"I'm not doin' this, ask someone else, I'm out!"

"D-don't be a dork, he's your friend!"

"Maybe that's why I can't do it, idiot! Somebody..!"

Eddy looked around, offering the rifle to anyone who'd possibly step forward and take this burden from him, but as expected, nobody came forth.
"COME ON!" Eddy shouted. Were they honestly expecting him to do it, were they that sadistic?

He tightly squeezed the weapon while pointing it to the reluctant crowd in the room. He secretly hoped his grip would cause the thing to fall apart and free him from his task. He had tried so hard to avoid this moment from happening, but things went out of control fast and Eddy's positive look on things did not convince the others anymore. Kevin and his squad demanded blood, and he and Ed could only stand there and watch everyone rile themselves up. Eddy was a lousy leader, not even the one he wanted to protect cooperated with him, and now he was given a gun and expected to use it on their problem.
If he didn't know any better, he'd swear the others were testing him to see if he was still on their side.

Eddy turned his sweaty head and saw Edd still sitting there, chained to the garage door, loudly struggling. It was a terrible sight. He was a terrible sight. The many chains were strong enough to hold him, but the old garage door started to deform with every jerk. It was a miracle the thing hadn't already collapsed, but as the door detached itself more and more, the others were getting visibly worried by Eddy's reluctance to act.

"You have to do it! Now, dude!" Nazz yelled at him.

"This wretch must vanish from this sphere, it does not belong here!" Rolf shouted.

"What're you waitin' for, hurry up!" Kevin demanded nervously.

From all sides Eddy was being ordered around. He didn't know who to listen to, even though they all pretty much yelled the same thing. The noise and pressure started to make him feel sick in his stomach, and eventually the angry voices were echoing in the far distance. He didn't want to do this. Please, God, he didn't want to do this. It didn't help that Edd's struggling made the heavy chains bang non-stop onto the steel plates of the garage door, like a warning sound, increasing the anxiety in the room.
Eddy's body cramped. He felt like throwing up, the noise just wouldn't stop and kept reminding him of the horrible nightmare he was in.

"EDDY!?" Kevin shouted.

"Awaken, big-belted Ed-boy! Say the beast its good riddance!" Rolf followed.

Eddy's eyes kept switching back and forth between Edd and the others. He then looked at the rifle in his hands. This just wasn't right, this whole scenario wasn't right.

"EDDY!" Kevin repeated.

Eddy ground his teeth. What was the matter with them, this was still Edd they were talking about! This entire week it was like only he and Ed cared about his well-being, while the others just focused on taking him down, with shovel chin-Kevin leading the angry mob. Stupid Kevin, he always made everything worse.
Eddy hoped he'd be on his side, since he often admitted to like Edd, but he was never once curious about the cause of the problem or the possible solution that was out there waiting for them. A real solution, not a bullet. But Kevin's fear for Edd made him impatient and he managed to drag everyone along with it. And now here they were, shouting at the person they hoped to pressure into fixing the problem for them. So far you could call this a fix.
Eddy wasn't satisfied by his lack of understanding. Something bad happened and only Edd knew what. They've tried talking to him more than once, and Eddy had to admit, it was hard to make him talk or get even a shred of his attention, but that meant they weren't trying hard enough! Just a few more days.. a few more weeks.. years was fine too, he needed more time with him!
Was everyone fine with getting rid of Edd, like he'd always been this monster?

Kevin grabbed Eddy's shoulder and shook him.
"Dork!"

"SHUT UP!" Eddy roared, "SHUT UP, SHUT THE FUCK UP, KEVIN!"

Eddy dropped the rifle, walked to the back of the garage, and sat down on the floor with his arms folded.
"WE'RE NOT KILLING DOUBLE D. I've decided!" he proclaimed loudly.

The increase of volume startled the others into silence and everyone looked at him with an expression of worry and uncertainty. In response to the outburst, Edd stopped the dramatic act and calmed himself down in a frighteningly fast manner. He silently laughed at them.

"This is real sad." he then spoke with a sudden straight face.

