Part 3

Empath watched with Traveler as his counterpart in this alternate timeline was placed back in Psychelia. "Great Ancestors, Traveler...that is a terrible thing that would have happened to this smurf," Empath said with a great deal of disbelief in his voice.
"This one would have to agree with you on that, Empath," Traveler said. "This one does not see how things will be better from this point onward."
"Let's see what happens in the Smurf Village after this smurf has been returned to Psychelia," Empath requested.
Traveler took Empath a little further ahead into the following morning, where in the Smurf Village Papa Smurf had awakened and saw on his doorstep Empath's backpack with a note attached to it. The note read: "To Papa Smurf: it is my regret that your son will no longer be able to return to the Smurf Village. He will forever remain in Psychelia to be trained in the manner of the Psyche Master. From the Psyche Master."
Hefty was just passing by Papa Smurf's house on his morning jog when he saw Papa Smurf reading the note that was left with Empath's clothes. He could see that Papa Smurf was getting really upset from what he was reading. "Of all the unsmurfy things to...who does that Psyche Master think that he..."
"What's the problem, Papa Smurf?" Hefty asked, sounding curious.
"It's the smurfed Psyche Master," Papa Smurf answered quite angrily. "He smurfed back on his promise to me that Empath would be released from Psychelia upon his 150th smurfday, and now he has the smurfs to say that Empath isn't going to be smurfing back to the village anymore."
"That sounds terrible, Papa Smurf," Hefty said. "What do you intend to smurf about it?"
"I wish there was something I could smurf about it, but I'm not going to endanger the entire Smurf Village just to rescue Empath from the Psyche Master," Papa Smurf said. "As much as I don't like having to smurf this, I'm afraid that the assistant leader position will now be yours from this day on."
"I'm sorry to hear that, Papa Smurf," Hefty said. "I wish I could smurf something to make Smurfette feel better once she smurfs the news, but I don't think it will make it any easier if it's smurfing from me."
"I'll smurf the entire village this news, just so we can all share in the grief we may be feeling from this smurf of events, Hefty," Papa Smurf said. "But however Smurfette may feel after this, be very careful with trying to comfort her. She may not be ready to accept what you may be smurfing her knowing that Empath is gone."
Hefty nodded. "I understand, Papa Smurf."

As Empath and Traveler watched together, Papa Smurf shared the news that Empath will no longer return with the entire Smurf Village, which made most of the other Smurfs upset and angry knowing that this will be the last they will ever see of Empath. Smurfette broke into tears and ran off, while some others started sobbing greatly, including Grouchy, who didn't like the thought of never seeing Empath again. Tapper comforted his fellow Smurfs in his tavern the best that he knew how, but even his heart felt rather heavy with the painful realization that he had lost a good friend. Duncan shaved his sideburns and mourned for the loss of his friend at the memorial park where Empath's statue used to be before it was destroyed, planting a sword next to the new statue of Empath which had Empath's name engraved on the handle. He opened a bottle of the finest sarsaparilla ale he had on hand and poured some on the ground to honor Empath before taking a drink himself. "Rest well, my brother Smurf," he said to the new statue before he arose and left the park.
Some days later, Hefty was overseeing the activities in the Smurf Village in the same manner that Empath once had in the assistant leader position, when Narrator approached him carrying Baby Smurf. "Ah, there you are, Hefty," Narrator said. "I was hoping to smurf you down so I could smurf to you."
"No problem, Narrator," Hefty said. "By the way, where's Smurfette?"
"That's what I was hoping to smurf to you about," Narrator said. "Now I don't mind taking care of Baby Smurf, but over the past few days, even Baby Smurf is beginning to wonder where she is. Most of what I know is that she's last been smurfing with Duncan, and though I'm not sure why she would be smurfing her time with him, I'm starting to worry that she may be smurfing something very unsmurfy."
"Maybe she's just angry and Gutsy is just helping her smurf out all her anger by training her or something," Hefty suggested.
"You may be right, Hefty, but all the same, I think that you should go and smurf with her about what she's smurfing," Narrator said.
Hefty decided that he would go and talk with Smurfette, to find out why she's spending most of her time with Duncan. He found her out near the edge of the village wearing workout clothes, punching and kicking a training bag that was set up hanging from a tree, working up a sweat. Hefty saw a fierce determination in Smurfette's eyes that he had hardly ever seen in her before.
