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The Grouchiest Friendship/Part 1

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Empath's tale about how he and Grouchy became friends started around 80 years before his final return from Psychelia. Back then, he had just met Papa Smurf in Psychelia when the Psyche Master brought the village leader in to see how his son, who used to be named Empathy, was doing. Apparently, Papa Smurf wasn't convinced by the Psyche Master's words since he tricked Papa Smurf into thinking that his son had died when Papa Smurf left Empathy as an infant in Psychelia. So the Psyche Master allowed him to see Empath in his chambers.

Empath appeared as he entered the temple of the Psyche Master, wearing a black bodysuit with silver cuffs on his wrists and ankles. Except for his blue skin and bald head, Empath looked like one of the Psyches.

"Empath Psyche, designation 1137-K, acknowledging his presence," he announced in a voice of no particular emotion as he bowed to the Psyche Master.

"Empath Psyche, you have a visitor here from a place called the Smurf Village who claims that you are of his people," the Psyche Master introduced. "You are to address him as Papa Smurf."

Empath turned to Papa Smurf. "Salutations, Papa Smurf!" he started to say, but his voice fell away when his eyes noticed something about Papa Smurf that made his eyes open wide with curiosity. He went over to Papa Smurf and examined him all over with his eyes, noting every detail of this being -- his face with a brown beard that was now tinged with gray, his pear-shaped body with its slightly paunchy stomach, his springy legs and slightly muscular arms, his blue skin, even his short stubby tail. Then Empath ripped open a hole in his bodysuit and examined his own hand through the tear. He was shocked.

"Great Ancestors!" he exclaimed. "How could this be...that this one shares the same skin tone with a half-naked, overweight, misshapen, bald, bearded savage of a being?"

Papa Smurf frowned, realizing that whatever the Psyche Master was teaching him, it might as well be saying that Empathy had died and now only this being who was in his son's body was left. Somehow part of him was hoping that wasn't the case.

"Are you satisfied with what you've seen here, Papa Smurf?" the Psyche Master asked, sounding a bit impatient.

Papa Smurf didn't answer that question. "I wish to make a change in the agreement, Psyche Master," he requested as he faced the being before him. "Since Empath here doesn't know anything about what being a Smurf is like, I wish to let him visit my village for at least a year to find out for himself!"

"That was not part of our original agreement, Papa Smurf," the Psyche Master boomed. "He is to remain here and complete his training before he is returned to you."

"You can't keep smurfing me out of his life like that while you keep teaching him these things about how to smurf outsiders," Papa Smurf protested. "He needs to know where he smurfs from and I won't leave until you allow me to show him that!"

The Psyche Master decided to settle this matter as quickly as possible, since it was becoming tiresome for him to deal with an outsider like Papa Smurf. He ordered Empath to wait outside the temple before he and Papa Smurf continued their discussion alone.

"If he is allowed to visit your village, there are three conditions you must abide by, Papa Smurf," the Psyche Master continued. "First of all, nothing of what you teach Empath about his true origins can interfere with his training as a Psyche. And secondly, you must not reveal anything of your true origin to Empath. Only when he is released to you on his 150th birthday can he know about his relationship to you, but only then."

"You would deny Empath the chance to know his own father?" Papa Smurf asked, not liking the second condition one bit.

"He must not think of you as his father yet, Papa Smurf," the Psyche Master demanded. "Finally, he must be returned to Psychelia on exactly a year from this date. Any violation of that agreement and Empath will not be allowed to see you at all. Is that understood?"

Papa Smurf felt he didn't have a choice. "I accept, Psyche Master," he finally answered, not wishing to bring on his wrath like he did the last time.

"Very well," the Psyche Master boomed. "This will be the first visit Empath will be allowed, but whether or not he has any additional visits to your village will be entirely up to you, Papa Smurf."

Papa Smurf nodded, not saying anything more. He was through kissing the feet of this tyrant of a leader -- for now, anyway. He was instructed to wait outside while the Psyche Master had some words with Empath about the subject himself.


"This one awaits your instructions, Psyche Master," Empath announced after he returned inside the temple and Papa Smurf had left to wait outside.

"This being called Papa Smurf requires your presence in his village, where you are to learn the ways of his people," the Psyche Master explained. "You are instructed to go with him to his village for the duration of a single year, after which you shall return here. Nothing you may learn about being a Smurf must ever be shared with anyone in Psychelia upon your return, no matter what. Is that acknowledged, Empath?"

"This one acknowledges, Psyche Master," Empath replied, "though this one will not forget that this one is a true Psyche and not what this Papa Smurf claims this one to be."

"Savage beings are known to make dubious claims in order to possess something or someone that they don't have as their very own, Empath," the Psyche Master reminded him. "Nonetheless, you are to treat this leader of the Smurfs with the same respect as you would myself, but do not turn your back on what savage acts he or others like him might commit on you while you are in his village." Just then, Empath found his wrist and ankle cuffs removing themselves and falling to the floor. "From now until a year later, you will be on your own, disconnected from the link of your fellow Psyches. I am entrusting you to uphold the ideals of the Psyches while you are in Papa Smurf's custody."

"This one acknowledges the warning, and will not disappoint you, Psyche Master," Empath replied, this time prostrating before the leader of the Psyches before he left the temple.


Soon both Papa Smurf and Empath found themselves flying on the back of a stork toward the Smurf Village. Empath didn't have anything to say to Papa Smurf from the moment they both walked away from the Psyche Master's temple up until they were halfway to the village.

