He'd barely been in Texas ten minutes, and he was annoyed. Baggage claim was a pain, the airport was a pain, picking up a rental car was a pain.
On his drive out to El Paso, he mused that he was probably just easily annoyed and predisposed to severely dislike the cocky confidence of the state in general. The radio and its commentators weren't helping either, waxing poetic about how Romney was going to turn the country around. Joshua plugged his phone into the car and blasted Jonathan Coulton while finding his way to the Border Patrol office.
Halfway there, he stopped at a McDonald's for lunch, and rummaged in his bag, pulling out a small static bag. He just shook his head at himself as he stared at the pile of cloth inside. Perhaps hauling out this particular Artifact for this particular purpose wasn't the best thing in the world, but try as he might, he couldn't find a damn actual border-related ping in West Texas to save his life, so this would have to do. Finishing his sandwich, he looked around, and snuck into the bathroom, returning about five minutes later, hair longer, and wearing dusty jeans and t-shirt.
Joshua (now temporarily Jennifer) jumped back in the car, and a few minutes later, checked into a hotel and left everything in the room, save only his room key and passport. Half an hour later, he was hiding in some Mexican scrub watching a couple agents check border-crossers, and wondering what the hell he was doing. Twenty minutes went by before one of the guys, the one he was watching, actually, spotted him.
"Hey! You! What're you doing over there?"
Instinct took over and Joshua got up and bolted toward El Paso. The agent crossed the short distance quickly and tackled him to the ground. "What do you think you're doing?"
Wincing, Joshua struggled a bit. "I, was, er, out for a run." He started to panic a bit, realizing that first, he hadn't told anyone where he was going, and second, he hadn't actually thought that far ahead as to what he was going to say or do. Confront someone with an Artifact, sure. Get arrested and sent away? Probably not his greatest idea.
"Out for a run across the border? I doubt it, ma'am. What're you trying to smuggle? Heroin? Cocaine?" The agent looked him over from head to toe.
"No, honestly. I'm just... I'm out for a run, and I got lost." Joshua panicked, wishing passionately for once that he'd figured out getting a badge before doing this.
The agent looked at him for a moment, shaking his head. "Ma'am, I dare say that you're just a bit too stupid to run drugs. I might actually believe you."
As the agent let go, Joshua sat up. "So you're letting me go? Just like that?"
"A pretty girl like you out here? Of course I am."
Joshua gaped. Either his luck just got crazy or there was something more here. "Uh. Alright then." He stood up, but the agent caught him on the wrist.
"But really, darlin', don't you want to go somewhere else? It's too dirty and dusty around here."
Joshua pulled his wrist back, the panic returning. "Are you hitting on me?"
"Not hitting, per se, just thinking that there has to be a better place for you than running around the border."
"Ok, dude, this is not cool." Joshua took a couple steps back, wishing that he'd gotten Helena to teach him some self-defense. "I don't know what the fuck you're playing at, but I'm out of here." With that, he turned and ran flat-out back to El Paso.
Once he got back to the hotel, he leaned on the outside of the building panting. He'd lost the agent after about a block and a half, and now the man was nowhere to be seen.
"Well, that's a bullet dodged." He winced, and shook his head. There had to be a better way to find agents, than files. Hopefully the dude in Jersey was better.