He knelt and began feeling his way along the heap. It squirmed a bit as it took shape under his hands - it was definitely Blair, his hands and feet were tied and from the way he jerked at certain touches, he'd been hurt.
"Just lie still, Chief. I'll get you out." Jim rummaged in his own pocket for the Leatherman tool Blair had given him for his birthday a year or so ago. He carefully cut all of Blair's bindings.
The moment Blair's hands were free, he pulled off his gag and Jim found himself with barely enough time to close his knife before Blair pounced on him.
"Jim! I knew you were going to find us!" Jim had been kneeling on the ground. Blair pushed him further down and swarmed all over his lap, kissing and hugging him in between a running commentary of what Bob and Jerry had said and done. Jim just let it happen, while enjoying every moment of it. Blair was alive and well and in his arms and that was enough.
Until he heard the soft sob. "Chief, what was that?"
"What was what?"
"I heard someone."
"Marian! I forgot about Marian. Damn, sensory deprivation is so *not* good for my mental processes. Can you find her?"
The sobs increased. Jim followed them a short distance. She wasn't gagged, although her hands and feet were tied. She allowed Jim to cut her loose as well. He helped her to stand, and she collapsed in tears on his shoulder.
"It's okay, Marian. We're here. Everything's safe now." He patted her back. When her breathing calmed, she stepped back.
"Thank you. Where's Scotty?"
"She hasn't moved by herself or set a word until now." Blair's voice was pitched low enough that Jim knew only he could hear it. She'd been in shock.
"Right outside, Marian. I'll get us out." He spoke as gently as he could.
"It's so dark, and they took the lantern."
"Jim will get us out. He has a...great sense of direction." Blair had found his way towards them. Jim felt his arm brush his as he, too, did his best to reassure her.
"We'd better go. Scotty wants to see you."
"All right. What do I do?"
"Just hold on." He put her hand on one of his shoulders, and guided Blair's arm around his waist. Slowly, he used his hands and ears to find their way back to the surface.
As soon as it was light enough to see, the three of them ran towards the entrance of the cave. Jim was momentarily blinded by the late afternoon sun and stunned by all the shouts of surprise and relief. By the time he'd recovered, with Blair's help, Marian was safely in Scott's arms crying her eyes out.
Still holding Blair's hand, Jim walked up to Scotty. "Where are they?"
"Got 'em hog-tied in the truck. Sheriff'll be out here soon. Marian, did they *touch* you at all?"
"No, Scotty. Not at all."
Blair, who had wrapped his arms tightly around Jim, shook his head. "They talked about it, about...both of us...but Jerry said he wouldn't, so Bob dropped the subject."
"Damn good thing he did." Scotty looked straight into Jim's eyes.
Jim met his gaze. "Oh, yeah." He felt Blair shiver at those words. It didn't matter. No one hurt *his* angel and got away with it. As it was, he owed them. Blair was sporting a black eye.
The sheriff arrived and took statements and evidence and only looked at Jim and Blair funny a couple of times. Then everyone piled into cars and trucks and drove away, leaving the two of them alone with Dancer, whom Jim had untied from Bob's ranch truck.
The sun wa