After Alan has one of Jamie's marks transferred to his own skin, Nick is—you guessed it—angry.
Nick goes running off into the woods where, a few moments later, Mae catches up to him.
Mae is pretty full of the fever fruit and the dance and the market and… a whole lotta lust.
She grabs Nick and tries to kiss him, but Nick pushes her away—partially because he knows Alan likes her, and partially because he knows Mae is under the influence of some powerful juju after consuming fever fruit for the first time.
He leaves her and wanders alone for a bit. By the time he goes back to the market, Mae is cozied up with Alan, who also refuses to take advantage of her. Those Ryves brothers are regular sweethearts. More or less, anyway.
Nick and Alan drive Mae and Jamie home, and Nick tries to pick a fight with Alan, but Alan says he won't talk to him while he still has fever fruit in his system.
They drive in silence. Alan's behind the wheel and Nick knows his leg is getting sore, but he refuses to relieve him. He's angry that Alan took on one of Jamie's marks instead of getting his own removed.
Alan's obviously in pain, but he won't ask Nick to drive anymore than Nick will offer, which leads Nick to think the difference between them is that Alan's a suicidal fool who'll sacrifice himself for anyone and Nick's a jerk.
When they finally arrive home, Alan says he thinks Merris does experiments at her house that could help them deal with Black Arthur, if they could just find an excuse to get into her house. Apparently it's pretty secretive and well guarded.
Nick says what they need to do is kill a magician. According to the demon Anzu, this is the only way to get rid of a second tier mark: kill a magician and use his blood to wipe away the marks.
Alan thinks it's a possibility, but Nick thinks it's unlikely. They've killed magicians who have come for them, but they've never deliberately sought one out, and magicians tended to live in groups that were tough to penetrate.
Nick blows up at Alan for taking on Jamie's mark and insinuates that—once again—Alan was trying to impress Mae.
He slams his car door and runs off, eventually showing up at the garage where he's been working and slaving away on cars until evening.
When he finally sees Alan again at breakfast the next morning, they patch things up.
Nick leaves for school, but goes instead to an abandoned lot where he creates another dancer's circle and summons a second demon—one named Liannan that he's spoken to before—in an attempt to get some information that will help his brother.
Liannan comes when summoned and agrees to answer Nick's first question if he'll remove his talisman. He does it and then asks her where to find the group of magicians that the demon Anzu mentioned, the Obsidian Circle. Liannan tells him two things: first, that the Obsidian Circle is the group responsible for the death of Daniel Ryves, and second that they are in Exeter, but that they're leaving.
Nick asks her what her price is to answer another question—where the Obsidian Circle is going—and she tells him she'll do it if he'll give her a moment of warmth.
Fine. Nick remembers a time, just after his father died, when Alan used to cry himself to sleep every night.
(For a moment he worries that he won't be able to dredge up any warmth and worries that Liannan will be able to possess him because he can't hold up his end of the bargain. But then he remembers Alan limping into his room, crawling into bed with him, and saying, "You're mine. And I'm going to take care of you" (6.157).)
Liannan feels the warmth and tells Nick he doesn't need to go looking for the Obsidian Circle… They're coming for him.
Nick goes home to find that Mae and Jamie have arrived. Nick snarls (truly) and Alan tries to calm him down by explaining that it makes sense—they need to be there when the magicians are killed so Jamie can be healed.
Nick huffs and puffs and tells them what he's learned—that the Obsidian Circle is coming after them. Alan says that should make it easy to find a couple of magicians, and Nick is stunned by his reaction. It sounds to him like Alan is playing right into Black Arthur's hands.
Alan insists he has a plan but won't tell anyone what it is, and Nick resents his secrecy.
Alan asks Nick to trust him and just do what he asks him to do, and Nick reluctantly agrees. What other choice does he have? But he can't help thinking of the girl in the picture and getting upset at the fact that his brother is keeping still more secrets from him.