The Cycle

Twenty-seven hours, nineteen minutes and six seconds since he's slept in a bed.

Twelve days, three hours, seven minutes and fifteen seconds since he's been home.

Nineteen days, thirteen hours and thirty-four minutes since he's smiled.

Twenty-six days, five hours and forty-three minutes since he's seen his son.

They've barely been back in Quantico half a day, and already they're flying out again. He's ready. His go-bag is packed. He's in work mode.

Of course, there aren't really any other modes.

Not anymore.

He doesn't sleep on the plane. He can't – not when he knows that there's an unsub out there to be caught, a killer to be stopped. Instead, he reads over the files, runs the profile down with the team.

The team.

If any of them were to do what he was doing – what he is doing – he would reprimand them for it. Tell them to go home, get some sleep. Take a few days off. He's had to do that a few times in the last few weeks. It seems he's a bigger role model than he ever thought.

He's tired, worn out. But he's got nothing else left.

Almost nothing.

The closest thing he's had to a vacation is the three days he took driving from Lower Canaan back to Quantico. Even then, he'd taken some case files, penciled notes in the margins so he could re-evaluate when he finally returned to the office. Lying back in the hard, lumpy motel bed drinking Bourbon from the minibar, all he could think about was which scumbag they would be heading after next.

On the jet now, he's ordering Rossi and Prentiss to the crime scene, Reid and JJ to the police station, Morgan to the morgue. He'll talk to the victim's family himself. He won't admit it to himself, but he's gotten to the point where he's taking every death personally; each victim that he fails to save is another strike on his record. It doesn't matter that they haven't even gotten there yet.

They solve the case.

They always solve the case. He can't recall the last time they didn't solve the case. It doesn't give him hope, it just makes him feel all the more upset at the cases they haven't caught up to yet.

He goes home for the first time in almost two weeks, and he sleeps in his own bed. In the morning, he calls Haley; it's a Saturday, so he'll drive over to Fairfax and spend the day with his son.

Thirty-six seconds since he's smiled.

And then the cycle starts again.

A/N: Got bored, so I wrote this. I don't often write Hotch, so I'm not sure if I nailed him properly. Pun not intended.