|Preamble to the United States Constitution: We the
People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice,
insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare,
and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and
establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Amendment IV: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Special thanks to Jane and Iris for proofing this story and offering valuable editorial input.
The Drug Courier Profile is a "profile" the courts have allowed drug agents to come up with in order to give them reasonable suspicion with which to stop a person and ask to search him or her. Within the borders of the U.S., the search may be refused, but agents may be able to confiscate the suspect's luggage. At the border, courts have carved out the infamous "Border Exception". Under this exception, agents can detain and search a person, and they may even perform body cavity searches. A Thomas Jefferson School of Law student was detained and subjected to a vaginal search when she tried to cross the border to get back into the U.S. She supposedly fit the drug courier profile. She was clean, of course.
A recently published book listed all the characteristics
that have been claimed to fit the drug courier profile:
buying a ticket with large bills; buying a ticket with small bills; being the first to leave the plane; being the last to leave the plane; leaving the plane in the middle; carrying a duffel bag; carrying an oversized garment bag; carrying several bags; carrying only one bag; being particularly protective of one's bag; distancing oneself from one's luggage; leaving the airport by taxi; leaving the airport by a ride; leaving the airport in a rented car; making eye contact with agents; refusing to make eye contact with agents; making a phone call after deboarding; pretending to make a phone call after deboarding; dressing casually; wearing excessive jewelry... and so on.
We the People...
Agent Samuel Greene took great pride in his work. He could always spot them. Young. Old. Male. Female. It didn't matter. They all shared one thing in common: drugs.
And there's one now. His eyes tracked the long-haired man emerging from the gate with a backpack slung over his shoulder and a blue duffel bag in his hand. He was the first one off the plane. Must be eager to get somewhere. He watched the young man approach the customs line. A young female agent in uniform stood several feet ahead of the hippie, checking a man's bag. The agent looked up, caught the hippie's eye and gave him a critical once-over. The hippie smiled and nodded, shifting on his feet. Nervous, kid? I wonder why...
Greene had seen enough. He snatched the radio off his belt and opened the line. "Johnson. Greene here. Terminal B. I've got a mark just about to go through customs."
The radio cackled to life. "Got it. Back-up's on the way."
Blair Sandburg bounced on his toes. Man, he was buzzed. He hadn't slept in over twenty-four hours, and he'd been traveling for over sixteen hours straight. He had one more plane to catch to Cascade, and then it was home-sweet-home!
My bed. Just give me my bed. Man, when I get home, I'm sleeping 'til Tuesday. Jim's managed without me for two weeks. I think he can go another two days.
He caught movement out of the corner of his eye and spotted three large men approaching him. Two of the men wore brown uniforms. The third man wore dockers and a grey jacket, but he screamed cop! All three men had their eyes focused on him and were set on an intercept course.
Blair groaned inwardly. Oh man! I do not believe this. They are not coming... Oh man, yes they are. What did I do now? Let me guess, I look like a drug dealer, right? One of these days, I'm just going to get it over with and cut my hair!
The three men stopped a foot away from him, and the plain-clothed officer spoke. "Excuse me, sir. Would you come with us, please?"
Blair tightened his grip on his duffel bag. "What's this about?"
"We just want to ask you a few questions," one of the uniforms said, grabbing his elbow.
Blair allowed the large man to pull him from the line and steer him away from the crowd. "Hey, where are we going? What's this about?"
"What's your name?" the plain-clothed guy asked.
"Blair Sandburg. Yours?"
"Agent Samuel Greene. Where are you heading? Your final destination?"
"Cascade, Washington. Look man, I can save you a lot of trouble. If you think I'm carrying drugs, just check my bags, but please make it fast. My flight leaves in forty minutes."
Agent Greene raised his eyebrows, staring at the young man critically. "Who said anything about drugs, Mr. Sandburg? Are you carrying drugs?" He steered Blair toward a door marked "Authorized Personnel Only."
"No! I'm not carrying drugs," he protested. "But I doubt you're interested in discussing the Yanomamo marriage ceremony."
Greene opened the door, throwing Blair a quizzical look. "What?"
Blair sighed. "Never mind!"
Greene steered Blair into the small, windowless room. Cabinets lined one wall, and a vinyl examination table stood in the center. Blair swallowed, his heart slamming into overdrive.
"Hey, man, what's going on here?"
