A short while later, Empath was left guarding the tavern by himself while Tapper went in to check on Grouchy and see if there was anything that he wanted. At that point, Brainy and Hefty were just passing by.
"Well, I didn't think the star-faced showoff would be smurfing the role of the bouncer at Tapper's Tavern, especially when it's closed," Hefty said with some amusement.
"Say, Empath, what are you doing here on Hug-A-Smurf Day all by yourself?" Brainy asked.
"Yeah, and where's Grouchy?" Hefty asked. "I haven't smurfed him around the village."
"Grouchy is currently safe and unavailable right at this moment, my fellow Smurfs," Empath answered.
"You're not trying to keep Grouchy from being hugged on Hug-A-Smurf Day, are you?" Brainy asked.
"Knowing Empath, that's probably what he's smurfing," Hefty said.
"Tapper officially made his tavern a No Hug Zone today," Empath explained, "so unless you have some important business in it, this smurf would suggest that you two would move along peacefully."
"You mean the tavern is off-limits, right?" Hefty asked.
"That isn't fair, Empath," Brainy said. "This is Hug-A-Smurf Day, and Smurfs should be able to hug whoever they want to whenever they want to on this day. Papa Smurf isn't going to like this one bit."
"How long do you think you're going to keep other Smurfs out of the tavern just to protect Grouchy, Empath?" Hefty asked.
"It will take this smurf all day just to make sure that Grouchy is safe from the hug-muggers, Hefty," Empath answered.
"Oh, really, Empath?" Brainy said with some disbelief. "I bet Jokey is probably smurfing on some way to smurf past your security."
"Let's not smurf that prankster any ideas, Brainy," Hefty said.
"Jokey is welcome to try getting past this smurf, Brainy, though I highly doubt that he will succeed," Empath said.
"We might as well get going, Brainy, if Empath isn't going to let us smurf Grouchy a hug," Hefty said.
"Patience, Hefty, a little patience," Brainy said. "After all, it is Hug-A-Smurf Day, and I haven't smurfed my hug with Empath." He then gave Empath a hug. "You don't know how much this means to me to smurf my own half-brother a hug."
"This smurf appreciates the sentiment, Brainy," Empath said. "How about you, Hefty?"
Hefty looked rather reluctant as he pondered the question. "Well...okay, but don't think this means that we're friends or anything."
"This smurf understands and respects that, Hefty," Empath said, giving Hefty a hug. "At least you can't say that this smurf hasn't hugged you today."
"Time to find other Smurfs that we haven't hugged yet," Hefty said after Empath let go. "Have fun smurfing the bodyguard, Empath."
Tapper came out after Hefty and Brainy had left. "So has there been anyone wanting to smurf Grouchy a hug while you were out here?" he asked.
"There were just Hefty and Brainy, that's all," Empath said. "This smurf had sent them peacefully along to find some other Smurf to hug. How's Grouchy doing in there by himself?"
"I can see he's been occupying himself smurfing the pinball game, Empath, and getting pretty good at it," Tapper said. "He just smurfed himself to a glass of smurfberry seltzer, which will keep him satisfied until lunch comes."
"You have Greedy delivering a lunch to your tavern for Grouchy, Tapper?" Empath asked.
"I asked him in advance to smurf this, and though he didn't like the idea of the No Hug Zone, he at least will respect it," Tapper answered. "He also knows that you and I will be smurfing an eye on Grouchy today, so this is where we will be eating lunch as well."
"You certainly thought the plan of this whole day through, Tapper," Empath said.
"I try to be just like you, Empath, and always be one smurf ahead of everything," Tapper said. "I may not have your mental abilities, but I like the idea of knowing that I can smurf everything under control and make sure that every detail is smurfed care of."
"Sometimes this smurf just likes not knowing what's going to happen in the next moment, Tapper," Empath said. "Having a sense of knowing what can happen tends to ruin a lot of surprises."
"Aye, but all the same, it will keep you alert and focused...something I'm sure you had need of when you were smurfing your turn as a novice guard in Psychelia," Tapper said.
