A/N: And now for something a little bit different. I came up with the basic idea for this a few month ago, but couldn't get it to form up the way I wanted to whenever I sat to write it down. Format wise it's a lot different than anything else I've written so far, and the biggest complaint I had from my Beta was she didn't understand where and when this was meant to take place. I couldn't figure out how to fix that without ruining the feel I was going for, so to avoid the confusion, I'll just say it outright: It's metaphorical, encompassing the end of the Successors arc. …:P

Heavily inspired by Don't Jump by Tokio Hotel, I really suggest that everyone listen to it at least once before reading. It's easy to find on YouTube. Enjoy!

(Oh, and anyone concerned about other WIP's, don't worry, they're still being worked on. ;3)

Beta: SkyTurtle3.

Music: 'Don't Jump' by Tokio Hotel.

Disclaimer: Death Note and related characters © Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata.

...

Vertigo

Raven Ehtar

...

On the roof, the air was so cold and calm that you could hear your own heart beating, you could feel your blood slowly thicken and freeze, your breath would hang frozen in silent mockery of your mortality. A tiny breeze, the ghost of an earlier season crushed by cold and darkness, was just enough to stir the falling flakes of ice, swirling them to strike at skin and eyes, tiny pinpricks of crystalline pain and numbing chill. The view was beautiful, if you thought a dying world beautiful, watching as it sank into white, echoing stagnation. Cold throttled life, ice buried it, snow smothered anything that dared to stir. Even the skies were gray, gray, gray; the air itself lost the will to live when everything around it was already dead.

Standing on the edge of the roof, toes hanging freely over oblivion, was a boy just turning into a man. If he saw what was below him he didn't acknowledge it, his eyes were locked straight ahead. If he felt the bitter air sucking heat and life out of his bones, he ignored it. The weak wind bestirred itself around him, plucking at his clothes, whipping his pale hair into tangled knots, pulling, pushing, coaxing him nearer the edge, inviting him to fall, to embrace his fate.

He would not fall. Something so passive as simply falling was not a part of his persona. If he went over the edge, it would be because it was exactly what he wanted to do.

A pace behind, wanting to call out the boy's name but knowing it would only drive him to taking that final step into emptiness, another man-child watched him. He knew that the boy at the edge would want to take that step soon, if he didn't already. Despair and pain had driven him here, to this place of slow, freezing death. It had driven them both here, but him more so… more than anyone else seemed to realize. Watching him, his feet almost halfway gone over the lip leading to eternity, muscles practically quivering with desire to throw himself over, eyes reflecting back the emptiness he gazed into, it was hard to believe no one else could see how far gone he was.

Maybe it took another orphan from the Wammy House to see it. Maybe it took him to see it, to understand what it was he felt. They were here together, after all.

He was driving himself, that boy on the edge. Driving harder than he had ever driven himself before, and was acting recklessly. Always in the cause of finding those who were guilty, of bringing justice to the ones who believed themselves justified in deciding whose blood should stain the walls of humanity. Always to that end, but in ways that risked his own safety when it was unnecessary, when more care could keep him protected. They both did that, he supposed, in their own ways.

Stepping closer to the edge, his own feet hanging so close to the relief of nothingness, he could understand the allure of it. So close, vertigo spun through his senses. It was like he was falling already, the world tilted dizzily around him. It would take so little, so tantalizingly little to become one with the coldness singing though his veins, to leave the pain and fear and despair behind and just feel nothing…

It's why the competition was so important.

He looked out of the corner of his eye to the other boy. He hadn't acknowledged his appearance, that he was no longer alone on the edge of the world. His eyes looked ahead, always into the future, even if that future contained only silence. His face was relaxed, soft and calm, deathly pale as the wind stole warmth and slowed circulation, his lips were slightly parted, as though he were about to speak.

Competition, competition, competition, it was the only thing that kept him from jumping into the void uselessly. His pride, so easily manipulated, was the leash used to keep him from jumping. He had to stay on this side on mortality if he wanted to prove himself, if he wanted to win. Would anyone else had known how to play that nerve so well as he had? And even if they did, could they? Who knew what it was exactly the two of them were to each other, what ties they shared, but it was unique, and no one could hope to imitate it.

Near and Mello, the Successors. Brothers and enemies, competitors and friends… no, no one else could hope to drive them the way they drove each other.

And now they were nearing the end. Oblivion called them both as the pieces of the puzzle fit together, spinning vertigo sang through their bones.

Which of us is going to get to Kira first…?

The race is on…

Is this where their race had led them? The edge of everything, looking down on the gray world, sunk in pathetic fear and willingly controlled by a self-appointed god? Were they the only ones willing to fight for the freedom that the rest of humanity had meekly handed over?

The only ones willing to fight, to sacrifice what was needed, and they had all toppled, one by one. No one would ever know whose blood had paid for their freedom. That blood would be on their hands, as surely as Kira's hands were stained, as their own were… No one was getting out of this with their purity intact.

They could both jump. They could both take that leap and come face to face with the final reality together.

But then who would win their race? One had to survive, one had to win. They couldn't both rush into the chill embrace of Death.

One had to stay behind.

Mello smiled, felt something inside him break, but couldn't find it in himself to care. This is just to win the game, he told himself, but couldn't make himself believe it. Not quite.

The younger boy's eyes had drifted closed, his head tilted back so drifting flakes of snow gathered and melted, water flowing down his cheeks like tears. Mello had never seen Near weep. He was always too proud to let it show.

Mello turned, put a hand in the center of the smaller boy's chest and shoved him backwards. Near landed on his backside, stared up at him, his eyes wide. Mello gave him a harsh smile, his eyes were chips of ice. Near was his enemy, the one he despised… he wouldn't jump while Mello was there to stop him.

Facing Near, his back to the emptiness, he raised his arms like they were wings.

Our destination is the same. I'll be waiting for you when you get there…

Near's face was bewildered, uncomprehending. Roaring filled Mello's ears, the world softened around the edges.

Mello stepped back, still smiling.

And fell.