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Happy Birthday Captain

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Leaning over the tiny sink in the head, Trip determinedly splashed another handful of ice cold water on his face, as if the shock of it could scrub away the years. Were those lines around his eyes? He blinked blearily at his reflection in the mirror. Why hadn't he seen them before?

Trip sighed as he backed away from the mirror and fumbled around for a towel. Couldn’t he just call in sick today? Or call in old? At that thought he smirked and rolled his eyes at himself. He had no business calling himself old. He wasn’t even officially to the current halfway mark of a Human lifespan.

He stepped out of the head, suddenly chagrined at his bout with self-pity. There were at least a half a dozen people who would give him a hard time for even thinking he was old, including one Denobulan and several Vulcans.

Stopping at his desk, he let out a puff of breath. Problem was, he just felt old. And tired. The last four years - hell, the entire last decade - had been hard for the fledgling Federation.

First there was that war-not-war conflict with the Romulans, and the ever-present feel that it wasn’t really over, treaty or no treaty. Not even the last ten years could shake that feeling. Then last week they’d received word that Starfleet was officially designating the USS Franklin as lost, presumed destroyed. It’d been eight years since the Franklin had disappeared near the Gagarin Radiation Belt but a lot of the crew had held out hope it’d be found. Coming on the heels of the fourth anniversary of the USS Essex’s disappearance, it’d created a somber mood.

He shook his head. What this crew needs right now is something to celebrate. And that meant he had to stop feeling sorry for himself. Starting now.

He sat down heavily at his terminal, refreshing the mailbox and watched as the messages slowly filled the screen. Most were from Starfleet headquarters - if that third one was Commodore Stiles he was tempted to say it’d been lost in subspace - a few were simply addressed from Earth. One from Ireland. Another from Mississippi. New York? Jon must be back from Andoria if he was in New York. And one from Vulcan. He smiled a little at that one.

He’d save the personal messages for later and deal with the Starfleet communiqués now. With a stretch and a groan he shoved his chair back from the desk. Coffee first.