John's eyes flickered to the ground, momentarily startled. Swiping his foot against the snow, he unearthed thick ice, and bellow the misted surface bubbles shifted below. They were on an oversized lake.
Loud, deafening cracks of thick ice shattering shook the agent and the super soldier as they fought. Pieces of ice shifted apart in to heavy drifting slabs.
John was just able to catch the edge of the ice with a hand before the slab slammed back in to the water, rocking violently and threatening to throw him. Panting, he knew he wasn't going to win, long before Billy Miles appeared knocking him off the ice with a kick to his stomach, driving the air out of him in the process.
The water was thick, like watery slush. So as John made impact on the surface, he sunk into the dark water that churned with watery ice. Instinct clawed at him, he raised one hand to swim upwards but only felt himself sink further. His coat had grown heavy. It was a struggle peeling of his coat, which clung to him, not wanting to let him go.
Without the extra layer John became more aware of the biting chill of the water. It was putting pressure on him, pressing small needles of ice in to his skin. The coldness of the water was seeping in to his body, mingling with his muscles and chilling him to the bone. He kept his eyes closed, trying desperately not to choke on the water and reach the surface.
It was at that point John's skull tapped a solid surface.
His eyes flew wide, hardly noticing the water burning his eyes. He wanted to scream in horror but kept his jaw locked and his lungs empty. His heart was already pounding painfully in his chest, straining for oxygen.
He then saw a glimpse of colour, a familiar smudge of brown through the ice. He lashed out at the solid barrier before him, to gain attention, but the smudge of colour moved out of sight as John bounced deeper in to the water. Kicking to return to the surface only caused tearing pain in his cold and cramping muscles. With his chest aching horribly and his head growing light, John made one last, illogical attempt to escape the water.
He opened his mouth to scream.
Instinct drove him to take a breath, his lungs at their limit and ready to burst. But, as predicted, no oxygen flooded his body, but water did. His body jerked, choking on the slush in an attempt to rid itself of the liquid, but couldn't.
The chill's grip strengthened, weaving its way through his insides and making his body shake violently. Finally John felt himself stop shaking, he could just make out the colour of the water around him, but darkness played at the edge of his vision, mocking and waiting to consume him.
Then, just as John's struggles turned to sluggish twitching, a loud crunch of ice jolted the water.
He made out a blur, which he assumed was his saviour. A hand shot past the surface, latching on to his shirt but John couldn't find the energy to react. He was forcefully yanked from the water, the air burning his skin, before he hit the ice with enough force that he should have felt it.
For a long moment, John didn't move, he couldn't. He knew he should be breathing, but he was so tired. As John's half-lidded eyes flickered closed, the hand returned, this time catching his shoulder gently and jerking him on to his side. The movement was enough to jolt John's lungs.
Water spewed past his lips, before dragging in ragged gasp that hitched over droplets of water. The oxygen only made John dizzy; he roughly coughed until his lungs were clear before his tensing muscles grew limp and he slumped against the ice, breathing heavily.
Blurs before his eyes started to take shape, and as the colours cleared, John started to notice the hand was still on his shoulder.
The word bounced around in his skull, echoing in his water-filled ears. Shaking his head gently, trying to clear his head, John blinked slowly until his eyes finally focussed on a familiar pair of eyes. John saw it was Monica. She was dripping wet and very concerned.
"John? Can you hear me?"
The question took a moment to sink in, the agent blinked before jerkily nodding, this time croaking out a weak affirmative.
Monica had her eyes on John, but he didn't shift a muscle, too exhausted to move; only able to take in staggered breaths.
For the long moments that she had waited for Billy Miles to leave before saving John, she had felt an inkling of dread in her chest. A movement in Monica's chest, a tightening of a sought, spurred her to her partner's aid.
Monica didn't spare a moment to shatter the thick ice, not even pausing to notice the silence below the surface. Then, after fishing John from the water, she had felt despair take hold of her heart and tighten its relentless grip.
For a long, drawn out moment, John hadn't moved.
Instinct had her thinking about CPR but thought about jerking the man to the side, hoping to re-spark the will to live. She was almost startled by the consuming wave of relief she felt when John choked and hungrily drew in air.
She waited for his heart to steady; taking an extra moment to make sure it was strong, before saying his name. She wasn't surprised that John didn't even blink. She tried again, this time gaining a response, a hoarse, damaged sound that turned her stomach.
Monica mentally noted that John had rid himself of beloved coat to escape the freezing water.
Suddenly she paused in thought; John wasn't shivering. Even Monica knew his body had suffered extreme cold for an extended period of time; hyperthermia had its hold on John's body, freezing muscles and stemming the ability to shiver. If Monica didn't get him away from the cold, he wouldn't survive the hour.
She hooked her arms under John's, lifted him to her chest and pressed him there to offer some warmth. John, still only half-aware of his surroundings, made a tired sound of surprise before letting his head fall heavily on to her chest.
She called 911 and a while later an ambulance arrived.
The agent was still half-asleep, his eyes fluttering open then slipping closed, as if knowing he shouldn't fall asleep. Soon the heat was penetrating John's chilled muscles, causing violent shivering to wrack his body, trying to overcome the shock of the sudden change of temperature.
When Monica got to the hospital she went to see John.
John didn't make a sound, just gave a prompting nod.
"How are you feeling?"
"You… saved me, Mon," His words were soft.
Monica kissed his head and smiled.
"Of course I did," She said.
John took Monica's hand and pulled her towards him. His lips met hers in a passionate kiss.
"Monica, I love you," John whispered.
"John, I love you too," Monica replied.