In From The Cold

Disclaimer: Don't own any of the characters in this story. Wish I did!

Special thanks to loisarah for the beta :o) Any and all remaining mistakes are mine.

Part 1

"Spike! Spike, get off the ice!"

"SPIKE!"

"Oh my God, he fell in!"

"We gotta get him out!"

"Where is he? I don't see him!"

The frantic shouts cut through the frigid air like knives, the scene dissolving into sudden chaos.

"There!" Sam's voice instantly silenced those of his team mates. He pointed to where Spike's head had just broken the surface, a few meters from the shore. "I'm going in!" he announced, immediately dropping himself to his stomach and slithering onto the ice.

"Sam, careful!" Ed warned. "That ice could break any second! We'll get you a rope!"

"No time, Ed, trucks are too far down the road!" Sam said grimly as he carefully inched across the ice. He felt a hand wrap itself around his ankle and glanced down long enough to identify its owner: Raf. Sam nodded gratefully at his team mate and quickly turned back to where Spike was trying to hoist himself onto the ice - only to watch in horror as Spike lost his grip and fell back into the freezing water. "Spike! Boss, he went under! I lost hi- there!" he shouted, immediately adjusting his heading when he saw Spike break the surface again just a meter or so down the stream. "Spike! Spike, hold on!"

Spike clawed at the ice, his fingers desperately scrabbling for purchase, and finally managed to dig the fingernails of his left hand into a tiny crack. Sam pushed himself forward, knowing how tenuous Spike's hold would be: he didn't just have to support his own weight, but about thirty pounds worth of gear as well.

"Slow and careful, Sam, or you'll fall right in after him," Greg reminded him through his ear piece. "That's it, that's good. Raf, make sure you don't lose him!"

"Don't worry, boss, I got Sam. Not lettin' go!" Raf shouted back over the radio and Sam felt the grip on his ankle tighten.

Sam edged across the ice as far as he could without dragging Raf with him, and reached out his hand. "Spike! Spike, grab my hand!"

Spike kicked and reached out, but couldn't quite grasp Sam's outstretched fingers. He fell back and only just managed to keep his hold on the ice. Sam could tell Spike was weakening, the freezing water leeching his strength; his face was white and his lips were already taking on a bluish tinge. "Raf!" Sam called out. "Raf, I can't reach him! I need a little more leeway!"

"You got it!" Raf shouted back and Sam instantly felt him give his leg a boost.

"Go ahead, Raf, I got you. Slow and careful," Sam heard Ed say, and he gained another few precious centimeters.

Ignoring the chill that was seeping through his own uniform, Sam reached out again and stretched his arm as far as he could. "C'mon, Spike! Reach!"

Spike was fading visibly, his eyes becoming dull and unfocused. With a supreme effort he managed to pull his right arm from the water, and reached out once more. "That's it…" Sam encouraged, seizing Spike's icy fingers as soon as they came within his reach and clamping onto his friend's wrist with his other hand. "I got you, Spike! Raf, Ed, I got him! Pull me back!" Sam shouted down the radio. "Hold on, Spike, we're getting you out. Hold on."

Spike's teeth were chattering so badly he couldn't even reply.

Sam felt himself being slowly dragged back across the ice and tightened his hold on Spike's wrist, struggling to retain his grip when Spike was shaking so badly. The added weight of Spike's body made the going extremely slow and Sam wondered how long Spike had been exposed to the bitter cold by now. It had taken Sam at least five minutes to even reach his friend and it was probably going to take even longer than that to get him off the ice. He noticed Spike's eyes kept threatening to close, but his friend was fighting hard to stay awake.

"Spike?" Sam said, digging his thumb nail into Spike's skin. "Stay with us, Spike."

Spike responded to the stimulus by opening his eyes a little wider, but Sam could tell it took far more effort than it should.

"Jules, you get those blankets?" Greg's worried voice crackled in his ear.

"Got 'em right here, boss."

"Winnie, where the hell are those EMTs?"

"Almost there, Sarge!"

Sam tried to ignore the voices in his ear and focused all his attention on keeping Spike awake. In the space of a few minutes, Spike's violent shaking had subsided, leaving him shivering weakly. Sam knew it was a bad sign. "Hold on, Spike. We're almost there. Stay with us."

Finally, they managed to pull Spike off the ice and safely onto the shore. The rest of the team immediately converged on their freezing team mate. Jules stood by with the blankets while Ed was already yanking down the zipper of Spike's soaked vest. "We gotta get him out of these clothes!"

As the rest of the team worked on getting Spike dry, Sam crouched down beside his shivering team mate to try and shelter him from the wind chill. The contrast between Spike's wet, dark hair and his white face shocked him, and it took him a few seconds to realize Spike's lips were moving in an effort to speak. Sam hastily bent forward, straining to hear.

Spike's voice sounded weak and hoarse, as though he'd been screaming. "S- Sub-ject?"

Sam straightened a little and smiled tightly. "We got her, Spike," he said, patting Spike's now blanketed shoulder. "She's okay; you got her off the ice in time. The unis have her in custody. You just worry about yourself, all right?"

Spike nodded weakly and closed his eyes.

"NO!" Sam almost shouted and Spike, startled, dragged his eyelids open. "No, Spike," Sam said more calmly. "Don't go to sleep, okay? You gotta stay awake." Spike just blinked at him sluggishly, still shivering as Ed finished peeling his soaked uniform off of him.

Sam kept talking and didn't realize he was shaking a little himself until someone draped a blanket across his shoulders. When Sam looked up, Greg had knelt on Spike's other side and was leaning forward. "Spike. Spike? Are you with me, buddy?" he said loudly, trying to get Spike to look at him. Spike was barely conscious, his eyes unfocused and wandering. Greg gently caught Spike's face between his hands and held him still. "Spike, look at me. C'mon, stay with me."

Spike, who was now completely wrapped up in blankets, slowly met Greg's gaze, very briefly. Then Sam watched, horrified, as Spike went limp and closed his eyes. And didn't open them again.