"This smurf never liked having to stand guard all day and night anywhere, Tapper, but this smurf at least appreciates what this smurf has learned as a guard, and how important a job it is for the safety and protection of others," Empath said. "This smurf would hate the idea of having to need guards to protect a place like the Smurf Village."
"That's the price we need to pay for our freedom, Empath," Tapper said. "I wouldn't want to see Smurf Village be smurfed into a fortress to keep anyone out, but I do see where that may be necessary if that time smurfs. I can only pray to the Almighty for our overall safety during that dark time to smurf."
Just then Reporter appeared. "I have smurfed that this tavern has been smurfed off limits to the Smurfs on Hug-A-Smurf Day because you are trying to keep Grouchy from being hugged, is that correct?" he asked.
"That is correct, Reporter, and this smurf and Tapper will be standing guard to make sure our friend here is safe and protected from anyone who wants to hug him," Empath asked.
"But may I ask why you're smurfing this?" Reporter asked. "Is it because you're both in protest of the day and what it smurfs for?"
"I am not smurfing this because I want to smurf any kind of message, my fellow Reporter," Tapper said. "I am only smurfing this because I care about Grouchy and I don't want his feelings to be hurt."
"Hmmm, sounds interesting," Reporter said, writing the response in his notebook. "And what about you, Empath? Are you in protest of Hug-A-Smurf Day?"
"This smurf believes that we as Smurfs should be free to express ourselves however we want to and not be discriminated for our expressions, Reporter," Empath said. "If anyone doesn't want to be hugged, they should have the right to not be hugged unless it's consensual."
"Only consensual hugs on Hug-A-Smurf Day?" Reporter said. "That would make a good deal of Smurfs unhappy if they have to ask somebody to hug them."
"This smurf understands that there will be Smurfs who will not like having to ask to hug somebody, Reporter," Empath said. "But this smurf also understands what it's like to not want to be touched, and this smurf wishes that more Smurfs would understand that same feeling for themselves."
"It's your opinion, Empath, but it's worth smurfing mention about," Reporter said, writing it down on his notebook. "Anyway, since neither of you will let anyone else enter the tavern, I might as well smurf along and see if there's anything else newsworthy to smurf about."
"If this means anything to you, Reporter, just know that I still love you and so does Tapper," Empath said, giving Reporter a hug.
"You've always been a friend to me, and a constant source of news, Empath," Reporter said, smiling as he also received a hug from Tapper.
After Reporter left, Tapper asked Empath, "Do you think we're really smurfing other Smurfs away from Grouchy because we're in protest of Hug-A-Smurf Day?"
"Whatever your reasons are for doing this, Tapper, it's still bound to attract the idea that it is in essence a protest," Empath said. "Personally, having a day that allows other Smurfs to disrespect another Smurf's feelings when it comes to sharing their feelings is just as invasive as having the Psyche Master constantly probing this smurf's mind when this smurf was in Psychelia."
"And I for one am grateful that you have not smurfed after the manner of the Psyche Master when it comes to smurfing your abilities to read other Smurf's thoughts, Empath," Tapper said. "It's just that I feel hurt when Grouchy has to smurf through this day because he doesn't like hugs, and though my heart breaks because he won't ever want a hug from me, I want to still show how much I care for him just as the Almighty cares for him and for everyone."
"Does this Almighty of yours actually hug anyone, Tapper?" Empath asked.
"He is very gentle when it comes to smurfing with the lonely and the broken, Empath," Tapper said. "He is always reaching out to us, hoping that we will smurf His hand and let Him guide us in the way that He wants us to smurf. I know that for all the times I have cried, He records every tear and writes them in His book."
"This smurf knows Grouchy cries a lot, and this smurf senses that those are the times he wishes that somebody was with him to share how he feels," Empath said.
"And I for one would want to be that Smurf to smurf him the comfort he desires, Empath," Tapper said. "But alas, he never once asked me for a hug. And I can't smurf him one if he doesn't want anyone to hug him. I do pray that the Almighty will smurf into his heart and comfort him in those times of need."