"Smurfette, are you all right?" Hefty politely asked as he approached her. But he got no response from Smurfette, as her mind was completely focused on her hitting the training bag with all the fury built up inside her. He went up and gently grabbed her by the arm. "Smurfette, will you please--"
Smurfette suddenly turned around and delivered a powerful roundhouse kick that knocked Hefty on his back. She then saw who it was that she had kicked. "Oh, I'm so sorry, Hefty, I didn't mean to smurf that," she apologized.
"Don't worry about that, Smurfette...I've been smurfed by far worse than you," Hefty said as he picked himself up from the ground. "I just smurfed by because I was wondering what was smurfing on with you that you would no longer be smurfing care of Baby Smurf and all that."
"I'm just so angry at the Psyche Master for smurfing Empath away from me like that, Hefty, and I wish that there was something that I could do to smurf him back to me," Smurfette said. "I didn't think it would take losing Empath to make me ever think of smurfing up exercises and learning to fight smurf-to-smurf."
Hefty noticed something. "So that explains the heart tattoo that you're now smurfing on your arms, Smurfette. For a moment there I was thinking that you were smurfing that for another reason."
"That I was ever going to fall in love with you, Hefty?" Smurfette asked. "My heart is smurfed, and I can't really think of smurfing in love with anybody else now. All I really want now is to be like you, so I would never be the helpless damsel that I used to be."
"I never thought of you as being entirely helpless, Smurfette," Hefty said. "But if wanting to smurf like me is going to make you happy with yourself again, then I would be willing to help you be that type of Smurf."
"You would, Hefty?" Smurfette asked. "I didn't think you would like me to smurf anything besides who and what I am before now."
"Maybe this is just to help you smurf over losing Empath, I don't know," Hefty said. "But if you're really serious about this, I could help smurf you with some routines that you might find useful in smurfing yourself in great shape...well, for a Smurfette, that is."
"I don't care how hard you push me, Hefty," Smurfette said. "I feel that I need to smurf myself to the utmost and be the Smurf who isn't going to be a pushover or a helpless damsel."
Hefty thought about this for a minute. Then he said, "I'll do this for you, Smurfette...though I'll understand if you decide to smurf out of the program for whatever reason."
Smurfette smiled. "You really think that I have what it smurfs to become a strong Smurf like you, Hefty?"
"A strong Smurfette, more likely, if that kick you smurfed me is any indication," Hefty said.

And so as Traveler and Empath watched in the timeline unfolding, Hefty helped Smurfette train herself so that she would not have to rely upon anyone to defend her. Every day Hefty put her through a rigorous routine of exercises that made her fellow Smurfs wonder what she was doing to herself. Duncan also helped her by teaching various types of fighting moves that she could use upon anyone that would dare try to directly assault her. Empath was surprised to see how determined Smurfette became in her desire to become as strong as she could possibly be and even admired her for it, though it came at the price of losing somebody she came to love dearly.
However, some of the other Smurfs didn't exactly approve of Smurfette taking on this new route for herself. They even told Papa Smurf about how they feel seeing Smurfette going through all this training while leaving behind the Smurfette they all came to know and love.
"Smurfette is smurfing her best to deal with the loss of Empath, my little Smurfs," Papa Smurf answered. "Maybe what she's doing will help her smurf past her pain and suffering, and she will smurf back to the things she used to smurf. All we can do is just smurf her time and let what she's doing smurf its course."
One day Tapper found Smurfette carrying Baby Smurf on a backpack while she was out running, and she had stopped outside his tavern. "Do you have any Vita-Juice that I can smurf a glass of, Tapper?" she asked nicely. "I could sure smurf some right now."
"Aye, I can smurf you a glass of it right now, my dear Smurfette," Tapper said. He went inside the tavern to fetch a glass and fill it with the juice. "I wouldn't expect any Smurf besides Hefty to be smurfing it on a regular basis, since he's the only Smurf who seems to like it."
Smurfette received the glass of juice from Tapper when he came back out and took a good swallow. "Aaaah, that really smurfs the right spot," she said as she wiped her mouth with the back of her hand after the swallow.