The agent closed the door. The two uniformed officers took positions on either side of Blair, each man towering a good foot over him.
"Johnson, go get one of the medics," Greene told one of the uniforms, then leveled a hard look at Blair. "Please strip, Mr. Sandburg."
Three hours later...
Blair staggered out of the room, his backpack hanging off one shoulder and his duffel bag clutched in his left hand.
"Sorry, Mr. Sandburg. Thank you for your cooperation," Greene said.
Blair didn't bother looking at the man. Cooperation? Like I had a choice. He felt sick, and his eyes scanned the airport, looking for a restroom sign. He spotted one several feet away and waddled forward. His intestines cramped, sending a spike of pain through him, and he doubled over, falling onto one knee.
Breath. Just breath. He clenched his eyes shut, waiting for the pain to pass. After several seconds the cramps died, and the nausea flared with a vengeance. He struggled to his feet and ran clumsily toward the bathroom. Inside, the second stall was empty, and he threw himself into it, falling over the basin just as his stomach revolted.
The flight was misery. Blair couldn't find a comfortable position. Sitting hurt. The plane's motion and occasional turbulence kept him on the edge of nausea, and if they hadn't pumped his stomach back at the airport, he was sure he'd have thrown up several times already.
He shivered, shifting in his seat and pulling his jacket tighter around his frame. Leaning his head against the window, he gazed at the drifting clouds below the plane. Two more hours and I'll be back home. He closed his eyes, and immediately flashed on that small white room and the cold examination table. His heart thundered and his eyes shot open. A violent tremor coursed through his body, and he wrapped his arms around his torso in an attempt to minimize his shivering.
He'd never been strip searched before. Standing buck naked in front of drug agents and a medic had been humiliating enough, but being forced to lay on the table and let them invade his body had been hell. He'd never thought that something like that could happen, not in the United States. He'd tried to protest, but Agent Greene had said something about the "Border Rule" and forced him on the table. He'd been flushed out, which was degrading enough, but he hadn't expected the tube. That had hurt.
A drop of sweat snaked down the back of his neck, and he suddenly felt hot. Unwrapping his arms, he shrugged out of the jacket, bunching the leather into a ball and tucking it between his head and the window. He took several deep breaths, willing himself calm.
Jim's gonna freak. Because of the search, he'd missed his flight. He'd called the loft, but the machine had picked up. He'd left a message, then dialed Jim's cell phone, but the voice mail had answered. He'd left another brief message, hoping that Jim got one of them before heading to the airport.
At least I didn't have to stay overnight. That was something. Luckily, the nice clerk had found him a seat on another flight, and he'd only had to wait three hours for it to arrive. Yep. That's me. Lucky.
Where the hell is he? The last passenger exited the gate terminal, and Jim extended his hearing, searching for signs of Blair. He found none. Glancing at his watch, he whipped out his cell phone. There'd better be a message from you, Chief, so help me...
Sure enough, there was a message. Blair's voice sounded strained and tired.
"Jim. It's Blair. Sorry. I missed my flight. Long story. I'm now scheduled to arrive on Flight 1134 at 8 p.m., same airline. Sorry, man. I hope you can still pick me up, but if you can't, don't worry about it. If I don't see you, I'll just grab a cab. Bye."
Jim frowned. The kid sounded exhausted, sick. Damnit, Chief, don't tell me you caught some exotic bug. I told you not to drink the water. He sighed, dropping his cell phone back into his pocket. It had been a long week, and the last thing he wanted was a sick, grumpy, tired Blair puttering around the loft.
A pang of guilt twisted in his chest at that thought. God knows the kid has taken care of me enough times. Never complains. A small smile touched his lips. Okay, Chief, if you're sick, you're sick. But I don't want any crap from you when I tell you to eat your soup and go to bed.
He glanced at his watch again. Blair's plane wouldn't land for several hours. He had plenty of time to go home, hop in the shower, and make something to eat.
Blair did not feel well. The cramps had settled to a constant ache, and his head throbbed. The temperature seemed to fluctuate between freezing and baking. If he took his jacket off, he was cold. If he put it on, he was too hot. Nothing he did alleviated any of the discomfort, and sitting in the cramped seat just made everything worse. All he wanted was to get home and drop into bed.