"That makes this smurf feel lonely for Polaris, Tapper," Empath said. "It's almost been a year since this smurf had any contact with him in Psychelia. This smurf wishes there is a way that this smurf can contact him and let him know how this smurf is doing, but the Psyche Master is always monitoring the thought patterns of every Psyche and won't let any outside telepathic messages get through to anyone in Psychelia."
"I feel sorry for you and your friend there, Empath," Tapper said. "I can only pray for the Almighty's hand to smurf with this situation of you smurfing without your friend."
Around lunchtime, Greedy delivered a basket of mushroom pate sandwiches with cole slaw and potato chips for the three Smurfs at the tavern. They sat inside the tavern together eating the food, with Grouchy at least being grateful even if he didn't like what was on the menu. Empath sensed that Grouchy did get a really high score on the pinball machine, which made him feel glad and almost desiring to share the news with every Smurf if it weren't for the fact that Grouchy hated boasting.
Then came a knock on the door of the tavern. "Special package delivery for Tapper Smurf," the voice of Courier Smurf announced from the other side of the door.
"A package?" Tapper said, curious. "Who would be smurfing a package to me on Hug-A-Smurf Day?"
"This smurf will see what the package is, Tapper," Empath said, getting up from the table to go outside and answer the package call.
"There was no address as far as where the package smurfed from, Empath, but it was delivered with specific instructions for it to be smurfed to this tavern today," Courier explained as he showed the package.
"This package feels rather heavy, Courier," Empath said as he took the package from Courier.
"That's what I noticed about it, Empath, but if the sender wanted Tapper to smurf the package, then I'm certainly going to deliver it to him no matter what," Courier said.
"This smurf will make sure that Tapper receives the package, Courier," Empath said. "This smurf appreciates your delivery of it."
"Before I go, there is one thing you need to smurf me," Courier said.
Empath sensed what Courier wanted. "Oh, how forgetful of this smurf," he said, putting down the package to give Courier a hug. "Happy Hug-A-Smurf Day to you."
"Thank you, Empath...you really smurfened my day," Courier said, smiling before he left.
Empath picked up the package again and sensed something inside it that made him take notice. "Okay, Jokey, the game is up...come out of that package right now!"
"Aw, gee, Empath, you just ruined my joke," Jokey groaned as he burst out of the package. "I thought I would have Tapper fooled so I can smurf a hug with Grouchy."
"But you didn't think that this smurf would be at the tavern watching for anything that would come into the tavern on Hug-A-Smurf Day, did you?" Empath said.
"It's not fair, Empath," Jokey said. "No Smurf should ever be kept from another Smurf on Hug-A-Smurf Day. Even if I'm such a pain in the smurf, I just want to show Grouchy how much I care for him."
"You can start showing how much you care for Grouchy by going away from the tavern while he is still inside it, with this smurf and Tapper watching over him, Jokey," Empath said.
Jokey sighed, realizing that he wasn't going to win. "At least you can't say I didn't try. I'll have to smurf him some other time if he ever wants one."
"Don't feel too bad about it, Jokey," Empath said. "This smurf still appreciates your humor and knows that you don't always mean to hurt other Smurfs with your humor. How about a hug before you go?"
"Sure, Empath, for you, anytime," Jokey said as they embraced. "Of course, you should be hugging Smurfette a bit more today, if you know what I mean."
Empath gave Jokey a knowing look. "This smurf does know what you mean, Jokey. Enjoy the rest of your day."
After Jokey left, Empath went back inside. "So what was in the package that Courier had smurfed, Empath?" Tapper asked.
"It was just Jokey sending himself through the mail, hoping that he would sneak into the tavern and give Grouchy a hug," Empath said. "Fortunately this smurf sensed that he was in the package and got him out of there really quick."
"That Jokey thinks he's so clever, isn't he?" Tapper snorted, smiling at the thought of his prank being foiled. "That was one surprise package that I'm glad you have managed to desmurf before it exploded in here."
"I hate surprise packages," Grouchy said.
"Don't worry about it, Grouchy," Empath said. "Me and Tapper are still watching out for you. No Smurf is going to get past us to give you a hug when you don't want one."