"I'm glad to see that you're smurfing an interest in being healthy and active, Smurfette, but I feel in my spirit that you still smurf so empty because Empath is no longer in your life," Tapper commented. "You think that all this exercise and training to be one of the best fighters among the Smurfs is going to replace what you have lost?"
"Sometimes I just wish Empath had never smurfed into my life to begin with, because it's so hard to smurf him out of it right now," Smurfette said.
"Great Smurfiny Crickets! I could only hope you're not seriously thinking of smurfing back every good memory that Empath had smurfed you," Tapper said.
"Empath smurfed me so much to hope for, even for myself, and then it's all suddenly smurfed to pieces because of the Psyche Master, Tapper," Smurfette said. "I don't blame him for that, but who else can I smurf to now that he's gone?"
"If you're smurfing a tattoo just like the one Hefty is smurfing, Smurfette, you may have answered your own question," Tapper said.
"I'm only smurfing to Hefty because he's a friend," Smurfette said.
"Perhaps, but smurfing the same tattoo is more of a sign that you're looking for something much more from Hefty than just friendship at this time," Tapper said. "This is just speculation smurfing from me, but I can only hope that you'll find what you're smurfing for if that's who you wish to identify yourself with."
"You wouldn't understand how I feel towards Hefty right now, Tapper, even if I could understand it," Smurfette said, sounding like she didn't want to get into an argument with Tapper over what he was suggesting. She took another long swallow of the Vita-Juice and handed the empty glass back to him. "Anyway, thanks for the refreshment. I'll smurf you again sometime later."
"Smurf care of yourself, my dear Smurfette," Tapper said as he watched her run off.

Sometime later in Hefty's gym, Hefty and Smurfette were sparring with each other in the training ring while Tuffy was monitoring the both of them, holding a pocket watch as he was timing how long the bout would last. So far Smurfette was holding her own against Hefty, who didn't like the idea of even fighting Smurfette, but wasn't going to disappoint her if she wanted him to teach her how to be strong and to fight well. The Smurflings were sitting on the sidelines watching the bout taking place, with Snappy and Nat rooting for Hefty and Sassette and Slouchy rooting for Smurfette.
Then Hefty managed to catch Smurfette off-guard and pin her down on the mat, knocking the wind out of her. "Give up yet, Smurfette?" Hefty asked.
Smurfette responded by sweeping her leg and knocking Hefty down to the mat as well. "I guess that makes us even then," Smurfette said.
"Time's up," Tuffy announced before the two contestants in the training ring picked themselves up from the mat.
"You're smurfing out to be a pretty girl fighter...I mean a pretty good fighter, Smurfette," Hefty said as they both climbed out of the ring together.
"I still wish I could have smurfed something to stop the Psyches from taking Empath, though," Smurfette said.
"I know how you feel, but we can't smurf back into the past now and try to change things," Hefty said. "If Empath wanted you to be happy no matter how things smurf out between the two of you, don't you think you deserve to smurf yourself happy with another Smurf who will always make you happy?"
"I'll never stop thinking of how brave and strong he was, Hefty, of how he would smurf anything to make sure that I'm happy," Smurfette said.
"I'm not asking you to stop thinking of him, Smurfette," Hefty said, looking her straight in the eyes. "I just want you to know that I will always be there for you, even if you'll never love me in return for it."
"I never said that I didn't love you, Hefty," Smurfette said. "Over the past several days, there's no Smurf that I feel much closer to now than you."
And with that, Smurfette kissed Hefty on the mouth, which made the Smurflings go "Ooooh" when they saw it happen.
"You sure you want to do that...not that I don't feel the same for you?" Hefty asked when the kiss had ended.
"Maybe I feel too strongly for you too soon," Smurfette said with a sigh as she looked away.
"You know I can't replace Empath, Smurfette, but if you truly feel this strongly for me, you shouldn't be afraid of smurfing how you feel," Hefty said as he turned her face back towards him. "I'm not going to smurf anything to you that's ever going to hurt you, and that's a promise."
"Cross your heart and hope to smurf?" Smurfette asked.
"Cross both my hearts," Hefty said as he pulled her close to him and kissed her on the mouth again.