Chapter 18

The village looked like it did when the Smurfs left it to confront Gargamel as a group and destroy the Gauntlets of Gantharros -- houses in various states of damage or completely destroyed; overturned trees and rocks blocking off sections of the village; the water well and the windmill still bearing the brunt of all their previous encounters with human and non-human invaders. The Smurfs were disgruntled over the fact that they had to go and fix up everything Gargamel had callously demolished in his attack. Fortunately, Empath was there to use his minds-eye for removing the rocks and trees, though the other Smurfs refused to allow Empath use anything more than his own physical power to help them put everything else back in order. As grateful as they were to have had Empath lead them into a victorious battle against Gargamel, they didn't want to be further indebted to him by having him do everything else for them, even if he could do them faster and better than any Smurf. Even Papa Smurf refused Empath's offer to repair his laboratory, since he already had his assistant Brainy and his friend Clumsy helping with that.
Fortunately, the Smurflings didn't refuse Empath, even though their treestump playhouse was the least damaged. The roof and chimney were the only things that needed fixing, and Empath put his efforts into doing both. He also asked the Smurflings for their help, which they provided even as they watched him floating high above their heads putting part of their house back together.
Otherwise, Empath put his efforts into fixing staircases, walkways, and other little things that didn't necessarily need immediate fixing but did anyway. The last thing he did, and what Smurfette saw him do, was reassemble the statue of himself that he had destroyed...only Empath didn't recreate the original image. Instead, by reducing the rubble to a fine powder and then mixing it into a thick gluelike substance with Handy's bag of cement, Empath refashioned it into two Smurf-shaped forms -- one that resembled Empath, the other resembling Papa Smurf.
"I thought you didn't want the other Smurfs to smurf you like you were some idol to be worshipped, Empath," Smurfette commented as she watched Empath put the finishing touches to his creation and use his minds-eye to harden it into a solid form.
"This smurf didn't, Smurfette," Empath answered. "It's just that this smurf thought this place could use something that could stand right along with the other Smurfs instead of above them all day. Besides, this smurf didn't like how my likeness looked in the first was somebody else's vision of this smurf, all cold and lifeless. This is how this smurf wants to be seen."
Smurfette looked at the statue and saw the image of Empath now warm and smiling, one arm around the shoulder of the image of Papa Smurf, also warm and smiling, and the other arm extended out into empty space. Both of them also appeared to be wearing shirts. She was impressed.
"Sculptor and Painter would definitely envy the artist behind this statue," Smurfette remarked, smiling at Empath. Then she noticed that Empath was sweating, as if he finally did something that drained him physically of his energy. She suggested that he should take a break, and he accepted.
"I'm only wondering how you were able to oversmurf Gargamel the way you smurfed him with that minds-eye of yours," Smurfette asked as they walked around the outskirts of the village.
"Normally, this smurf wouldn't have been able to enter his mind because he is human, and with the Gauntlets of Gantharros protecting him, this smurf was unable to use any form of telekinesis against him," Empath replied. "But this smurf did learn something that this smurf believes the Psyche Master did before he left the Smurf Village to become the Psyche Master. This smurf is also able to harness the mental energies of this smurf's fellow Smurfs in a mindlink to increase the strength of this smurf's own abilities. It was this 'strength in numbers' that allowed this smurf -- or rather, all of us Smurfs -- to enter Gargamel's mind and defeat him from within."
"Gee, I had no idea that this Psyche Master was actually a Smurf to begin with," Smurfette said with some disbelief.
"This smurf wouldn't have believed it, either," Empath agreed. "He tried to take over the entire village years ago before Papa Smurf was even born, through this same mindlink. It failed only because his fellow Smurfs weren't cooperative and ended up resisting his efforts, banishing him into the forest where he created his own race of beings who would be easy for him to control through a mindlink and would also have a minds-eye."
"But the Psyche Master wasn't able to control you when you were smurfed there, was he?" Smurfette guessed.
"You are correct, Smurfette," Empath answered. "He must have realized that this smurf was too much his equal and feared that this smurf would wrest control of the Psyches away from him. He had to erase every memory this smurf had of being a Smurf when this smurf was an infant to even hope that this smurf would submit to his will. He succeeded in doing so up until this smurf had learned and accepted who this smurf was all along."
