(I don't own Profiler nor its characters.)


December 22, 1990

Bailey stared into space, lost in thought. He was trying to piece together the behavioural pattern of a serial killer loose in southern Mississippi. Photos, forensic evidence reports and witness statements were displayed all over his desk. He let his mind drift, opting to not force the insight; sometimes this approach worked, other times it was best to depend on shoe leather.

He remained engrossed in his task before a knock on the open door brought him back to the here and now. Sam Anderson, no, Sam Waters, greeted him with a smile. She'd married Tom Waters a month ago, thereby accounting for Bailey's unvoiced slip. She was carrying her baby girl in her arms. They walked into his office and Bailey stood up to meet them halfway.

"Hey, I thought you were already on holiday?" They exchanged a kiss on the cheek. "Hey, sweetie" Bailey said to the little girl.

"Oh, I am. I forgot my Christmas presents for you and a few others at home yesterday, so I decided to come by real quick today." Chloe was gazing at Bailey curiously. The girl had never been one to shy away in front of strangers, but her obvious fascination with all things Bailey took her demeanour to a whole new level.

"You have time to sit down? Do you want me to take something?" Sam had literally her hands full with Chloe and the three bags she had with her.

"I don't have time to stay, I'm sorry. Someone was a little pain when it came to being a good girl in the car. If you could take the bags from my left hand and hold onto the one that's blue. It contains presents to your family." Sam reached out her left hand and waited while Bailey sorted out the bags.

He took away the designated one and walked over to his desk, where a smaller bag than the one he'd been given awaited. He held it aloft with a sheepish expression. "You weren't the only one," he admitted as Sam let out a brief laugh. "Thank heavens it's smaller. I was about to topple over as it was."

Bailey placed the three bags in her out-stretched hand. "Well, we wouldn't want that, especially with such precious cargo." He addressed his words to Chloe and smiled, and the little girl took on a bashful look and hid her eyes under her little fists, smiling in turn.

"I have to go. See you on the 27th?" Sam started backing towards the door, but her progress was stopped by a whine from the toddler. As the whine didn't repeat itself, she continued her retreating steps. Again, the little girl whined, this time accompanied by a wail: "Bail!"

The word registering in Sam's head, she laughed out loud. "Sounds like someone isn't ready to say goodbye to Uncle Bailey."

"Bail!" the toddler babbled again, encouraged by the repetition she'd just heard in her mother's sentence. The man in question approached the pair.

"Bail, huh? Nice and short. I might just have start calling Uncle Bailey Bail, too." She looked at him pleadingly. "I need to go give presents to Karen and Henry. Do you mind watching her? I'll only be ten minutes."

"I'd love to" he reassured her and reached to take Chloe into his arms. The girl started playing with his shiny tie clip.

"Thanks. I'll be right back" she said, heading out the door. Left alone with her daughter, Bailey sat down on a chair by the wall, not wanting to sit by the desk and expose the little girl to the contents of the case file. He detached the tie clip and let Chloe play with it. She watched it sparkle when the light hit it the right way. She turned it in her hands and chanced a glance at him every now and then.

She was perfectly content to spend ten minutes sitting in his lap and inspecting the shiny object. Bailey watched the little girl, ready to grab the tie clip if it ended up precariously near the girl's eyes or nose. She was well-behaved, and Bailey's thoughts turned to his own daughters. They too had once been this little, this young, this content to sit in their father's lap.

Those days seemed like a lifetime ago. Frances and Arianna were now ten and six years old. Old enough to be aware of the strain in their parents' marriage. He and Janet had separated briefly two years ago, but they'd reconnected before four months had passed. Now, they'd hit another rocky patch. Hopefully the girls would be able to enjoy the holidays.

Sam bustled in again with Bailey deep in thought. "Everything okay? You seem kind of out of it today," she remarked to her friend. Her question had him standing up. "Everything's fine. Just a lot on my mind."

"Oh. If you want to talk..." He acknowledged the offer with a nod. "I hope she wasn't too much trouble?" Shaking his head, he pressed a soft kiss on the toddler's cheek and said: "No, she was a delight."

"Delight, you say? Why do you always put your best foot forward with Uncle Bailey, sorry, Bail?" she asked from the girl, who looked puzzled at the words. "Choosing to remain silent, I see. Shades of your Grandpa Charles." Sam gathered the bags and looked at her mentor. "Walk us to the car?"

"Of course." Bailey carried Chloe to the parking lot, to her immense delight lifting her up and down all the way there. After Sam had buckled Chloe in the safety seat, she hugged her friend goodbye. "Give my love to Janet and the girls."

"I will. Say hi to Tom for me. Merry Christmas."

"Merry Christmas, Bail. You know, I kinda like calling you that." She grinned and climbed into the car. Bailey waved goodbye to Chloe on the back seat and then started towards the Quantico office building. He'd reached the door when Sam drove past him, giving him a little wave and pulling into the mid-morning traffic.