Author's note: Well, the end of another story! I just hope that everyone out there enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it and thanks for all of the reviews.
Chapter Eight: Karma
"Hey, sleepy head." Mary greeted with a smile.
"What are you doing here?" a confused Danny wondered, "What about your conference?"
"I came back the minute Sam told me that you were sick." Mary explained, gently rubbing his arm.
"She what?" Danny exclaimed before groaning in frustration. "You told everyone not to bother you unless it was an emergency!"
"I didn't mind." Mary assured, shaking her head. "The conference was really, really boring. So, I just did what you and Greg used to do all the time in junior high: I went to the bathroom and never came back."
"You mean, the trick you always used to scold us for?" Danny reminded with a teasing grin.
"Until today, I never did see the wisdom of it." Mary admitted, returning his smile. "How are you feeling?"
"A bit better." Danny nodded, realizing that he felt a bit stronger and not as achy as before.
"Well, let's get the official word." Mary said, picking up the nearby thermometer. "Open wide."
While they waited for the thermometer to take Danny's temperature, Mary looked at the old, safari suit-clad, stuffed tiger in her hands fondly. Danny could tell that, like himself, the red-haired woman was flashing back to the many hours of play the two had shared in their childhood, playing with that particular toy and a doll that had belonged to Mary.
"Whatever happened to his wife anyway?" Danny asked while the thermometer was still in his mouth.
"No talking." a stern Mary reminded, causing Danny to shrug apologetically. The red-haired woman thought about his question for a moment. "You know, I don't really know. I think Precious is in a box somewhere." A laugh escaped her. "Only in Vegas could a human princess and a world explorer tiger get married!"
"Yeah." Danny laughed in agreement as the thermometer went off. As Mary pulled it out and examine it, a smile appeared on her face.
"99 degrees." she announced, looking down at Danny. "I think that you're officially on the road to recovery."
"Thank God!" Danny sighed in relief.
"Delinda told me that she left some soup in the fridge for you." Mary said, getting up from her seat. "Want to see if you can keep some down?"
"I guess that I could try." Danny replied with a nod.
"Okay." Mary agreed, heading for the door. About halfway, she stopped and looked again at Danny with a puzzled expression. "By the way, what's this big secret you're hiding that Sam said that she'd share with me tomorrow?"
"Oh, my God." a horrified Danny whispered to himself, "She was serious!"
"Glad to see that you're feeling better, man." Mike commented, catching up to Danny as he walked into the Montecito that next morning. The two men were a study in contrast; the bald, African American man had a carefree expression on his face while the ex-Marine had one of determination. "What's going on?"
"Have you seen or heard from Sam today?" Danny asked, knowing that if Mike even snickered, he would have his answer.
"You didn't hear." Mike realized, turning his head towards his friend. "She's avoiding the casino floor and anyplace besides her room as much as possible. She claims to have the migraine from hell."
"Seriously?" a surprised Danny said, stopping in his tracks.
"Yeah." Mike nodded, also pausing. "She's chalking it up to female problems and karma." He shrugged his shoulders. "Although, karma for what, I'm not sure."
"I am." Danny chuckled in response. "Cover for me while I go pay Ms. Marquez a visit?"
"Sure thing." Mike gladly agreed with a grin.
After hearing no response after knocking a few times, Danny finally used his master key to enter Sam's room at the Montecito. Unlike most of the staff, the brown-haired woman lived at the actual hotel since her job was pretty much twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The room was dark as Danny entered and he could hear Sam groan softly from the bed.
"Sam?" he asked, walking over. "Are you awake?"
"Unfortunately." Sam replied, wincing as Danny turned on the bedside lamp. Taking the ice pack off of her forehead, the feisty woman glared at the ex-Marine. "Come to gloat?"
"Gloat?" Danny asked, a bit taken aback. "What are you talking about?"
"I spent the whole night, thinking of how much fun it was going to be to spread that rumor around about you." Sam explained, "And I wake up, feeling like someone's implanted a subwoofer in my head and is cranking the bass up."
"Can't help it if I've apparently got friends in high places." Danny shrugged, sitting down on the edge of the bed. "I just hope that you've learned your lesson."
"You wish." Sam remarked with a laugh. "This is only strengthening my resolve!"
"Then, I guess I've got no choice." Danny replied, feeling lucky that he had the brains to think of a backup plan. "What would you say to a truce?"
"A truce?" a puzzled Sam asked as Danny pulled a picture out of his pocket.
"I'm sure that you'll find this very familiar." Danny grinned, handing the picture over to her. It was of a stuffed, old, well-worn teddy bear sitting against Danny's sofa. Marquez recognized it immediately as the one she had had when she was little.
"How did you…" she asked, looking up at the ex-Marine.
"I have my ways." Danny smiled, taking the picture back. "Anyway, either keep quiet about finding Tugglesworth, or I'll just have to tell everyone that I'm not the only person here who has a strange need to share the bed with something."
While it wouldn't as unusual for a grown woman to still have a stuffed animal around the bed as it would a grown man, it would be quite unusual if it were a woman like Sam Marquez. A woman who had prided herself on being as tough as any of the guys, and one that didn't even have a shred of a heart. Sighing, she looked dejectedly into Danny's eyes.
"All right." she relented, "You win this battle."
"Thank you." Danny smiled, getting up from his seat. "I'll, uh, I'll bring your bear back after I get off work." With a grin, he headed for the door. "Hope you feel better."
"Thanks." Sam said appreciatively as Danny closed the door.
"How did it go?" Mary asked, waiting for Danny out in the hallway.
"I think that we can officially declare Tugglesworth-gate over." Danny sighed in relief.
"Well, what are you going to do if she realizes that that's not her real teddy bear?" a curious Mary inquired as the pair started walking down the hallway. "She's bound to let it all out then."
"And admit that I was able to pull the wool over her eyes?" Danny replied before shaking his head. "Not likely."