Lucas groaned as he looked around his room. Everything was coated in that sand stuff. "Well," Lucas amended, moving a pile of clothes off a chair, "everything on the surface, anyway." It was still bad enough. If any of this had gotten into his computer….
He cleaned it off first, being as meticulous with that as when he had been applying the hydrophilic finish on the Stinger—both of them. 'Missing a spot' hadn't been an option with that and it wasn't with this, either, if he understood correctly. They had to get as much of the sand as they possibly could.
Dr. Westphalen had told him what the Doctor had said when she'd handed him a pile of rags, and he knew how important it was to clean up, though he didn't really think it was fair that they had to clean up the Doctor's mess while he was off doing…something. Dropping off the fragment somewhere. But he didn't need to be told again that life wasn't fair, and he did have it pretty good aboard seaQuest. He could usually get whatever he wanted from Captain Bridger, at any rate.
The Doctor had told Dr. Westphalen that they needed to clean every inch of seaQuest that they could, even the bits that were difficult to get to. Then, apparently, he'd changed his mind. That didn't sit very well with Lucas. What the heck could the Doctor have meant when he'd told Dr. Westphalen something about having a small concentration of the sand for such a short period of time? SeaQuest may be finished her first tour soon, but they weren't going to retire her. She'd be used again.
There was no reason they wouldn't use her again. Not that he could think of, anyway. She'd cost enough to build, in terms of both time and resources, and she'd proven her worth time and again. So if there was any sand that they couldn't get, it would stick around. It was highly unlikely everything would get cleaned up, even once she did get back to port. Whatever concentration of sand was left on board when they were done would probably stay there.
Some things weren't worth wondering about. Lucas wasn't convinced the Doctor had answered half his questions fully—heck, he wasn't even sure if he'd gotten honest answers, though he couldn't think of any reason the Doctor would lie to him. He probably hadn't. Well, not about anything important. He was a lot more likely to purposely leave stuff out of his response than to lie about it. At least, that's the sort of person he'd seemed to be.
Lucas knew he wasn't the only one with questions, either. The captain may have gotten the most answers out of all of them. He'd probably asked the right questions. It couldn't just be a matter of respect—the Doctor had seemed to respect Dr. Westphalen, too. But she would've asked different things than Captain Bridger, just the same as Commander Keller's questions were different from Krieg's. And everyone on the bridge—had they even had a decent chance to ask any of their questions? The Doctor'd gone off with Dr. Westphalen, leaving the rest of them at the meeting, and then…. By the time he'd returned, things had been moving too quickly to ask questions that weren't directly related to the situation. Even Lucas had recognized that, though that's not to say that he hadn't tried otherwise. He'd even gotten a few partial answers out of the Doctor then, too, when they'd been working on the fragment together.
Satisfied his computer was clean, Lucas threw the rag aside and got onto the Internex. He could finish cleaning later. Right now, he wanted answers. The Doctor may have managed to corrupt his UNIT file, but he'd said he'd left traces. All Lucas had to do was look for them, and then perhaps he'd get some more answers.
It was perhaps half an hour later, while waiting for an atrociously slow page to load—it had been, what, five, ten seconds already?—that Lucas was glancing around his room, trying to figure out how long it would take him to finish cleaning. He thought the prospect dismal, especially since he couldn't call in any favours from Krieg to help him because the supply officer undoubtedly had any of his free time filled with cleaning, too. He looked back at the computer, which was now finally proclaiming that the page couldn't be found and suggesting that he double-check things. No amount of tinkering changed that, so he decided to try following a more solid lead, heading back to the UNIT site and hacking his way in. Just because he couldn't access the Doctor's file, didn't mean he wasn't mentioned anywhere else.
Not ten minutes later, he'd found the file documenting the story the Doctor had been telling him about—the one with the giant robot. It gave him a couple of names to look up. Even if he couldn't track the people down and get their contact information, he could at least figure out connections between them and others and the connection that they all had to the Doctor. He might not get answers, exactly, but he should be able to get a clearer view of the overall picture—providing there was one to be had in the first place.
Traces. This probably wasn't what the Doctor had meant, but it would certainly help. Even if he couldn't get answers directly, it would give him a means to them, and that was a start.
Lucas looked around his room again. He really should get back to work. Bridger wouldn't be happy if he hadn't managed any more than just his computer, and he didn't want to disappoint the captain. The excuse of being a teenager only went so far.
Lucas sighed and grabbed one of the shirts from the pile he'd moved off the chair, intending to use it to pick up more of the sand that coated the window which revealed the aquatube. Something in a plastic case, which undoubtedly had been caught up in his pile of laundry, clattered to the deck.
It was one of those old DVDs. He could tell by the case. Nothing was that big anymore.
Lucas picked it up and opened it. Inside, he found a note. On it was written one word: traces. Lucas grinned, and turned his attention to the DVD. It looked to be in good condition—wasn't even scratched. He could probably figure out a way to play it—the trouble with having the latest technology is that you sometimes had to sacrifice the older stuff—but even if he couldn't, Krieg would probably be able to requisition an old player for him. Whatever it was the Doctor wanted him to find, he'd find a way to see it. And from there…. Well, from there he'd figure out what it meant and see where it led him.
Lucas was fairly sure that the trace the Doctor had left wasn't in the actual movie, though he'd watch it anyway just to be sure. But he'd had some DVDs as a kid, and he knew half the fun was finding all the hidden features on them. If the Doctor had left a trace on a DVD and knew it was there, he'd probably put it there. Lucas didn't know why he'd deliberately leave something behind like that if he kept insisting he hated having so much around, though he might be able to hazard a guess once he found it, or at least once he found some more information on it—for doubtless there would be information on the Internex—but finding that out was just another piece to the puzzle.
It didn't matter that he didn't know what the final picture was or if he would ever be able to get enough pieces to really see it. That wasn't the important part. Looking was the important part—that's where all the learning was, and all the problems and puzzling and thinking and understanding that led to that learning. There was a lot more to be gained in the looking than in the finding, and not just because you didn't find anything unless you looked. It was because you usually came across something you never would have found otherwise in the search for whatever you were really looking for. Even he knew that.
Still. Knowing that wasn't going to get him out of this cleaning, but at least he'd have something to look forward to once he finished, even if it was just the elusive promise of an answer. The promise of a plausible possibility, a likely explanation, a potential solution, or even an impossible but all too true answer—the promise of it was enough to drive the search.
He supposed he was a bit like his father when it came to that.
But he didn't need to think about that now. His father wasn't here, and it wasn't like he could ever tell him about this anyway. And, as much as Lucas wanted to avoid it, he couldn't deny that there was work to be done. A lot of it. When he got done here, the captain would probably get him to crawl through somewhere else to clean up another spot. And he'd do it, too, even if he didn't really want to. Because Bridger would ask, and that was important. And because he was part of this ship and her crew and had to do his part. Because he belonged, and this was part of belonging.
This was his family, almost more so than his real family. This was a family that had stuck together through the good and the bad, who'd shared sufferings of sweltering heat and freezing cold, who'd acted in spite of fear and who'd discovered unimaginable things. Maybe they would be scattered after their first tour, but that didn't matter. Sometimes families did drift apart or change, welcoming new members into their fold. That was normal. It didn't mean their family would be destroyed, that the ties that bound them together would be severed beyond repair. They were family, and they were friends. That's all that really mattered.
A/N: Well, the Doctor didn't really have any use for that authorized control disk from Blink, now did he, especially since its one trip had already been redeemed? Besides, I felt it best to tie up things on the seaQuest end a bit more and get a tiny glimpse at the mess the Doctor's left behind.