"Shut your gap!" Kevin snarled.

"That's not nice, my teeth can't help it."

"If it were up to me you'd be as good as dead!"

"Oh, alright. The gun's over there."

Edd pointed his head at the freshly abandoned rifle on the floor. Everybody awaited Kevin's response, but he didn't say or do anything. He looked like he was trying hard to come up with an excuse, which sure sucked the coolness from his previously uttered threat. Eddy rolled his eyes and continued moping in the corner.
Kevin was loud, but afraid, like everybody else, perhaps moreso. It was easier for him to order other people around, instead of doing something decisive. Eddy had no respect for him and never took his criticisms to heart. Why would he listen to a coward? They were all cowards.

"Because.." Kevin slowly began, "..you know, killing you wouldn't make me any better than you!"
Eddy frowned. But it was alright for him to do it? He audibly scoffed at the remark, which caught Kevin's attention.

"Oh, what!" he snapped at him.

"That's adorable, Superman." Edd interrupted, "But will it benefit anyone?"

"..Why are you doing this, Double D?" Nazz asked.

"It's funny."

"It isn't, you're scaring us, you've gone crazy! Why!"

Edd grinned at her contentedly, but didn't reply. Instead, he turned to Ed, who had not said a word the entire time.
"Say, handsome, is by any chance that cute little sister of yours present in the room?"

Ed immediately regained consciousness and his once tired, defeated face molded into one of fury.
"NO! YOU STAY AWAY FROM MY BABY SISTER, YOU HEAR!"

"I was just asking a question." Edd shrugged.

"C-calm down, monobrow!" Eddy called from the back, "This is still Double D, questions don't hurt anybody!"

"He's.. not-...!" Ed swallowed with growing sorrow in his voice.

"Yeah!" Edd joined in, "No harm in asking mere questions. Like, can I have a taste of your sister?"

"..Double D..!" Ed warned with a trembling voice, "Do n-not test me! Don't!"

"I'll get her sooner or later."

"DOUBLE D!"

"I know she and her pale girlfriend are waiting outside that door right now."

"NO!"

"It'll take me two steps, want me to show you?"

In a blind rage Ed sprinted towards his old friend, but before he could reach the smiling menace, the others quickly jumped him.
"Don't, he can't do anything, he's messin' with ya!" Jonny said, while clinging onto his foot.

"TOUCH SARAH AND YOU'LL BE SORRY!" Ed foamed.

"Why so upset while I'm willing to do you a favour?" Edd smiled,"Wouldn't mom and dad love you again if she went missing?"

"You, YOU!" Ed huffed.

"No Ed!" Nazz begged.

"It's no use, simpleton Ed-boy, the evil can only be fought with the organic belongings of its old self." Rolf calmly reminded him, while still successfully holding onto his left ear.

"Y-yeah, we're about to fix it!" Kevin said, "No use listening to this freak, he's got nothing useful to say, ignore him!"

Ed cared little for their words and tried to escape their grasp with all his might. His face was burning red and his eyes were bloodshot, it was the first time the others experienced him that upset. Or showing any emotion at all. Ed didn't know how to handle a situation he'd normally read about in his comics. Not of this magnitude. Not if it concerned a friend. He once shared Eddy's upbeat viewpoint, but then met with the results of Edd's actions. It was too real for him, the whole experience had turned him into an empty shell, lifeless and broken.
Eddy was disappointed to find his friend like that; he lost the only person who'd possibly stand by him through the end. Sure, Ed tried his best to act agreeable whenever Eddy needed it, but seeing him snap like this, it could've only been the anger and disgust he'd been carrying around for Edd this entire time.

"Stop it!" Nazz shouted.

"LEMME GO, I'M GONNA PUNCH HIM!" Ed yelled, "HE WANTS TO HURT SARAH!"

"Ed!" Eddy grumbled irritated,"You're not helping Double D this way, sit your butt down!"

"THAT'S NOT DOUBLE D! THAT'S NOT-"

"I DON'T WANNA HEAR IT!" Eddy interrupted him.