"Why do you call this one a Smurf?" Empath asked.

"That is what you are, Empath," Papa Smurf answered. "You are more of a Smurf than you are a Psyche...you have just yet begun to realize that for yoursmurf!"

"This one is nothing like you," Empath insisted, briefly looking back at the being riding in back of him and then quickly turning away. "The Psyche Master has shown this one the true nature of himself already. This one speaks as a true Psyche, without the clutter of your backward language."

"The Psyche Master can't smurf you anything about what you are truly born as," Papa Smurf tried to explain. "He only wants you to believe that you are smurfed a Psyche. He can smurf you a lot about how to live as a Psyche, which is why I want you to smurf that there's more about you than you are led to believe yoursmurf to be."

"This one has difficulty understanding your words," Empath stated outright, "but there's nothing you or your savage race can do to change this one from believing that he is a true Psyche."

Papa Smurf found himself counting to ten to keep his slowly flaring temper under control. Apparently, dealing with Empath was going to be difficult, especially with his comments about the Smurfs being a "savage race."

"Maybe not now, Empath," Papa Smurf managed to say without lashing out, "but you will find out!"

As the stork flew over the Smurf Village, Empath looked down and saw it for the first time. It looked more lively and colorful than Psychelia, though it also looked primitive and disordered with lots of mushroom cottages, some in various states of dirt and disrepair. He also saw about 97 young Smurfs -- your fellow Smurfs, Papa Smurf told Empath -- down below, gathering around where he assumed the stork was going to land, primarily waiting for Papa Smurf. As he looked at them, Empath noticed that like Papa Smurf, they also weren't fully dressed.

"Do all of these Smurfs have no sense of modesty?" he asked Papa Smurf as the both of them dismounted the stork after it landed.

Papa Smurf didn't answer that question right then and there. Instead, he faced the crowd of young Smurfs who were looking at this blue-skinned stranger wearing a black bodysuit, wondering who he was and where he came from.

"My little Smurfs," Papa Smurf announced, loud enough for all of them to hear, "I want you all to meet a Smurf who has been smurfing most of his life outside of this village. His name is Empath, and he will be smurfing with us for a year to smurf how we live our lives here. So please make sure you smurf your name as you greet him to make him smurf right at home."

Empath barely understood what all that meant, though he did figure it out when each young Smurf came up to him to say their names and greet him in various ways. The first was a Smurf who was wearing a green-plaid kilt. "I am Duncan McSmurf of the clan McSmurf. You may not call me anything but by that name only. Otherwise, I am pleased to smurf your acquaintance," the Smurf said with a warm handshake.

The second was a Smurf who wore a green tie and striped vest. "Greetings, my fellow Empath. My name is Tapper Smurf, and I would be happy to smurf you a glass of sarsaparilla ale as well as some friendly advice should you ever be in need of it," that Smurf said.

But as Empath accepted each greeting he received, he noticed that one Smurf among them didn't look like he wanted to be there to greet him. That Smurf stood alone with his arms folded, his face wearing a constant scowl.

Papa Smurf noticed that that Smurf was the only one left who didn't come up to greet Empath. "Grouchy, don't you want to meet Empath?" he asked.

Grouchy just ran off and didn't say anything to either Empath or Papa Smurf.

Empath looked at Papa Smurf as if looking for an explanation, and Papa Smurf shrugged. "That's Grouchy for you. He's a hard Smurf to get to smurf."

Every Smurf at that point called out to Empath and invited him to do something with them, though Empath still couldn't understand their various requests because their speech sounded so polluted with that same word again. He looked to Papa Smurf to find out.

"Why does every Smurf seem to use that one word 'smurf' to mean anything besides who they are?" Empath asked Papa Smurf.

"It is also part of who they are as well as who you are, Empath," Papa Smurf gently answered. "It is the Smurf language, and in time you could smurf exactly what they mean and smurf how to say something in Smurf."

Empath shook his head. "That will not convince this one about what you are assuming he is!"

Papa Smurf sighed, trying not to sound discouraged. "Perhaps a change of clothes might help smurf yourself in a whole new way."

Meanwhile, every Smurf looked at Empath as both he and Papa Smurf walked away. They were all wondering why he was the only Smurf who couldn't understand a word they were saying. But Grouchy wasn't wondering at all. It didn't matter to him if that Smurf understood Smurf or not. He still hated having to greet strangers.


Shortly inside Papa Smurf's house, Empath found himself convinced when the village leader gave him some clothes to change into -- a white cap and a white pair of pants. At first, Empath had a hard time hiding his embarrassment when Papa Smurf saw him in those clothes, looking as if he was savoring the moment at Empath's expense. "This one feels so…underdressed in these clothes, Papa Smurf," he managed to say.

"Well, why don't we see for oursmurfs how you look?" Papa Smurf suggested. "That way you might not feel so undersmurfed."

He led Empath toward a mirror where he saw himself in his own reflection wearing Smurf clothes. In that moment he felt like he was looking at a whole new person -- an Empath forever transformed. He turned around and saw his own stubby blue tail for the first time. He even pinched it briefly to convince himself that it was for real.

"Great Ancestors!" Empath gasped as he looked at himself. "This one truly is...a Smurf! You have made it clear about what this smurf is...but honestly, this smurf doesn't feel like a Smurf!"

"That's where the other Smurfs as well as mysmurf will show you the rest," Papa Smurf said with a smile.

Smurf to Part 2...

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