There was a time, not all that long ago, when Jim Ellison had scoffed at the idea of miracles. The fact that he alone had survived a chopper crash in the jungles of Peru, and would no doubt have still perished before he could be rescued had it not been for the Chopec people who had rescued him and nursed him back to health was nothing more than good luck as far as he was concerned. That their shaman, Incacha, had recognized Jim’s sensory gifts and helped him to hone them was nothing more than good fortune for both Jim and the tribe as Jim then became their scout and sentinel protector.
No miracles there.
Then Blair Sandburg had come along, professing to know just how to help Jim with his steadily spiralling out of control senses, and despite Jim’s initial skepticism, damned if the kid hadn’t proven from the get-go that he really did have a clue, and when he didn’t, he’d just think outside the box and come up with a workable solution.
Still, no miracles there either. Just two guys who happened to be in the right place at the right time and had a little quid pro quo happening.
Then Incacha had come to Cascade. Jim’s heightened senses were gone, subsumed, Blair believed, by guilt after Jim had almost shot a security guard during a heist. Incacha, it seemed, agreed with Blair.
“A sentinel will always be a sentinel, if he chooses to be,” he told a disbelieving Jim.
Then Incacha had been murdered, but before dying, he had passed the way of the shaman onto Blair. The doubt on Blair’s face that he was worthy of inheriting such a legacy was as tragic as Jim’s grief-stricken expression over the loss of his first guide. Then Blair had forced Jim to go with him up onto the roof of the apartment building, had bullied him pretty much into accepting who he was once more, and Jim could see the determination on Blair’s face, an expression that said plainly, “If I have to accept this gift as your shaman, then you are damn well going to live up to your end of the bargain.”
As Jim listened to the sounds that only a sentinel could hear that day, he began to think that maybe miracles sometimes did happen.
Then Blair had died at the fountain and been brought back to life with the guidance of the long-dead Incacha and the power of their animal spirits, and Jim realized that he’d been experiencing miracles all his life, just refusing to see them as such.
“Jim? You okay, man?”
Blair’s voice pulled him from his reverie.
“I’m fine,” he said.
“You looked like you’d zoned,” Blair added.
“You sure? What were you so fixated on?” Blair asked. “You’ve been standing there for five minutes, not saying a word.”
“You,” Jim replied with a smile, and silently he added, “A miracle.”