Ed looked at Eddy, with veins travelling through his long neck. Eddy's face clearly beat his on showing off displeasure, thus Ed slowly calmed himself down till the point the others could finally let go. Ed still felt his heart beating inside his throat. Edd had ignored him ever since this started, and these were the first words said to him.. It was like a dagger pushed into his heart, and another confirmation that things would never be the same.
Ed swallowed his last bits of anger and took a few steps back. He wasn't sure what he would've done -or what would've happened to him- if the others weren't there to hold him back. He already regretted his actions, he didn't want to be like this, or feel like this. Nobody in their right mind would. Edd was once a person dear to him.

Everyone looked relieved to have gotten the peace back, so far that was possible in this setting, but Edd looked upset by Eddy's break-up.
"You.." he spoke ominously, "You are the dumbest of them all."

Eddy looked up. "What?"

"Out of everyone in the room, you're the most incapable of passing judgement. Why are you in charge?"

Nobody knew how to respond, as they weren't sure why he assumed Eddy's official role as a leader or why this made him angry. When Edd picked up on the confused silence, he turned to the others:
"You're all wasting your time, and you may thank lard beak here."

"Double D, jeez!" Eddy said slightly embarrassed.

"I'm not this Double D, you moron. I'm merely using his body. I don't even know who you people are, but I'll admit, it was fun hanging out with you guys."

They gave each other a puzzled look, whereafter their curiosity spiked.
"..You look like Double D." Nazz commented.

"You're easily fooled. He's been dead for a solid 2 months now."

"Whaddaya mean, you're sittin' right there!" Eddy said angrily, "Why're ya still playin' these games with us, dontcha see you're neck-deep in it already?!"

"DOUBLE D IS DEAD..?" Ed panicked.

"Double D's not dead, damnit! Shut up, Ed!" Eddy snarled at him.

"Stop listening to him, shoot him!" Kevin demanded, "He's talking nonsense, he's always talking nonsense!"

"I'm not shooting Double D!"

As everybody started bickering with each other again, Edd began to laugh.
"This is why, lard beak." he chuckled.

"Why what!" Eddy replied annoyed.

"..why I'm hot, ho ho ho."

"What a surprise, wasting our time again." Kevin grumbled, "Nothing's gonna change, Eddy! Double D's not getting better!"

Kevin was right, but Eddy didn't want him to be right, he wanted himself to be right. Edd had been far from helpful and now he was supposedly "dead"? Eddy didn't know what that meant or if it was something worth lingering on. There was a constant pattern with Edd; either he was on some kind of frenzy and wanted to knock their heads clean off, or he was "calmly" ridiculing them. Dealing with a two-faced character was a chore, and since most of what he said was a jab at them, it was difficult to determine what claim was the jab and what was the truth. His face certainly showed his intentions. He enjoyed watching them groan, yell, cry, complain and fight. He didn't care whether or not he'd get a fist to the face, either.
When out of chains, he lived to destroy them and others, when in chains, he lived to see them emotionally destroy themselves. Eddy had witnessed it twice now, Edd was fine with making himself out to be extremely unlikeable. It was confusing, this was nothing like him.

Eddy rubbed the back of his bruised head. The painful spot reminded him of all the trouble he had gone though to get to this point. Having captured Edd just to end his life was not the reward he hoped for.
In the right corner of his eyes he saw Ed standing next to him. Though he just had an anger attack, he was back to being his defeated self. Surely, he also didn't want to make any mistakes they couldn't revert? Eddy was willing to do anything, as long it didn't involve killing their childhood friend. How could that possibly be a bad thing? Edd's changed behaviour made it a challenge to recall the many years they spent together, it felt like so long ago now, but it was wrong to discard these good memories. They'd been through much, and Eddy had done much wrong in the past; things Edd always forgave him for or accepted as "quirks".
Eddy had never shown gratitude for Edd's golden patience towards him, and Ed for that matter. This witch hunt made him regretful, uncertain, and unwilling to go forth. He didn't want to make a wrong call. Edd being sick was a crucial moment where he had to show him he didn't take him for granted and he was worth the effort. It hurt him that nobody else felt that way.