"And what you were, Empath, he could never change," Smurfette finished that thought for him. "Still...I just wonder if you've completely forgiven Papa Smurf for what he has smurfed to you, even if you could undersmurf what his reasons were for smurfing so."
"This smurf could understand a little better of what he and my Mama Smurf had gone through back then, something they and their fellow Smurfs and the ones before them had feared would happen again, that would make Papa Smurf send me away to Psychelia," Empath responded. "This smurf still can't forget what Papa Smurf has done to me...but this smurf can't hold that fault against him forever. He is the only real parent this smurf has in my life right now."
"Well, I guess there's only thing left to do," Smurfette added, feeling relieved to hear Empath resolving his differences with Papa Smurf. "How about smurfing me on a trip to Neverland this evening, if you have nothing to smurf you busy."
"Neverland?" Empath asked, almost caught off guard. He looked into Smurfette's eyes and saw that she was hinting at something.
Then he had a feeling he knew what it was -- Smurfette must have seen him and the Smurflings flying around the village a few days after his birthday, acting like he was Smurfling Pan and they were his Lost Smurflings. She was asking him to take her on a flight around the village -- or better yet, around the forest and maybe even beyond.
"This smurf would be honored, Smurfette," Empath replied. "Just keep your window open and wait for this smurf to appear."
"I'll be waiting...with tinkerbells on," Smurfette reminded Empath with a smile that was meant only for him.
Empath watched as Smurfette headed in the direction of her own house. He felt such a happiness and an excitement that he had never felt before with any Smurf -- even visiting the Smurf Village for the first time paled in comparison. He headed back to the center of the village with some bounce in his steps, eager for the moment of pleasing Smurfette that evening.
Some of his fellow Smurfs, Tapper being one of them, watched Empath walking past them in this fashion, looking much like how they themselves must have looked whenever Smurfette asked for their personal attention.
"Smurfs like Empath's got himsmurf a date with Smurfette," one of them said.
"More like Smurfette's found somebody she wants to smurf steady with," the other responded.
"You mean she only wants Empath? No way!"
"Hard to believe, isn't it? A beautiful girl Smurf like her who couldn't decide which Smurf she would want to smurf with now chooses a Smurf like him."
"Well, it just makes me wish I was in his smurfs right now!" the first one said with a wistful sigh. "He's truly a lucky Smurf."
"Nobody calls Empath the luckiest Smurf for nothing!"

Smurfette was in what was left of her bedroom, using a piece of her shattered vanity mirror to make sure she looked her best as she brushed her hair, when she saw Empath waiting for her on her balcony with a bouquet of wild flowers in hand.
Smurfette went to the balcony to greet Empath, flattered by the attention he was giving her. "Oh, Empath," she blushed as she accepted the flowers. "You didn't have to smurf this for me…not that the flowers aren't beautiful!"
"This smurf wanted to help make your house beautiful again, Smurfette, just like you," Empath told her as she put the wild flowers in an unused vase.
"I hope you don't mind how I smurf," Smurfette wondered, feeling a bit self-conscious about her appearance. "With everything still a mess, I'm surprised I still smurf a change of clothes in my closet!"
"You look beautiful just as you are, Smurfette," Empath assured her. "You do not need anything more to wear. Are you ready for your first flight over the Smurf forest?"
"What do I need to do?" Smurfette asked as she joined Empath by the balcony.
"You need only to hold onto this smurf's hand," Empath told her. "This smurf will do the rest."
Smurfette held onto Empath's hand as tightly as she could, and soon she found herself lifting high off her balcony, until she and Empath were at least several feet off the ground. She gasped as she looked down at her house, and then at the whole village as they sailed higher.
"I can't believe this!" Smurfette cried out, a bit fearful but also excited.
"It's as real as this smurf is flying beside you," Empath reminded her. They flew high above the trees, and Smurfette was startled by the sight of the entire forest from where she was right now. Somehow, flying with Empath was much different than flying with a stork or even with her invisible orange horse friend Blue Eyes from another world. She felt as free as a bird.
