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Sick Days

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Hotch rubbed his eyes, feeling worse than he had in a long time. It had been hell to get up and make it to the office this morning.

He had gotten up early and taken a shower, hoping that would cool his burning skin down. It worked for about ten minutes before he had to get out and get ready for work. He had struggled to put his suit in this morning, barely having enough energy to tie his tie. He had made it to the office in one piece, hoping that he just needed a cup of coffee. He went to the small kitchenette that was in the corner of the bullpen and brewed himself a fresh pot, pouring himself a cup and leaving it for the rest of the team once they came in.

Hotch was always the first one there, but sometimes he never left. He leaned against the counter and sipped from his mug, the coffee doing exactly the opposite. His stomach churned. He bit his lip, afraid he might double over now and not have the strength to get up. He took a deep breath and forced himself to stand straight. He ran a hand through his hair and slowly made his way to his office, thankful that nobody was in yet. Finally he made it to his desk. He placed the mug on his desk and almost collapsed into his chair. He sighed heavily, his shoulders sagging under the heavy exhaustion he felt. His suit felt as if it were burning his skin. He shrugged off his jacket and hung it over the back of his chair, forcing his focus on the paperwork that sat at his desk.

Rossi was usually the second one in. Today was no different. He walked into the empty bullpen, not at all surprised when he saw the light on in Hotch's office. He thought nothing of it. He dropped his stuff off at his desk and went to the kitchenette for a cup of coffee, finding that Hotch had already brewed some. He shrugged and grabbed a mug, pouring some of the still steaming coffee into his mug. He took a sip and grimaced, spitting out the coffee into the nearby sink.

'Just how much coffee mix did Hotch put into this? How much caffeine did that man need?' He thought as he poured out his mug into the sink, his mouth full of the bitterness of undoubtfully dark coffee. Hotch must have poured half the container of coffee grinds. He shook his head and set the cup in the sink, his mind rolling.

If Hotch needed this much caffeine, it either meant he had been here all night, which wouldn't even make sense to begin with. Rossi had definitely gone in last night and watched Hotch pack up his stuff to head home.

His brow furrowed. He shook his head and dared a look at Hotch's office. The blinds were shut. He decided that he better go check on the leader.

He stepped up to the office and poked his head in. He froze at the sight he saw in front of him.

Aaron Hotchner was ghostly white, his sweat almost visible from the door. He was asleep at his desk, his arms crossed over an open file, his head resting on his arms. The grimace was clear on his face.

Rossi bit his lip lightly. He had never seen Hotch like this in all the years he had known him. He glanced over his shoulder at the elevator watching it open. He stepped into the office and shut the door, knowing that Hotch hated seeing people when he was down.

"Aaron?" He tried lightly, concerned at Hotch's state. When Hotch didn't reply, Rossi stepped up to the desk, getting a closer look at just how bad the younger man looked. "Aaron? You okay?" He asked again. All he received was a tiny groan from the sleeping man.

"Hotch!"

Hotch sat bolt upright in his chair, blinking several times. He spoke no words as he came back to the world. He rubbed his eyes and rested his elbows on his desk, his shoulders sagging. Once his eyes cleared he caught sight of who was in front of him. He sighed heavily, his head pounding with every breath. "What Dave?" He grumbled, looking up at the older man through squinted eyes.

Rossi's eyes were filled with worry. "You okay, Hotch?" He asked quietly, crossing his arms. He knew what Hotch was going to answer with. He just hoped that one time the man would ignore his dignity and let others know of his pain.

Hotch nodded slightly, opening his eyes completely and shooting almost a glare in Rossi's direction. Damn that man. "I'm fine." He said with practiced ease. A lie he had repeated several times.

Rossi didn't look convinced. He reached out, wanting to press the back of his hand against Hotch's forehead. Hotch leaned back in his chair. "Uh...what are you doing?" Hotch's defensive eyes narrowed.

"If you're really fine then this wouldn't bother you." Rossi returned and grabbed onto Hotch's shoulder to hold him in place. He could feel the heat through his thin shirt. He recoiled, shaking his head. "You definitely are not fine." He said, the worry clear on his face and in his voice. "You're burning up."

Hotch knew Rossi would try everything to send him home. Like that would happen. He was stubborn and instead ignored Rossi's concern. "Seriously Dave, I'm fine." His stomach turned as he spoke.

Rossi didn't look impressed. "Hotch you've got a fever and you look like shit. Let me take you home." He offered with a nod, knowing that the other man had no business being here.

His stomach turned again. He felt like he was gonna be sick. He bit his tongue and fought off the urge. Once it disappeared, taking about five seconds, he shook his head. "Dave, please. I'm fine. Let me work."

Rossi rolled his eyes. He looked at his watch. The whole team would be here by now. He crossed his arms and looked down at the pitiful Hotch, unable to stop treating the younger man like a son. "Aaron." He sighed, shaking his head. He knew he wasn't going to get anyway. Hotch was stubborn, but especially in situations like this. Hotch almost never left his office when they weren't working a case. The man was practically glued to his seat even past the working hours. He sighed heavily and left without another word, shutting the door behind him. He looked down in the bullpen and caught sight of all the concerned faces. He offered them a smile, hoping to ease their thoughts.