After another long silence, Jonny decided to approach him:
"Eddy.. I think Double D means he's no longer our friend, and that we hafta accept th-"

"Suck one!" Eddy hissed.

"I don't think this is Double D at all.." Ed muttered.

"This is Double D! He was Double D before he got sick, how can he suddenly not be Double D?!"

"I-I dunno.."

"There's alot you 'dunno', nobody here knows anything, but you all sure act like it! Why're ya givin' up on Double D?"

"Wha..?" Kevin whispered to himself in disbelief for the moral lecture.

"..I'm not! We all owe him this!" Eddy continued.

"A-after EVERYTHING that happened..!" Kevin then huffed, "You're crazy! Whatever's going on with him, it's not a cold, or a fever, or whatever bullshit you've been telling us!"

"He is sick!" Eddy argued, "And there's a cure for everything, we're gonna keep lookin' for it."

"There isn't a cure for everything!"

"I think we should find more medical books and keep searchin'." Eddy suggested with slight optimism in his voice, "Who's with me?"

"Eddy, there's no cure for this.." Jonny replied.

"Cause you'd know, Jonny?! You a doctor now?"

"Stubborn-like-a-weed-Eddy!" Rolf intervened, "Rolf already found the cure, have you forgotten?"

"Your Germanistan voodoo magic isn't a cure! I want a real cure, I want-"

"It doesn't matter what YOU want!" Kevin roared, "He killed that Kanker, who knows if he killed those other people too, damnit Eddy, he tried to kill us!"

"T-those Kankers, who trusts em!"

"I DO! THE MOMENT THEY FOUND THEIR SISTER'S TORSO LYING AT THEIR DOOR!" Kevin exploded, "Don't you think they care enough about each other to give an accurate testimony? Or is everyone and everything always against you, Eddy-weddy, is that it?"

"Kevin!" Nazz barked, "Leave Eddy alone! Just for once, back off! Double D is his friend, don't you understand what he's feeling? What if it were me..?!"

Kevin mumbled to himself as he turned around. Eddy was grateful for Nazz' support, but it did not solve the issue at hand. Nor did it count as a victory for him. Eddy could see by the faces surrounding him that Kevin's points were shared, while he just made a fool out of himself in front of them. It was disappointing, he wasn't preaching for their pity.
Edd was leaned back and silently watched the group with a most creepy, satisfied smile on his face. He really was at peace with himself, despite his position.

"What can we even do, Eddy?" Ed asked with a voice drained of emotion.

"You know what you have to do..!" Kevin replied.

"Stop yappin', lemme think for once!" Eddy snarled, "..There's gotta be something similar to Double D's problem, at least. There's so much we haven't tried yet."

"I don't think we could find a doctor who'll want to treat him for an illness that doesn't exist." Jonny said.

"I already told ya, no adults!" Eddy replied, "We can't show him to anyone, so that's already outta the question!"

"What random drug you wanna inject him with, then?!" Kevin asked, "You're just delaying things again!"

"Kevin..!" Nazz hissed.

"There gotta be a way!" Eddy argued.

"There is no way!"

"There's no way I'd shoot Double D, you mean!"

"Then tell me, Eddy.." Kevin began, "How many people are you planning to sacrifice just so that that monster can live? You know what he needs now, you wanna give it to him?"

"I'm.." Eddy stammered, "..Not.. I.."

Eddy froze up. Would he go that far? Eddy quickly looked at Ed, trying to find the answer in his eyes, but his expression was similar to his. Of course Edd needed to be kept alive for as long they were out looking for this miracle, but what they had to do in order to ensure his survival.. was..

"Hey now.. wait.."