Twenty minutes passed, seeming like an hour. Finally, the plane made its final descent. The wheels touched down, jarring the plane. The impact sent quick slices of pain through Blair's gut. He gritted his teeth against the pain, silently cursing Agent Greene and his men. He hadn't done anything. He hadn't acted suspicious. He hadn't resisted. They had no right, despite their claims, to do what they did.
Standing took too much energy. He waited in his seat for the plane to empty. An elderly lady with a small suitcase shuffled past Blair, the last passenger. With a tired sigh, he rose from his seat, grabbing onto the back of the seat in front of him to hoist himself to his feet.
He swung his backpack over his shoulder and reached up into the overhead compartment. Moving the duffel bag proved painful, but he managed. The weight of the bag seemed to have doubled since he last packed it, and he had a hard time carrying it out of the plane. Each step sent a small sliver of pain through his gut, and he resisted the temptation to hold his breath, knowing that would only make the pain worse. Breath. Just Breath. Relax. He didn't know what was causing the pain, but with the enema and the tube, he figured they'd managed to bruise him. He really didn't look forward to explaining to Jim what had happened, so he focused on taking slow, even steps. He was just too tired to deal with the twenty questions he knew would result if Jim found out that he'd been subjected to a full body cavity search. Tomorrow, maybe, I'll tell him. If I'm up to it.
He emerged from the tunnel leading into the airport, and immediately spotted Jim and Simon a few feet to the right. Jim looked a bit concerned, his brow furrowed in an expression that told Blair the Sentinel was listening to his heartbeat and respiration. Simon looked mildly impatient, but otherwise relaxed.
"Hey, Chief," Jim greeted, walking up to him. "How are you doing? You feeling okay? You didn't sound too good on the phone."
He swallowed, shrugging. "Yeah. Just tired." He looked at Simon, forcing a smile. "Hey, Simon. How are you doing?"
"Hungry," the captain growled, but his smile betrayed him. "You in the mood to catch a bite too eat?"
No. Definitely not. Food is not in the picture right now. Blair looked back and forth between the two men, catching Jim's hopeful expression. His shoulders sagged with defeat, and he gave into a slow nod. "Yeah, sure. I'm not really hungry, but I'll go with you."
Jim frowned, placing a hand on Blair's elbow. "You sure, Chief? We can just go home if you're not up to it. I was gonna eat at the loft, anyway, but Simon stopped by to see how your trip went. I told him about the delay and he opted to come with me. Figured we'd both hear all about it over dinner, but only if you're hungry."
"No, it's fine, Jim," he replied. "Really."
"Great!" Simon said. "Let's get out of here, then."
Blair obligingly followed as Simon led the way toward the exit. Jim walked behind him, and Blair could almost feel the larger man breathing down his neck.
"How was your trip?" Jim asked. "And why'd you miss your original flight?"
"Yeah, what trouble did you get yourself into, Sandburg?" Simon asked with a chuckle, giving the young man an affectionate pat on the shoulder.
Blair couldn't stop the hiss of pain that escaped, and his eyes darted to the Sentinel to see if he'd heard. He groaned inwardly when he saw Jim's quizzical look. Of course he heard. He's a Sentinel.
"You okay, Chief?" He hurried ahead, then bent down and grabbed the duffel bag from Blair's hand. "Let me carry this one for you."
Blair nodded, not quite able to hide the limp now that the pain had flared to a higher level. Jim's eyes scanned him from head to toe, his jaw tightening with each passing second. Finally, he placed a hand on Blair's forehead.
"Hey, Jim, come on." He tilted away from the Sentinel, breaking the contact. "Not now, man. Stop the mother hen act, please."
Jim raised an eyebrow. "You're running a fever, Sandburg. How long have you been sick?"
Blair shook his head, his shoulders slumping. "Look, man, I promise to tell you all about it tomorrow. Right now, I just don't have the energy. Okay?"
Jim hesitated a moment, his eyes critical. Finally, he nodded. "Okay, Chief. Tomorrow." He placed a gentle hand on Blair's shoulder and steered him toward the doors. "We'll skip dinner. Get you to bed."
"No man. It's okay. I don't wanna ruin your plans." He regretted the words as soon as they left his mouth. He really wanted to go home and sleep, but Simon had come all the way to the airport with Jim, and the whole thing was just such a mess that he didn't want to impose on either of them anymore than he already had.