Reid looked up from the book he had just finished, having started it when he got in this morning. He'd been left alone with it for about twenty minutes before JJ entered the bullpen, announcing their new case and holding up a file.

"Conference room?" She offered, a small smile on her face as Morgon, Reid, and Prentiss stood up and shuffled to the conference room.

Rossi stayed behind. JJ turned to head to Hotch's office. "I got him." He offered, a small smile on his face.

JJ nodded, taking note of the quiet look in his eye. "Is everything alright?"

He nodded. "Yeah, we'll meet everyone in there." JJ nodded and turned on her heels, heading up to the conference room.

Rossi sighed and knocked on Hotch's office door. When a light "come in." was heard, he pushed open the door. He glanced at Hotch, not understanding how someone could look so much worse in just about twenty minutes. Hotch had been signing paperwork, his pen hovering over the page as his hand continued to shake as chills raked his body. Hotch continued to shiver as sweat beaded on his forehead. He had slipped back on his coat having felt cold in the stuffy office.

Rossi tried his best to ignore it, knowing that's what Hotch wanted. He sighed lightly. "JJ's got a case." He said easily, locking his eyes with Hotch's. He easily saw the exhaustion and discomfort. It was impossible to hide. Hotch nodded. "Got it, thanks." He made no move to get up.

Rossi raised an eyebrow. "Uh..now Hotch. We're meeting in the conference room."

Hotch still didn't move. His stomach turned and his head went below the desk as he retched into his trash can. Rossi rushed to his side, kneeling beside the younger man as he vomited into the can. Rossi sighed and turned his head away, lightly rubbing Hotch's back.

Hotch spit into the can, panting lightly as he shook off Rossi's hand. "I'm fine..." he grumbled. Of course now that he emptied the coffee from his stomach he felt much better. That soon ended with another wave of nausea. He grimaced and bit his lip. "You said JJ had a case?" He said quietly as he pushed himself up.

Disbelief shined in Rossi's eye. "Aaron, you cannot be serious right now? You just threw up into your trash can! Are you kidding me?" He couldn't help the edge in his voice.

The man's drive to work over taking care of himself just drove Dave insane. Ever since Haley left with Jack Hotch's work habit had gotten worse. He rarely ate, he rarely slept. Now he was as sick as a damn dog and he still wanted to work.

"Dave, please…stop fussing." Hotch sighed and pushed himself up, leaning on his desk heavily. He swayed slightly, his head pounding.

Rossi shook his head. "I'm taking you home." He left the office with Hotch calling after him.

"Dave, no, what…" He couldn't say anything else, his legs shaking with his weight.

Rossi poked his head into the conference room. "Hey Morgan." He motioned with his head, calling the man out of the room. Morgan raised an eyebrow, but didn't say anything as he followed the older agent out of the conference room, ignoring all of the curious glances from his teammates. Morgan shut the door behind him.

"Whats up Rossi?" He asked quietly.

Rossi shook his head and pointed behind him at Hotch's office. "Don't tell the others, but Hotch's caught the flu or something." He sighed lightly. "And you know him, he's not leaving. I'm dragging him home.

Morgan nodded, knowing how much Hotch hated attention to begin with. He sighed, running a hand over his scalp. "Damn…" He always knew that something like this would happen to Hotch. Especially with his sleep schedule. It was almost nonexistent.

"Can you do that for me?" Rossi asked quietly, noting the concerned eyes on him.

Morgan nodded. "Yeah, I'll find something to tell them." He sighed heavily and shook his head. "You coming back for this case?"

Rossi wasn't sure. He shook his head, "I'll call you. If I need to work from his apartment it's not a big deal. Fax me a file?"

Morgan nodded. "Take care of the boss." With that he slipped back into the conference room, ignoring everybody's eyes. He motioned for JJ to start explaining the case about a serial rapist who got his victims pregnant, forced them to have the baby, before killing them.

Rossi made his way back to Hotch's office where the man had returned to his seat, his head in his hands. Dave turned back around and grabbed his belongings from his desk. He slipped his car keys into his pocket before heading back into Hotch's office. He sighed at the state of the man and quickly cleaned out his trashcan. Thankfully he had seen worse than vomit covered paper.

He turned back to Hotch who had dozed off in his seat. He shook his head and walked over to him, lightly shaking Hotch's shoulder. "Aaron let's go. I'm taking you home."

This time, Aaron didn't fight. He nodded and slowly stood up. "Can you walk?" Rossi asked quietly, which received him a glare. He nodded and matched Hotch's slow pace as he grabbed the younger man's file bag, knowing that if Hotch didn't have something to look at he would drive Rossi up the wall.

Hotch walked slowly, but in front of Rossi as he made his way down the steps. He could feel the eyes on him from the conference room. He dared a look over his shoulder and watched as his team shuffled out of the conference room, stealing glances in his direction. Some of concern, some of pity. He shivered and turned his head back forward and kept walking. His stomach lurched and he couldn't stop himself as he leaned over the bullpen wall and retched nothing but bile onto Rossi's desk.