"Muscles' Departure"

It was about 100 years before Empath's final return from Psychelia, when Empath's fellow Smurfs were still children and were suffering the loss of their parents to an unknown disease, that Papa Smurf was left alone with his friend Muscles Smurf as the last two adult Smurfs alive. But the disease did not spare Muscles from the same fate, as Papa Smurf saw that his friend's body was starting to weaken. Muscles continued to work despite the pain he was suffering until his body just couldn't hold up under the strain he was putting it through. With Muscles finally put to bed and given medicines to make him feel more comfortable, Papa Smurf sat beside him and talked about the times they had together in order to comfort each other.
It was near the time of Muscles' death, and Hefty and Handy were with him during his final hours. Grouchy chose not to be present because he hated his father so much for how he treated him, which made Muscles feel disappointed in that all his sons couldn't be together to see him one last time.
"You two are the best boys that I ever had the pleasure of smurfing into the world," Muscles said. "Hefty, I know that you'll be strong and that you'll lead your fellow Smurfs as a good Smurf should, but don't forget about your brother Handy. He can help you smurf things that you alone cannot. Look out for one another, and look out for your brother Grouchy. I regret that I didn't love him as much as I should have."
"Papa, I only wish you didn't have to smurf away," Handy said with a tear in his eye.
"Don't cry for me, Handy," Muscles said. "I have done my part to smurf you as the best builder in the village, and I know you will keep this village from smurfing apart even after I'm gone. I couldn't leave this village in much better hands than in yours and Hefty's. Teach your fellow Smurfs everything that I have smurfed you. They must learn how to build and to fix and to repair things so you don't have to smurf all the work."
"Papa, I'm sorry for what I have smurfed to Sassette," Hefty said. "I only wish I haven't smurfed all those nasty words to her."
"As long as you learn from that that being a male Smurf is only half of what being a true Smurf is all about," Muscles said. "Do not worry, for I will get to smurf her in the smurfy hereafter, along with your Mama Smurf and all the others who have smurfed on before us. Just be obedient and faithful to your Uncle Cully, because he will be your Papa Smurf from now on."
"We will, Papa," Handy said. "We won't let you or Uncle Cully down."
Muscles smiled at the both of them, proud that they will take his final words to heart. "And now I would want to be alone with your Uncle Cully," Muscles said.
"I love you, Papa," Hefty and Handy both said together before they left the room and Papa Smurf approached the bed.
"They're such fine boys, I only wish that they were mine," Papa Smurf said before laughing at the realization that they would soon become his own.
"I believe your wish is going to be granted, Cully," Muscles said. "I just wanted to say I'm sorry for ever smurfing the worst of you when you lost your child Empathy years ago."
"It's still my fault that he died, Muscles," Papa Smurf said. "I can't ever forgive myself for that."
"You're smurfing a much bigger family now, and one that you'll be the only Papa Smurf for, Cully," Muscles said. "If you will care them as much as you would for Empathy had he still lived, then Empathy would not have died in vain."
"You're the last friend among my fellow Smurfs that I ever have to smurf goodbye to," Papa Smurf said.
"As long as goodbye doesn't mean that we won't smurf each other again, Cully," Muscles said. "I am proud to have smurfed you as a friend, even if you weren't the strongest like me and Angus. I know...that you will survive to watch the Smurflings grow into adult Smurfs...that you will find mates for them somewhere, someday...that they will not be...the last generation of...the Smurfs..."
Papa Smurf watched as Muscles breathed his last before he closed his eyes and fell into permanent rest. He touched his friend's hands and felt that they have become cold and lifeless, that all of Muscles' strength has left him completely.

Some days later, after Papa Smurf had announced that he would become Papa Smurf instead of Uncle Cully, the body of Muscles Smurf was laid to rest in the memorial park alongside his wife Paprika. Vanity showed his respects for the couple by placing a beautiful bouquet of flowers near their grave markers.
Papa Smurf noticed that Hefty, normally the strongest among his fellow Smurfs, was crying. "My papa said I shouldn't be crying for him, Papa Smurf...but I just can't help feeling that now he's gone, and our whole world's going to be different because we only have you now," Hefty said.
"We will all miss him as well the others who have smurfed your fellow Smurfs into the world, Hefty," Papa Smurf said as he rested a hand on Hefty's shoulders. "And yes, the world will be different now, but as long as you're willing to work to make the village smurf together as one, then his spirit will still smurf on inside of you."
"Papa never told us which one of us he liked better, Hefty," Handy said.
"I can still see that he liked me the best of all, Handy," Hefty said.
"Oh, great...after he passes away, that's all you can ever think about, that his love is all about you," Handy said.
"You're still the second-born, Handy," Hefty said. "Nothing in the world is going to change that."
"In case you haven't figured it out, Hefty, we're still twins, and being the second-born as a twin doesn't mean second-best," Handy said.
"Your Papa Smurf loved you both equally for your special talents and abilities, Hefty and Handy," Papa Smurf said to them both. "Arguing about which of you he loved the most isn't going to solve anything."
"Well, which of us will you love the most, Papa Smurf?" Hefty asked.
"This isn't a contest of which Smurf among your generation I will have as my favorite, Hefty," Papa Smurf said. "All of you are very special to me in your own unique way, and I believe all of you will someday contribute something special to the growth of our community."
"That's going to be a tall order with about 95 other Smurfs you're going to have to smurf for, Papa Smurf," Handy said.
"This is why we are a family, Handy, and why I consider you all my little Smurfs," Papa Smurf said.

Sometime later at night, Grouchy paid a visit to Papa Smurf's house. "What is it, my little Grouchy?" he asked.
"I'm sorry that I couldn't stand smurfing at my father's funeral, Papa Smurf, but I really hated him," Grouchy said.
"I'm sorry for the way you feel about him, Grouchy," Papa Smurf said.
"Are you going to treat me the way that he did, Papa Smurf?" Grouchy asked.
"Of course not, Grouchy," Papa Smurf said. "You and all your fellow Smurfs are now family. That doesn't mean that we won't have problems trying to smurf together, but I will smurf my best to keep you from feeling like you don't matter."
"That's an easy thing to smurf, because my brothers Hefty and Handy always smurfed first place in my father's life," Grouchy said.
"They are very important Smurfs, but that doesn't mean that you have no place of importance among your fellow Smurfs or among me, Grouchy," Papa Smurf said. "I'm sure that someday you'll smurf your place in this village, if you just smurf yourself a chance."
"I only wish my brothers were never born, Papa Smurf," Grouchy said.
"That's an unfortunate thing we have to smurf with, Grouchy, that we don't get to smurf our family members," Papa Smurf said.
"But are you going to pass away anytime soon, Papa Smurf?" Grouchy asked.
"It smurfs like I'm going to be here to stay, Grouchy," Papa Smurf said. "And as long as I'm still smurfing, I'm going to be your Papa Smurf from now on. If there's anything you want or need, you can always ask me for it."
"I hate to do this, but I feel like I don't have a choice," Grouchy said. He leaped into Papa Smurf's lap and hugged him with tears in his eyes.
"Just remember, Grouchy, that I will always love you," Papa Smurf said as he comforted the young Smurf in his arms.

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