Eddy tried to find his words, but he couldn't come up with anything that wasn't a dark confession. Kevin knew he had said enough and headed to the back of the garage, where he waited for whatever was going to happen next. Ed started to silently sob, soon Eddy followed. He and Ed had their share of bad traits and habits, but would they honestly kill people to keep this rotten version of Edd alive? They couldn't do this.
What was a realistic time frame for finding this cure? How many lives would it take and for how long would they be willing to serve Edd like this? And what if they found that cure one day, would things even be the same after everything that happened? Would Edd be able to live with himself?

..Why were these hyperboles even entertained, Eddy already knew.. there was no cure, because this was no illness. Whatever happened to Edd, it was out of this world and out of their control. But this despicable creature was the only thing left of him. It wasn't anything Ed or Eddy could cherish in any way, but it wasn't something he wanted to let go of, either. He had to be realistic about the situation, but it was hard. He tried not to acknowledge that Edd couldn't stay and made so many excuses, but this was the last straw, Eddy couldn't possibly give up his humanity in order to protect a psychopath. Ed was right, this wasn't Edd. Whatever happened to the real Edd was not clear to anyone, but the person sitting in front of them was somebody else. An impostor, a demon, wearing and abusing Edd's image.

"BOO HOO!" Edd called at the crying boys.

Ed and Eddy looked at him through their tears with disbelief. Why did this Edd enjoy hurting them so much? Why didn't he just pretend to be Edd, Eddy would've bought it. He would've bought anything, he just wanted things to be like they once were. He was ready to forgive him for all his horrible deeds, if he'd just stop this and come back to them. He wanted to untie him, he wanted to be bored by him, he wanted him to be his Edd. But this Edd cared little for his wants, he wasn't doing anything to save himself or make himself seem trustworthy. He almost seemed to do it on purpose, as to spite them.

"Guys, there's nothing wrong with doing the right thing." Nazz reassured the two, "You know, Double D wouldn't have liked it if someone abused his body like this."

"Are ya startin' now too.." Eddy sighed.

"Look at everything he's done and all the trouble we've been through.." she sniffled, "He's a phony and he's using the love you have for him against you, that's sick!"

"Yeah, you guys are good friends, ya don't need to prove that anymore." Jonny added, "Especially not by tryin' to like this jerk."

Eddy slowly headed towards the rifle on the floor and picked it up. He let out a deep sigh as he looked at the weapon in his hands. He just wanted someone to tell him that there's still hope. Or tell him this was all a sick, unfunny prank. But so far people only told him to shoot. "He's dangerous, kill him". "Pick up that damn rifle and shoot". These past few days were like Hell. Everybody looked tired and frustrated, and obviously had enough, with exception of Edd, who was still calmly sitting on the floor. He looked like he didn't have a care in the world and was just waiting for someone to bring him a cup of tea.

Eddy let out a deep, trembling sigh. Then with much hesitation, he slowly pointed the rifle at his chained friend.
"Hey, don't point that thing at me, you might hit me." Edd joked. He was still going at it. The maniac.

While aiming the rifle, Eddy's body started shaking and cold sweat ran down his back. It didn't help that the others either turned their backs or their eyes away from the scene. It was like everyone abandoned him and he was standing in the room by himself. He felt lonely. Eddy held his breath as his eyes started to water again.

"I don't wanna make more mistakes..!" he sobbed.

Why Edd. Why Peach Creek.

"I just can't.. I.. can't live with myself.. if I make a mistake..!"

Eddy closed his eyes tightly and then opened them again. But he was still standing there with this ugly rifle in his hands, pointed at Edd. That boy he knew for 15 years. What were they going to do after this? It didn't even matter, their lives were ruined.
Eddy swallowed. Everything seemed so surreal, he couldn't believe what was going on.

"I don't believe it either, Eddy." Ed said.

Eddy wiped away a tear. "Heh. You're telekanpetik, Ed?"

...

"..It's "telepathic", Eddy."

Ed and Eddy looked up and saw Edd smiling at them. But it was different from his usual creepy smiles, it was familiar for once. It was a friend's request. Everything that had happened in the room started to make a little more sense. They were good friends, they didn't need to prove that anymore.

Ed held onto the rifle and then they both aimed.

"See you in a second life, Double D." Ed smiled.