Elysha gasped and withdrew, pulling her shoulders in and away.
Jackson cursed, the delicate fabric of his dreams unravelling in the wind of his guilt.
"I was running late." Jackson said, trying to calm the bass-drum of his heart. "I ran, like, six blocks to get here. Cook St was crowded. I ran into someone." He lifted a hand to his mouth, prodded gently at his cheek. It was a pre-molar. A loss--any tooth was a loss--but this wasn't a crisis. "Big guy. Corporate. I didn't want to stay around..."
Elysha had her arms wrapped around herself and she stared at the pearlescent bone. "Just... pick it up." she said in a tiny voice, her own perfect teeth barely visible in the shadows.
Jackson nodded and scooped the tooth into his pocket in one fluid motion. "So..." he said awkwardly. "Do you still want to go through with this?" The question had so many layers.
She relaxed once the tooth was out of sight. "We must finish what we have begun." she said, her voice almost imperious. She'd laced it with the slight Mandarin accent, and Jackson felt himself stiffen. She'd always had that effect on him. When she let her heritage show through the careful veneer of "western culture", she transcended her own artifice. He'd swear she almsot glowwed.
"Your family will honor you for this." Jackson said, and for a moment, the eerie glint in Elysha's eyes returned... He was caught in a current of something bigger than he was.
But his gums were sore, and the blood he swallowed tasted bitter.
Elysha nodded, mutely, then walked ahead, her hips swaying gently in the conservative suit she wore. She had long straight hair, and a slim, lithe, figure. She had the classical Han beauty but sapphire green eyes that lit up with the subrise and sunset.
Elysha led him to an faded stone grave-marker. The writing on the stone had long since eroded, but the engraved symbol of her house remained. She stood for a moment, head bowwed in prayer. Then she nodded once and motioned for Jackson to do his thing.
Jackson pulled the package out again, wrinkling his nose at the sulfure smell. "You understand that I am obligated to tell you that what we are doing--together--is illegal. If we are caught, they will assume we're after his teeth."
Elysha frowned. "We won't get caught. I've got the best in the business." She gave him one of her rare smiles, and Jackson felt the warmth flood into him. "I always get the best."
"Okay. Keep a look out, will you?" His mind was already in the game, his consciousness slipping across the veil. He had to maintain a level heartbeat and a clear mind to find the precise location... The sulfure would seep through the ground and carry it's payload to the coffin, evoking the spirit within.
After a moment, Jackson nodded. He dug a small furrow down the center of the grave-line. Then, with infinite care, he poured the contents of the bag into the furrow.
After a moment, he stood up and dusted his hands off on his pants.
"That's it?" Elysha asked, confused.
"That's it." Jackson said, a tad too plesed with himself. "You still have his pendant?"
Elysha undid the top two buttons on her crisp white blouse, and withdrew a delicate silver chain.
Jackson grunted, nodding. "Your grandfather should be active by nightfall."
"That was easier than I thought..." Elysha said.
"No." Jackson said, closing the distance between them. "It wasn't. It's never easy. The hard part is yet to come."