Chapter 29:


Midnight King

Honey throws a kick at the punching bag, enough to make it swing to the side along with the momentum and the chain rattles with the motion. She kicks it again. And again. And again until rocks so violently back and forth, some other people in the gym look over to see who was making all that noise.

Like she’d stop for some of their useless judgemental glares, Honey scowls right back. Her foot connects with the bag again and the whole thing creaks from the blow.

Her shoulder still aches. Right where she’d been impaled with Vogue’s red stiletto and when she moves, the scab irritates her raw skin.

And the scars from her fight with the Drunken Serpent haven’t completely healed, her back still mottled with dark spots from where the glass had broken skin.

Luckily her face somehow remained untouched.

All except for the burn under her bangs.

Honey foot collides with the punching bag again and this time her mother catches it before it flies off its post.

“Wow, what did this guy ever do to you?” Her mom laughs as Honey finds her footing and looks away. She can’t meet her parents in the eyes these days. All she can see is Misha’s disappointment. They don't need to know how red, how ugly, her hands have become. 

Not even her pretty pink manicure covers up the bloodstains. 

They don't know about all these things because she refuses to tell them. After Ben the Boulder, Honey makes sure to wear long sleeves and apply her makeup on thick. 

Disgust. That’s all she thinks they’ll see in her.

But what does it matter? Honey has what she wants within a tangible distance. Her popularity. Her revenge.

It’s all she needs.

So nothing else matters. It shouldn’t.

“Are you hunnie.bunnie143?” Some wimpy-looking boy taps her on the shoulder and holds up her Sinstagram on his phone like he’s trying to prove her own identity to her.

Honey knows who she is, she doesn’t need some weird freak to tell her that.

Her mother raises an eyebrow at the ordeal. The boy doesn't see her, Honey's mother was so massive she sort of blends in with all the gym equipment. That and her outfit blends in with the patterned wall. And not in a good way.

“Could I get a picture? My friends and I are big fans of yours, we went to your last fi-”

“Give me your phone.” Honey cuts him off. 

Her mother can't know. She doesn't need to know what kind of popular Honey had chosen. It's to regain her worth, to get back her pride, to extinguish the burning sensation she feels every time something reminds her of Vainglory. Or of Charlotte. 

The picture she takes for him is blurry, but she won’t take another for a scrawny peasant like this dolt. It was to shut him up. It's not like taking a better photo would help her any, but she does remind him to share her Sinstagram when he scurries away.

“Well, aren't you popular Miss Honey Bun, you’re almost like a celebrity!”

Honey scoffs.

“They’re all just idiots.”

Her mother snorts through her nose and it sounds like a bull with bad allergies. She does resemble more of a bull than a human as a matter of fact and Honey has always admired her mother's stubbornness and strength. 

Immovable and bold. Shining just about as radiant as the sun. 

The mother that doted on her daughter a bit too much, one that has never seen the bad side of Honey, one that loved Honey so much she didn't think Honey had a bad side. 

How Honey would destroy her grand expectations. 

Her stomach twists. 

“Well, how about that couple you used to hang out with? The red head and the one with the hair clips?”

Honey kicks the bag again and it rattles again.

“How do you know about them?”

“Honey, love, I’m your mother I follow you on Sinstagram, those are the only friends you’ve posted on there for a long time.”

It was one picture. 

One picture at the library when Misha had returned with their coffee and Honey had been trying to get a picture of just the drinks, but they managed to invade her perfect photo. She posted it anyway.

It would tarnish her reputation to have such losers on her Sinstagram and Honey considered deleting it. But she couldn't. 

She hovered over the button for a long time, but she couldn’t bring her thumb to press it.

She doesn’t care about them. She doesn’t care. The more she says it, the more it makes her feel annoyed.

And all Honey can say back is, “They’re not a couple yet.”

She wants to rip out her own throat as it closes around those words. She channels that hatred into her next kick and the rattling resonates throughout the gym. 

A strange lull takes over the noise of patrons exercising.

Honey can only hear the creak of her grinding teeth. 

Her mother takes a seat on the bench beside her and she’s large enough to occupy the entire seat space with just her broad shoulders. Both her parents have a way of getting silent before they’re about to lecture her or ask her to open up to them.

She knows them all too well.

“Alright love, what’s wrong. Tell me honestly, because the past few weeks you’ve been in some sort of mood, and both your parents are worried about you.”

Honey glares at the punching bag. Tell them? How could she? And where would she even start? That she entered some illegal fighting club for the sake of something that happened in her previous school? And she hasn’t even told them about Vainglory and everything that happened there.

She couldn’t. But it’s eating her alive and although her beloved follower count goes up, she feels no less satisfied. Her mood only gets more and more sour. 

The acid in her stomach climbs up her throat and the taste is awful. 

Maybe she should tell them.

This ugly feeling festering inside her was no different than Vainglory. She feels the same. 

And that’s probably where she’d start.

But Honey doesn’t get a single word out, her phone pings with a new message from Sinstagram. Whatever she had meant to tell her mother stays stuck in her mouth, right on the tip of her tongue and when she swallows, the words are gone. 