"It's okay, Sandburg," Simon interjected. "You look like you need the rest, kid."
Blair nodded. "Thanks, Simon."
Jim stopped the truck at the light, casting an anxious glance at the young man hunched against the window. Blair looked pale, and beads of sweat lined his forehead. The Sentinel glanced at Simon, catching the captain's concerned, quizzical look. His dark gaze conveyed a silent question that Jim read easily. What's wrong with the kid?
Something was obviously wrong, that much was certain. Blair looked more than sick. He looked sullen, withdrawn. He sat motionless in the seat, his arms wrapped around his stomach, almost folded into himself. His head rested against the window, and he stared blankly outside, seemingly oblivious to his surroundings.
The honk of a horn jarred Jim from his thoughts, and his eyes darted to the light in the intersection. Seeing it had turned green, he hit the accelerator. The truck rolled only a few feet when Blair stirred suddenly.
"Stop the car, Jim!"
"What?" His foot pressed gently down on the brake even as he pulled the vehicle over to the curb.
Blair didn't wait for the truck to reach a complete stop. He popped the lock and opened the door, leaning out and heaving violently. He would have fallen out if not for his seat belt.
Damnit. Jim unbuckled his seat belt and hopped out of the car, trotting to Blair's side. He'd just reached the young man when Blair popped his seat belt and fell forward. Jim lunged just as Simon's hand closed around Blair's arm, stopping his descent.
"Okay, Chief, what's wrong?" Jim asked, throwing a quick, grateful look at his captain. Gently, he eased his partner to the ground. "You're scaring me here, buddy."
Blair curled up on his side, his arms wrapped tightly around his stomach. "Oh man, Jim," he groaned. "It hurts. I think they did something to me. Something's wrong."
Jim's nostril's flared, and he looked up at Simon, seeing that the words registered with the captain just the same. "... they did something to me."
He looked back down at Blair, his throat tightening at the sight of his partner in such obvious pain. "Easy, Blair." He didn't know how to help the young man because he had absolutely no idea what was wrong with him. He settled for placing one hand on Blair's shoulder. He felt the tremors beneath his palm, and the heat pouring off Blair's body indicated that the fever had risen another few degrees. "Who? Who did something to you?"
Blair clenched his eyes shut, turning his face into the pavement. "C-Customs. They thought I had drugs." His body tightened as another wave of pain hit, and he gritted his teeth, releasing a low moan.
Jim clenched his jaw so tight that his gums hurt, but he barely registered the pain. Things were beginning to fall into place. He looked back up at Simon, seeing realization in the older man's eyes as well.
Turning his attention back to Blair, he placed his palm against Blair's cheek, and leaned closer to his partner. "Shhh, Chief. Just go with it. Ride it out."
After a few seconds, Blair relaxed visibly, but the shivers persisted.
"What did Customs do?" Jim prodded.
Blair took a deep breath, opening his eyes to look up at the Sentinel. "T-They searched me. Everywhere, man. They pumped my stomach." He closed his eyes again, tight, as if willing the memory away. "They even --" he gritted his teeth against another cramp. "Oh man, Jim. It hurts."
Jim made his decision. He looked up at Simon. "Help me get him up, sir. We're taking him to the hospital."
"NO!" Blair yelled, scrambling under the truck.
Jim looked down in surprise, shocked to see the wild horror in his friend's eyes. "Blair?" he kept his voice low, soft, hoping it would have a calming effect. "Come on. We've got to get you some medical attention." He suspected they'd punctured Blair's colon, which likely meant surgery. It also meant that the kid had a raging infection and needed prompt medical help.
He extended his hand, but Blair wedged himself further beneath the truck, shaking his head violently. "No, man. No, please. Not again, man. I can't go through that again, Jim. Please."
Jim's heart sank. He glanced worriedly up at Simon, his brow creased with confusion. He hadn't expected such an intense reaction from Blair. Had something more happened? Or was the fever making him semi-delirious?
He ducked his head, peering under the truck. "Blair." He extended his hand again, slowly. "I promise no one will hurt you, but we've got to get you to the hospital."
"Jim." Simon's soft voice caught his attention, and he looked up at the captain.
