Special thanks to my bigger and better brain @cortana02 for letting you all know what was going on. If you aren't following her on Twitter, you need to be.
Parts 1-18 are here. Again I am so sorry for leaving you all on such a cliff hanger.]
“ALEXANDER!!” James drops to his stomach and plunges his hands into the water. The cold hits him like a million shards of ice cutting into his flesh. He frantically feels around, searching for any sign of Alexander.
There isn’t one.
He pulls his hands out of the water and takes a deep breath, ready to dive in.
“James!” Michael yells, yanking him back. “You can’t help him like that! You’ll die!”
“GET YOUR FUCKING HANDS OFF ME!!” James screams, kicking himself free. He dives into the water before Michael has a chance to stop him. Even though he knows the water should be cold, he feels like he is on fire. Every inch of him screams for him to kick his way back to the surface, but he fights against it, diving deeper into the freezing water. His eyes are open, but he can’t see an inch in front of him. He flails about wildly, feeling for Alexander. In his head he screams his name over and over again until the words all blur together and become gibberish. He dives deeper and deeper until finally, finally, his fingers brush against something.
He winds his hand around Alexander’s jacket and he pulls him into his arms. Alexander doesn’t move. James swallows his fear and swims towards the light he can see shining through the hole in the ice. The distance seems to have increased exponentially. His lungs beg for oxygen. The freezing water has stolen it all. Just as black spots begin to play in his vision, he reaches the patch of sunlight. He puts his hand up to pull them both out, but his hands meet resistance, like coming up against a panel of glass.
The panic makes his head spin even more than the lack of oxygen. He punches the ice with his fist, trying to crack it. It doesn’t budge. He punches it over and over again, screaming soundlessly at the top of his lungs. Just as he pulls back to hit it again, the ice shatters and a pair of hands plunge into the water, hooking around him and dragging him to the surface. He grips Alexander against his chest, terrified that he’ll slip out of his grasp, but together they fall onto the ice. Michael pulls them away from the hole as James splutters for air.
“James,” Michael gasps, also out of breath. “Are—”
James pulls away from him and rolls around to see Alexander.
His eyes are closed.
His lips are blue.
He’s not breathing.
James fumbles to feel for a pulse, but his hands are shaking too much to find one.
“OH GOD,” he cries, trying to steady himself. “OH MY GOD! ALEXANDER! ALEXANDER!!”
“James!” Michael says, scrambling forward. “Let me! Move! Let me help!!”
He knocks James out of the way without waiting for a response. His fingers fly to Alexander’s neck to find a pulse.
By the look on his face, James knows.
He hasn’t got a pulse, oh God he hasn’t got a pulse.
“Oh God,” James cries, fighting against a second wave of nausea. “Oh God! Alexander! Alexander!”
The breakdown that had been bubbling under the surface hits him with full force. He pulls his own hair, rocking back and forth as Michael covers Alexander’s mouth with his and tries to breathe air into his lungs.
“IT WAS SUPPOSED TO ME!” he screams, driven mad by fear. “THAT WAS THE DEAL WE MADE! IT WAS SUPPOSED TO ME!!”
Michael moves Alexander’s sling out of the way and clasps his hands over his chest, pumping his heart for him. The world seems to spin around James. He can’t even feel the cold anymore. He can’t feel anything except pure terror. He counts each pump of Michael’s hands. Each beat of Alexander’s heart.
“PLEASE!” he screams, wanting to lunge forward to help but completely paralysed by terror. “OH GOD, PLEASE!”
Throws up a lungful of water.
Opens his eyes.
James has him in his arms without any recollection of moving towards him.
“I’m right here, buddy,” he mumbles through his tears. “I’m here.”
“We gotta get out of here,” Michael says, standing up. “Right now. We have to find shelter, or build shelter, or do something…”
James doesn’t move. He stays there, clinging to Alexander like he is the only thing keeping him alive.
“JAMES!” Michael yells, grabbing his arm. “JAMES! STAND UP, MAN! WE CAN’T STAY HERE! WE HAVE TO GO!”
Some of what Michael is shouting trickles down into James’ brain. He becomes aware of the way Alexander is shivering violently in his arms. He stands up.
“We gotta move!” Michael yells, tugging him forward. “We have to go!”
James allows himself to be led, pressing Alexander against him as they go as fast as Michael’s leg can manage.
“You’re going to be alright,” he mumbles to Alexander, trying his best to retain some degree of warmth for the two of them. “You’re going to be okay.” But even as he says it, he knows. He knows.
Without shelter, they’ll die.