Her mom just watches wearily as Honey checks her phone. 

Honey's heart stops. 

It feels like someone ripped out the stitches of a fresh wound, tearing flesh, exposing bone and muscles and tendons, bleeding out from a gash too big to close on its own. 

Turning everything such a vivid red, the color burns everything in its wake. 

She doesn’t know who she was expecting.

But it wasn’t this.

“Everything okay, love?” Her mother asks, still waiting for Honey to open up, still waiting for Honey to tell her the truth.

But Honey's already made her decision. She made it a long time ago when she felt the sting of a cigarette against the skin of her forehead, sealing her choice with a scar. 

There was no going back from here. 

“Just fine.” Honey says through her teeth.

She kicks the punching bag again and this time it does come off its hinges and hits the opposite wall. 

The slam shakes the establishment. 

A rumble thunders in Honey's chest. 

If she would be fighting The Queen soon, she’d have to be ready.




Misha recognizes Joshua’s choppy short brown hair the moment he sees it.

In three huge strides, he crosses the street and takes a fistful of Joshua’s uniform shirt in his hands and Joshua’s so short Misha has to lean over him to look him in the eyes properly.

And it’s the same as when they saw him at Honey’s first Midnight Fight. Ridden with guilt. Full of shame although this boy was the so-called infamous Midnight King that toppled hundreds of students just to earn some measly title and a painted crown.

Elias is telling Misha to stop, but he wants to hear it from Joshua first.

“Why are you still King?”

Joshua doesn’t even make an attempt to release himself from Misha’s grip. He’s standing on the tips of his toes and holding onto Misha’s arms in order to keep from leaving the ground immediately.

But Misha knows Joshua is perfectly capable of freeing himself. He almost wants Joshua to fight back, to attack him mercilessly so that Misha doesn’t haven’t to feel so terrible when Joshua takes the punishment without resisting.

“Misha, please listen to him first!” Elias begs.

“Why? So he can lie to us again? Eli, how can you still trust him?”

Joshua skillfully twists out of Misha’s hands, however, he doesn’t move very far and he’s still within range for Misha to grab him again. As if he’s expecting Misha to grab him again.

He smooths out the pleats of his skirt, making a face as he does so.

“You don’t understand what being King meant to me.”

Those words kept repeating themselves.

First it was what Charlotte had done to Honey. Then it was what the Midnight Fights had done to himself. Now it was for Joshua to use the phrase as if it would suffice for an explanation.

Joshua had been there. He had seen everything that Misha and Elias had been through and thought he could enjoy his fifteen minutes of fame knowing what had happened.

No. It wasn’t fair. 

Joshua didn’t get to act charitable when he wanted to, deciding when the two of them would finally be worth his time. He had two years to relinquish his crown, two years to end The Midnight Fights altogether, yet he hadn’t.

And how could Misha even argue?

What had he done in the past two years? Blissfully continued to live like this awful stain of a fight club didn't exist, believing that if he just ignored it, it would go away. 

Even if it meant turning a blind eye to the kids that get beat up on Royale Street. To the police that did nothing about it. To the fact that he let Honey join although he knew, Misha knew, what it would do to her. 

If Misha was being honest with himself, he was just as guilty as Joshua. 

Everything. Everything is always his fault. 

Elias holds up a hand to Misha’s face, effectively telling him to stop and listen before he makes any irrational decisions or does anything he might regret.

“I’m sorry.” And Joshua says it with so much sincerity Misha clamps his mouth shut.

“I’m sorry Misha and I’m sorry Elias, but I was and still am too much of a coward to stop The Midnight Fights on my own.”

A coward. 

How could Joshua be a coward when he looks directly at the both of them without a shred of fear? Despite how much pain it brings him, how much he has to grit his teeth through the apology and how much shame is painted on his face, Joshua doesn't look away. 

A coward. Joshua is anything, but a coward. 

Joshua could confront his past head on.

Why couldn’t Misha do the same?

Misha feels his anger subside, but it leaves an ache right between his eyes. Right on the bridge of his nose and he has to look away from Joshua to make it go away. No matter how much he tries, he can’t find the same resentment from two years ago.

It’s now nothing but a dull pain.

“I couldn’t keep my end of the promise back then, but,” Joshua takes a deep breath and for an innocently round face, he still looks like a King. Authoritative and certain in the words he says next, “I’ll do what I can to keep it now.”

Now was almost too late. Now was years later. Now was dragging Honey into a nightmare she might not wake up from. Now was his fault.

Misha keeps his eyes on the pavement. At some point during all this Elias had taken hold of his hand and squeezed it tightly.

He resigns.

If they could finally be rid of The Midnight Fights, Misha will cooperate. For Honey’s sake. And for his.

“And what exactly do you plan to do?”

Underneath all his remorse, Joshua digs up the look that probably crowned him King. Before Joshua claimed his name, when they used to be friends allied against a common goal, he could never muster the same expression. This face that now held so much conviction makes Misha take a step back.


When he speaks, his voice is resolute.

“We’ll destroy the place where it all started," Joshua points to the daunting building at the end of Royale Street, "The warehouse.”