Stretching, Beast Body decided to rest here for a few minutes. He plunked down on the dirt path with his back against an embankment alive with honeysuckle and crossed his legs Indian style.
After about ten minutes, another hiker topped the ridge. The middle aged man mopped his brow with a handkerchief and looked out across the city. B.B. expected him to say something like: 'Beautiful, isn't it?' or 'Nice day for a hike.' but the guy remained silent.
'Well fine,' B.B. thought. 'If you want to be rude, I can be rude, too.' The guy reached back and adjusted his underwear, adding a few hearty scratches for good measure. Beast Boy's jaw dropped. Eww! Most people at least waited until they were alone or . . . . . the green skinned teen looked down at his bare chest and dusty brown shorts in horrified realization. He was just a jumble of green and brown against a bigger jumble of green and brown. The guy hadn't even seen him!
Here he was close enough to shove the other hiker off the cliff and the man didn't even know he was there. What if he turned around and got startled and leapt backwards in alarm? Or worse, if B.B. made some noise to alert the man to his presence and the guy leapt forward to get away . . . . . it would just be best if B.B. stayed quiet and let the guy pass without any dangerous surprises.
Shortly after this epiphany, Beast Boy realized he had to cough; badly. How had he not had to cough before? Now it felt like his tongue was coated in dust and pollen. Silently, B.B. slipped his canteen out of its pouch and took a hasty swallow. Or at least, he meant to take a hasty swallow. Right around his bronchial tubes the urge to cough reasserted itself and closed off his throat. The mouthful of cherry cola, already volatile from being bounced around in a hot canteen, erupted into fizz; rushing uphill in a guerilla attack on Beast Boy's sinus cavities. The canteen itself overflowed, coating his hand in sticky red liquid.
The wisdom of hiking with cherry soda was brought into question as a cramp seized his calf muscle. As quickly as he dared, B.B. leaned forward onto his hands in what could have been interpreted as a crouch. Grimacing in pain, he tried to straighten out the afflicted leg as red foam dripped from the corners of his mouth.
The sudden freedom from the honeysuckle vines made the skin on his back spasm. Instinctively, B.B. let his cherry flavored hand morph into a fearsome set of claws and reached up to scratch his back, sticky red syrup still dripping from his nails.
For all these reasons, Beast Boy was looking a little wild-eyed when the stranger finally turned around and looked straight at him. The cough B.B. had been holding in melded with the nervous chuckle he usually reserved for these sticky social situations and came out as a sort of barking, maniacal laughter. Red foam sprayed from his pink-tinged fangs and ran freely from his trembling lips.
Afterwards, Beast Boy carefully massaged the charlie horse from his leg. He made his way over to a nearby stream and washed the cola from his face and hand. He dumped out the rest of his canteen and filled it with water. Dabbing his face dry with his T-shirt, he noticed the hiker's walking stick had been discarded in the woods. Huh; he must have lost his grip on it when he failed to make that last turn on the path. B.B. stepped over the wide swath of plowed up dirt where the hiker's boots had dug in to get back on the path to free the walking stick. It was one of the fancy store bought kind with the compass in one end and a metal tip. The tip was kind of dented up now, but that was to be expected; ash was a fairly hard wood and the stick must have been driven three inches into the trunk. Beast boy would return it if he ever saw the guy again. As things stood, he didn't think chasing the guy waving a stick would help matters any.
Man, and he thought Robin had been mad about 'The Rat Rescue Incident'.