Banks leaned forward, closer to the Sentinel. "You and I are military. He's not. Think about it," he spoke softly, low enough so Blair wouldn't hear. "He was taken into a room, told to strip, and then subjected to a full body cavity search. He couldn't have expected that, probably didn't know what they were doing until they did it. To top it off, one of the idiots messed up, hurt him. What could he do about it? Nothing. His body was invaded on a very personal level, against his consent. What does that sound like?"
Jim rocked back on his heels, hitting his tailbone against the pavement. Simon's explanation hit him like a punch to the gut. How could he have missed it? As a special forces operative, he'd become familiar with body cavity searches, both on the giving and receiving end . They had never been pleasant, but they'd never left him traumatized. But then, he'd known what to expect. They'd explained the procedures to him, and he knew it was all part of the covert ops deal. Blair hadn't been expecting it, couldn't have known how far they would go. Hell, he must have been terrified -- isolated in a room while strangers stuck tubes down his throat and up his rectum.
The rage started slowly, blossoming in his chest like a mushroom cloud, and expanding until it blocked out all rational thought.
"Jim?" A hand on his shoulder shook him. "Come on, Ellison, snap out of it."
He blinked, staring up at his captain. "Sir?"
"You okay, Jim?"
He clenched a fist. "Yes, sir." Slowly, he lowered his head, his gaze falling on the frightened young man under the truck. When he spoke, the gentleness of his voice surprised even him. "Blair, listen to me. You're going to take my hand, and then you and I are going to the hospital. I'll stay with you the whole time. No one will do anything you don't want. Okay, buddy? Trust me here, Chief."
Jim's soft plea seemed to break through Blair's fear, because the young man slowly began to uncurl, moving from his protected position beneath the truck to take Jim's hand.
"That's it, Blair," Jim encouraged, his fingers closing around the young man's hand. "Everything's going to be okay."
He pulled Blair closer to him, wrapping an arm around the smaller man's shoulders. Blair still trembled, but Jim suspected it was out of pain and exhaustion rather than fear. The heat pouring off the young man revived Jim's suspicions that Blair's reaction was at least partly due to the fever, which seemed to have risen another notch. That fact alone alarmed Jim. It had only been a few minutes since he'd last gauged the kid's temperature. The fever seemed to be raging out of control, and he estimated it at one hundred and four.
He looked up at Simon. "Damn, sir. He's burning up. We've got to move."
"Let's go, then." Banks scooted out of the truck and helped the detective carefully lift the young man into the seat.
Jim paced the hallway, his back rigid and his fists clenched. When I find out who those bastards are, I'll kill them. I'll fucking kill them.
"Jim, calm down," Simon urged. "We'll deal with this after Sandburg's released."
Jim stopped his pacing and forced himself to take several deep breaths. He had one ear tuned to the surgery, listening to the doctor's mindless chitchat as he repaired the damage those asshole agents had caused. When he got his hands on them...
"Jim, you're not zoning, are you?"
The Sentinel looked at the captain, biting back a retort. No, he wasn't zoning. Why was it every time he stood still for two seconds the man automatically assumed he was zoning? Jesus!
"I'm fine, sir. Just listening."
Apparently, Simon recognized the dangerous quality in Jim's voice, because he leveled a critical look at the detective, then pulled out his cell phone.
"Okay, Jim, we'll do this now."
Jim straightened. "Sir?"
"I'm going to call the airport and backtrack. Find out who searched Sandburg. Get their names. Then I'm going to raise a whole lot of hell."
A slow, calculating smile formed on Jim's lips, and a dangerous glint touched his eyes. "Thank you, sir."
When Blair opened his eyes, he was given to a moment of panic at the strange, sterile surroundings. White walls. Fluorescent lights... Hospital.
Jim. He turned his head toward the voice and saw Jim sitting in a chair next to the bed. Relief flooded his body, and he closed his eyes, sagging into the mattress.
A hand touched his shoulder. "Hey. It's okay, Chief."
He swallowed. His throat hurt. The tube. They had pumped his stomach. God, that was an experience he didn't ever want to repeat.
"Can I go home?" he croaked.
It was all he wanted in the world at the moment. How long ago had he left Mexico? He had no idea, but it seemed like years ago.
"Soon," Jim replied.
Now. He really wanted out. The whiteness was getting to him. The IV in his arm was getting to him. Just being in a hospital was really getting to him. He'd had enough of strangers touching him, poking him, putting tubes in his body. More than enough. Too much.
He shook his head. "Please, Jim. Now. I really just want to get out of here."
