By the end of her shift at the bar, Marcella is heartsick at how many patrons she’s seen who look like they’re under the influence of Leon and Christian’s drinks. She gets as many of their names as she can, but she has to clench her fists and stop herself from running after each couple or group that entered alone and leaves with newfound companions. She knows she’s doing what she can to help them right now, but it still hurts. Changelings should know better than anyone what a violation this is. She’s going to bring these bastards down.
She doesn’t get the chance to do much snooping while closing the bar, but hopefully what they’ve found so far will stand without it. She’s exhausted when she gets back to the freehold, but there’s motley business to take care of before she can sleep. Only once she’s gotten a space for them to use and made sure everyone knows when to be there does she rest. She wonders as she sets her dagger beside the bed and pulls off her shoes whether it was the mission or something else that upset Zia tonight. She figures that if Zia wants to talk about it, she’ll track Marcella down soon enough. If she doesn’t, it’s none of Marcella’s business. She doesn’t have space to fix everyone else’s individual problems, not when she barely has a handle on how to protect the group. At least, that’s what she keeps telling herself. It takes a long time for her to fall asleep.
Seeing Fianna’s simple joy about the Games list brings a smile to Marcella’s face. Chatting about what events they’ll compete in is almost enough to make Marcella forget the small flutter in her stomach whenever she thinks about the Arena, its roaring, faceless crowds, and its living statues. She has to do this, she reminds herself. This is the best way she can come up with to keep her motley and her comrades-in-arms safe.
Marcella continues to be impressed by Hank’s thoughtfulness, observational skills, and preparation for their meetings. She wonders about the shopping bags, but figures he’ll let them know what’s in them if it’s important. She also notes that he’s the first one to volunteer information when the silence starts stretching out after she asks for someone to start. She really has to stop doing that and start just picking teams to report out. Marcella is sure she has never been as reluctant to make a report as this group, even back when she was a prawn.
The reports from her team, when they do come, make her more concerned than ever about The Iron Nail. With more information about the restaurant, it seems as though they can’t dismiss Nandakumar and his kitchen as harmless after all. She hopes this won’t cause trouble with Byron, but it can’t be helped. People are getting hurt by supernatural influences in their lives they don’t understand, and it has to stop.