"But how high can you really fly?" Smurfette asked. "As high as the moon up in the sky?"
"Let's find out together," Empath answered. With Smurfette holding onto Empath's hand, they zoomed off toward the moon in the sky, passing through whatever clouds were in their way, until they stopped and saw the moon looming big in the night sky, free of any clouds blocking its view. Smurfette felt her heart racing up until that moment, and then it almost skipped a beat.
"Oh, Empath, it's so beautiful to smurf at," Smurfette commented as she saw the face of the moon shining down toward them. "How high are we, anyway?"
"About thousands of feet from the ground, Smurfette," Empath answered. "This smurf has never tried flying any higher than this, and this smurf isn't sure about trying to go beyond this point, since the Smurfs and the Psyches both believe that there's nothing that can exist out there among the stars. But from here, the moon above and everything else below is just breathtaking."
Smurfette felt drawn closer to Empath as she continued to stare at the moon, dazzled by its beauty. "I just wish other Smurfs could experience this feeling of being able to fly by themsmurfs," she sighed as she held onto his shoulder. "You must be happy smurfing up here all the time, Empath."
"Well, not all the time, Smurfette," Empath admitted. "But whenever this smurf does have the chance to do so, it makes this smurf feel more alive and happy to be as free as a bird."
Smurfette noticed that Empath's expression had somehow changed. "What's wrong, Empath?" she asked. "You don't smurf as if you are truly happy smurfing up here with just me. Did I smurf anything wrong?"
"No, Smurfette," Empath calmly replied. "It isn't you. There's something else this smurf meant to do while this smurf has the chance to do so."
As they flew back downward and returned to the Smurf Village, Smurfette noticed that they stopped at a graveyard where Empath had a bouquet of roses wrapped up in one of Papa Smurf's red hats placed at the marker of a Lillithina Smurfette, whom Smurfette now knew was Empath's mother…and Brainy's mother as well.
"This smurf knows that I wasn't the child you always wanted, Mama Smurf," Empath spoke sadly to the grave-laden Smurf, "but at the very least, you helped make Papa Smurf very happy. And though he broke your heart with what he had smurfed with me, this smurf wants you to know that I have forgiven him, and I forgive you as well. If only this smurf could have known you when you were alive, you could hear what this smurf had to say to you."
"Empath, wherever your mother is right now, I have a feeling that she smurfed everything you told her and knows you mean well," Smurfette chimed in, leading Empath's gaze away from the grave marker. "She might have smurfed you into this world, but I don't think she can ever love you the same way that Papa Smurf, your fellow Smurfs, and myself can."
"Then she is truly gone from this world, never to be a part of this smurf's life again," Empath muttered.
Smurfette nodded, gently holding Empath's face. "She is part of the past now, Empath, as is your life being smurfed away from us. I want you to live with us in the present, because there's no other Smurf I want to share tomorrow with than you."
With that, Smurfette pulled Empath closer and kissed him full on the mouth.
The kiss seemed to last forever, and when it ended, Empath felt like he didn't want it to end, for it was such a wonderful feeling, even more wonderful than when she first kissed him on the cheek. It made Empath realize that Smurfette would always be there for him, no matter what happened, and that she would always love him. It made Empath feel that he loved Smurfette as well.
"Great Ancestors!" Empath whispered. "This smurf wants to live and share that same tomorrow with you, Smurfette."
He gently took Smurfette in his arms and kissed her on the mouth. It was a kiss that this time felt like it had lasted forever for them both.
Meanwhile, Papa Smurf went strolling around the outskirts of the village after every Smurf had gone to sleep and saw Empath and Smurfette near his former wife's grave marker, kissing each other. He recoiled when he saw that this was no ordinary kiss that Smurfette was giving Empath. It was the type of kiss he recognized as the one that foretold their future…that these two Smurfs were meant to someday become soulmates for the rest of their lives.
"Well, I'll be smurfed!" he finally said, chuckling and smiling to himself. "It smurfs that my role as Empath's teacher in the ways of the Smurfs has been passed on to another, and it smurfs like they will have a whole lifetime to smurf from each other."
He made sure this one happy moment was never disturbed.