"It's not my call, Chief," the detective replied.
Blair struggled to sit up, but a sharp pain in his lower intestine stopped him, eliciting a small gasp that provoked a frown out of the Sentinel.
"Blair..." Jim warned.
"It's my call," Blair panted. "You said if I came here, no one would do anything I didn't want them to do. Now I want out."
Surprise flickered over Jim's features. "You remember that?"
He nodded. Unfortunately. "Yeah." Definitely not one of my better moments. "Sorry about freaking out and all."
"It's okay, Chief." Jim rose from his chair and gave Blair a gentle pat on the elbow. "I'll get the doctor, see what he says about you leaving."
Jim opened the loft door and placed a hand on Blair's back, gently guiding him inside.
"You need help getting your shoes off?" Jim asked.
Blair nodded. "Yeah, but I'd kinda like to crash on the couch, if you don't mind."
"Whatever you want, Chief."
Blair walked hunched over, shuffling toward the couch like an 80-year-old man. Jim kept a light grip on his elbow, then helped him sink onto the cushions.
"You doing okay?"
He nodded, a touch out of breath. "Yeah, Jim. Thanks."
Slowly, he eased himself onto his side. The pain in his lower gut prevented him from pulling his legs up, so Jim stooped forward to help him, carefully lifting his legs onto the sofa.
Jim nodded, sliding Blair's shoes off his feet and placing them neatly by the couch. "You need a pain killer?"
The Sentinel grabbed the afghan from the back of the couch and draped it over Blair. "You want some tea? Soup?"
"No," he muttered, drifting, his eyelids heavy. "Thanks, Jim." Within moments, he was asleep.
Jim lay awake in bed, his thoughts too turbulent to succumb to sleep. He listened to the soft breathing of his roommate in the living room below and tried to squash the flare of rage that rose in his chest. Agent Greene. He had gotten a name, thanks to Simon. As soon as Blair recovered, Jim intended to hop a plane and have a one-on-one with the overzealous Agent Greene.
A high-pitched beeping intruded upon the silence, and he grabbed his watch from the nightstand to silence the alarm. Blair's meds. The doc had sent him home with several bottles of pills, including a batch of antibiotics that had to be taken every six hours "without exception."
Rolling out of bed, he grabbed a pair of blue sweats from his bureau and trotted down the steps. His sensitive eyes penetrated the darkness easily, and he walked past the couch, glancing down at his sleeping partner. Blair lay curled up on the couch, buried beneath the afghan with half of his face pressed into the pillow.
He grabbed the antibiotics from the cabinet, then filled a small glass with water and made his way back over to the sofa. Setting the items down on the coffee table, he bent down and placed his hand on Blair's shoulder.
"Sandburg." He gave the man a gentle shake. "Come on, Chief, wake up."
Blair stirred, releasing a low moan that melted into a soft whimper. He curled into himself, pulling the blanket over his head.
Jim paused, his jaw tight. Lowering his voice to a softer level, he gave Blair another shake. "Blair, it's time for your medication."
"Huh?" came the murmured reply.
"The antibiotics. Time for another dose."
The afghan slid down, and Blair peeked over the top of the blanket to peer up at the Sentinel. "Jim?"
"Yeah, who else?" he asked, offering a small smile. Then he realized that Blair probably couldn't make out his expression in the darkness, and he reached over and flipped on the small lamp sitting on the end table.
Blair gave into a slow yawn, then pushed the blanket off his chest. "My meds?"
"Yep." He grabbed the cup and scooped up the pills, handing them to the young man.
Blair gulped the two pills down, then finished the glass of water and handed it back to Jim. "Thanks."
"No problem. You wanna stay out here, or you want me to help you into your room?"
"Actually, if you can just help me up, I need to use the bathroom."
Jim made a miserable attempt at suppressing his grin. "You need help with that?"
Blair scowled. "No. Thank you very much, Jim. I can manage that on my own. Just get me off the couch and I'll do the rest."
Jim chuckled and reached down, slipping an arm beneath Blair's back and gently pulling him up. "Whatever you say, Chief."
The next morning...
8 a.m. The deep odor of cigar wafted to Jim's nostrils, betraying the presence of his captain a few moments before the knock sounded at the door.
