S&S: HEAD OVER HEELS

When Garth gets a slight cold, he has to be transferred to the Tower and fed antibiotics, which he hates. Dick spends the better part of Saturday morning trying to amuse an increasingly exasperated Garth and is about to resort to hand puppets, when he gets this great idea.

"Did you know that Bruce used to tell me stories?" he asks. "Oh, Alfred made him stop after I started having nightmares, but for a while he did."

"Robbie." Garth sighs. "Go play with Donna. I don't mind."

Poor Garth, all sick and miserable. Well, Bruce's story will perk him right up.

"Hear me out. This is the tale of the mermaid who traded her fishtail for legs to be with the guy she loved."

"Oh boy. I wonder what the moral could possibly be."

Sometimes, Garth's sarcasm isn't all he imagines it to be. Also, he inflects like Chandler Bing.

"Not quite. Listen carefully. Though every step caused her terrible pain, she wouldn't complain and indeed, she could not, as she had also given up her tongue in the bargain."

"Even better," Garth snipes.

"Don't ruin a good story," Dick admonishes him. "Anyway, the guy, who was a prince by the way, thought her legs very nice and became rather fond of them. But he was used to pretty legs being waved in his face and hers? Nothing out of the ordinary."

"Discerning fellow."

"Yeah. The deal was that she had a year to make him love her or she'd die. If he married someone else, she'd also die. I guess there were other circumstances in

which she'd die, but I can't remember them all. "

"A year isn't very long," Garth objects.

"Actually, it's plenty of time to fall in love and the guy did. With someone else. On his wedding night, she got a final chance to save her skin, if she killed him and his bride, she'd live."

"Ouch. I assume she didn't, or there wouldn't be a tale about it."

"Don't be too sure. It was Bruce who told it to me."

"Oh, yes. I almost forgot. So what happened?"

"What do you think? She died. The end."

"That's it?"

"Yep. The thing is, you're supposed to think that her voice mattered. That if she'd been able to tell him all she'd done, he'd have loved her and nobody else. But that isn't true. He would never have loved her, no matter what she did. If he'd known the full measure of her devotion, he would have been embarrassed, even horrified.. He'd have made excuses not to see her anymore. The loss of her voice was another gift, though it didn't appear that way to her."

"That's a terrible story, Robbie."

"Not really. Just…the critical difference between them was love. She left the sea for his sake. It never would have occurred to him to go to the sea for her. Bruce said you could tell from the start what a clusterfuck it was going to be. So, what do you think?"

"I think HC Andersen is spinning in his grave," Garth says. "That, and I have a feeling you're trying to tell me something in one of your, ah, unique ways."

Dick smiles down at him.

"You have great legs, Garth," he says. "Really. I don't tell you that often enough.

FIN