 hero out of all people…”
“Luckily though the mother of the siblings will be able to finally get out of the…”
As they listen to Hizashi’s radio show, Hitoshi sighs.
“Will you tell me why Conundrum exists?”
“My dad used to be a hero… and he killed my mom.”
To this day, Izuku can still remember the scolding flames and screaming throughout the building. He wasn’t there at the time. But he also never returned after that. The investigation must have seen the ashes of the stray kitten he had taken in a few days ago and concluded that it was him.
“He turned himself in because he knew it was wrong. He was drunk and mad at something that happened at work.”
He’s an asshole but he’s in a sense nothing like Endeavor and Izuku can appreciate that.
“I dug up some more cases where heroes did shit like that and well… They got away with it most of the time,” he explains, sighing, “My father’s actions are terrible and unforgivable… but he had a moral compass somewhere. So he knew what was wrong and what wasn’t. And he listened to it.”
Then he tilts his head to look at Hitoshi.
“A lot of people don’t listen to it, I… I think you know that, Hitoshi.”
The files they got were signed with Conundrum’s name.
“He’s at my house currently,” Aizawa tells Naomasa when they are finally alone, still in shock over the information about Endeavor.
“What are you planning to do?”
“After this… do you think he deserves a harsh punishment?”
The detective shakes his head and both stare at the papers on the table with frowns on their faces.
“There should be a way to get him out.”
After a few minutes pass, Naosama speaks up, “The public doesn’t know a lot about him, especially not his identity. And well, for the government…. What if a trustworthy hero took him in?”
“Are you implying—”
“Yes, Aizawa-san, you should take him in.”
A few weeks pass and so do things.
Izuku spent a good few days in prison as the detective that was responsible for Conundrum sorted out his files.
“Aizawa-san agreed to take you in,” the man replies before turning to face the kid, “with that, we mean adoption.”
He blinks, eyes wide in surprise. “What?”
Naomasa smiles at him. “I don’t think you’re fundamentally a bad person and almost no one knows that you’re Conundrum.” Then his smile drops. “But some of the higher-ups do, so we have to reassure their worries somewhat. Since most of the things you did as Conundrum barely went against the law or benefited us… I think we can give you this chance.”
“Although you will have to give up your identity as Conundrum of course.”
He bits his lower lip and looks down for a moment before lifting his head and nodding. Naomasa raises an eyebrow.
“I thought you would be more stubborn.”
“Having Hitoshi as brother wins me over.”
Then the kid smirks. “Also I get to annoy Eraserhead every day.”
The detective can only pray for the underground hero.
What Izuku, of course, doesn’t mention is that he had accomplices in the whole thing.
Himiko and Dabi who have started a new mission with his arrest.
He gets out of the car and is met with Hitoshi running full speed at him.
Before he knows it, both of them are on the ground, groaning.
The other grins at him.
“Of course, brother .”
He rolls his eyes but smiles at him.
“Welcome to the family, problem child.”
He looks up at Aizawa and Hizashi who’s grinning at him. Hitoshi helps him up and both stand up.
“See you another time, Izuku-kun.”
He waves as the detective's car drives off and then turns to face his new family. Hitoshi is already lifting his bag with a huff and Aizawa lays a hand on his shoulder leading him in.
He knows things aren’t resolved yet.
He knows there’s other stuff ahead of him.
He knows he’ll never fully shed the name Conundrum of him.
But for now, these things don’t matter.
After all, deceit is nothing but the conundrum of human nature.