Jim lowered the flame on the stove, gave the eggs a final stir, then headed toward the front door. He cast a brief glance at his sleeping partner on the couch, wondering why Blair had opted for the sofa instead of his bed.
He swung the door inward and managed a small smile. "Hey, Captain. How are you?"
"Fine, thanks," Simon replied, sans cigar. The presence of the cigar mattered very little, Jim had discovered long ago. The scent was imprinted in the man's clothes. "How's the kid?"
"Doing better. He's asleep on the couch."
"Was asleep," came the drowsy reply.
Simon chuckled and walked past Jim, taking up a seat in the armchair. "How are you feeling, Sandburg?"
"Wiped out," Blair replied, pushing himself into a semi-sitting position against the arm of the couch. "I'd been up for over twenty-four hours before Agent Greene stopped me. Than to have all that happen, then the hospital. Man, I feel like I could sleep for a year." He yawned as if to emphasize the point.
Simon glanced at Jim, shifting in the chair. "Sandburg," he began, turning his attention back to the anthropologist, "you think you can tell me exactly what happened? We need to know if we're to pursue this."
Blair pulled the covers up to his chin, sinking lower into the couch. "Was it legal?" he asked softly.
"Depends on what they did."
Blair's gaze fell to the coffee table. "They did everything. I mean, they left no stone unturned. What do you want me to say?"
"They pumped your stomach? Did an enema and colonoscopy?"
Blair nodded. "Uh-huh."
Simon sighed, leaning back in the chair. "Well, I hate to say it, but, yeah, border searches are legal. It's an exception to the Fourth Amendment. Since you entered the U.S. and changed airlines at the border, yeah, they had a right to search you, but I don't know if the scope of that search was legal. They definitely screwed up when they injured you, and we'll get them on that, Sandburg."
Blair looked up at the captain. "You mean they can do that to anybody for any reason?"
"I'm afraid so. No reasonable suspicion is required for a stop. After the stop, the do need reasonable suspicion to progress to a search, but the Drug Courier profile, which they'll claim you fit, provides all the reasonable suspicion they need."
Blair bit his lower lip. "So what does it matter? We can't really do anything, then."
"Wrong," Simon said. "We can go after them for causing you physical damage."
Blair sank lower into the couch, pulling the afghan tighter around his body. "Whatever."
Jim frowned, walking to the back of the couch and peering down at his friend. "What's the matter, Chief?"
Blair flashed angry eyes up at the Sentinel. "What do you think, man? You think I want to testify, or whatever, just so some medic can get a slap on the wrist? It was humiliating enough the first time. I really don't relish the thought of telling a room full of strangers what happened. I sure as hell don't want to see any of those guys again. If I can't do anything about it, I'd rather just try to forget it ever happened."
"It will stop them from doing it to someone else."
Blair grunted. "Yeah, ya think? Somehow, I doubt it. You tell me what'll happen to them if I file a report, or whatever gets done in these type of situations. A lawsuit? Man, I don't have the time, money, or energy for a lawsuit, and I sure as hell don't want to tell a jury how many foreign objects were stuck in me and where." His face flushed, and he shifted onto his side, shrugging deeper into the afghan.
Jim glanced at Simon, noting the captain's strained expression. He knew the older man felt as frustrated as he did. It was a bad situation, but one thing was certain: Agent Greene and the medic were not getting off scott-free. He'd make sure of that.
One week later...
Blair nodded, glancing at Jim as the three of them left the arrival gate. Then he looked at Simon. Despite his protests, Jim had insisted on paying Agent Greene "a visit." Banks had insisted on coming along to add his rank to the hell-raising and, more importantly, to make sure Jim didn't end up in jail on assault charges.
Simon followed the two men up to the counter, flashing his badge. "I'd like to speak with Agent Greene."
The petite woman behind the counter swallowed nervously, nodding quickly. "Yes, sir." She reached for a phone and relayed the request.
The next few minutes passed in silence until Blair spotted the agent's approach. A second later, he saw the flash of surprise on the man's face that betrayed his recognition when he caught Blair's eye. Sandburg's heart immediately kicked into overdrive, and his stomach churned at the memory of his experience in that small room with the man now approaching.
Jim placed a hand on his shoulder. "Stay here, Chief." He rose from his seat, followed by Simon, and headed on an intercept course for the agent.
Blair nodded, fidgeting in his seat as he observed the encounter. Jim and Simon stopped in front of the gent, and the airport officer stood rigid, his expression guarded. Several times, he glanced over Jim's shoulder at Blair, his eyes hard.
It was times like these that Blair really wished he had Sentinel senses. He had no idea what Jim was saying to the man, but he knew it wasn't pleasant. Finally, Agent Greene jerked his chin to the right, gesturing down the aisle with his hand. Jim glanced back at Blair and raised a hand, silently telling Blair to wait while he and Simon followed the agent.
Blair watched the three men leave, than sank lower in his chair.
Jim followed Agent Green into the small office. The man leaned against his desk, his arms crossed in front of his chest.
"Now, you want to explain?"
Jim took a deep breath, one step away from putting his fist through the man's face.
"My partner back there. You remember him, I take it?"
"You and your men searched him for drugs?"
"Yes. He fits the Drug Courier Profile."
Jim clenched his jaw. "Your medic punctured his colon during the search. He had to undergo surgery to repair it. That wasn't until hours after it happened, when he finally landed in Cascade. Thanks to your man's incompetence, my partner almost died."
Greene's face remained impassive. "An unfortunate mistake."
Jim took a step closer to the man, but Simon's hand on his arm restrained him. Banks stepped forward, using his four-inch height advantage on the man to its fullest. "Listen to me, Agent Greene, this is how things are going to go down..."
Two hours later...
Blair rose from his seat when he spotted Jim and Simon up ahead.
"So what happened?" he asked, looking back and forth between the two men.
"Not much, Sandburg," Jim said, looking decidedly unhappy. "Sorry you had to wait so long. We spoke with Greene. Then we spoke with the director. The medic's off duty, so we couldn't speak with him. What it boils down to is disciplinary action for Greene and the medic, and about five thousand dollars."
Blair's jaw dropped open. "Huh?"
"Five thousand dollars, if you agree, that is. Instead of a lawsuit, the director said he'd speak to the lawyers and would be willing to cut you a check for five thousand dollars if you'll sign a contract saying you won't sue. You said you didn't want a trial, right? It's not a lot of money, Chief, and you could probably get more if --"
"No thanks, Jim. Going into court is not a pleasant prospect. Besides, there's no guarantee I'd win." He shook his head. "Five thousand dollars?"
"Pending final approval. Yours and his superior's. Oh, and he has to consult with the lawyers, of course."
"I don't think it'll be a problem," Banks said, a smug smile on his face.
Blair sighed. "Money, huh? People throw money at everything these days."
"Look, Chief, it's up to you. It doesn't cover it, I know, but there's not much else we can do. Minor disciplinary action, that's all. The only other way to fight this is in the courts."
"And, quite frankly, you'd probably win on the negligence thing," Simon said. "I'm not a lawyer, but the guy did puncture your colon, Sandburg. You had a pretty severe infection."
Blair shrugged, forcing a smile. His eyes, however, betrayed the gesture. "Well, at least I can make those repairs to the Volvo. Buy a new set of colored Tupperware for the fridge, even."
Jim raised his eyebrows, batting him gently on the side of the head. "Smartass." He draped an arm over Blair's shoulder and steered him toward the exit. "What say we get out of here, Chief?"
"I'm all for that," Blair said. "Remind me to avoid this airport in the future. I don't want to go through that again."
Though, from what Simon had told him, he could be searched anytime he reentered the States. That knowledge alone made him wary of traveling in the future without Jim, and that new fear made him angry. Why should he be afraid of his own government? He had a right to travel. He was an anthropologist, for chrissakes.
Jim looked down at him, his eyes hooded. "I don't think you have to worry about that, Chief. Their wallets can't afford it, and your Blessed Protector would kick their asses."
Blair chuckled, bringing his hand up to pat his friend on the back. "Thanks, Jim."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The End ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dateline NBC aired a story on 4/27/99 relating the following incident: a black woman, 7 months pregnant, was stopped at a Florida airport by customs agents. She was handcuffed and transported to a hospital where she was subjected to an ultrasound and, when no drugs turned up, told to swallow a laxative. She refused the laxative, afraid that it would harm her baby. The agents held her for three days, handcuffed to the bed, until she drank the laxative. She finally drank the laxative, and, soon after, went into labor, delivering her baby 11 weeks premature.
According to the report, a class action suit is
pending on behalf of black women against U.S. Customs.