Derik's breath fogged up the windshield when he sighed. Normally, his face would not be close enough to fog up the cool glass, but normally he didn't have a wolfish snout either.
Not in the car, in any case.
The wipers wiped, smearing the drizzled water across the glass, blurring the sea of red break lights beyond. The lights flashed and moved intermittently. The one in front of Derik's car did just this, pulling ahead another five feet. Derik grumbled and fumbled his foot to move from the break to the gas, to tap it carefully. Doing this with footpads instead of shoed feet had proved to be a challenge in itself. Especially when he couldn't see where his footpaws were fumbling. He managed to get five feet forward and squeak the car to a halt once again.
A low growl rumbled in his throat. Werewolves were not meant for this environment, squeezed awkwardly in a compact car, work clothes shredded about him, tail kinked against the seat, back against the ceiling, nose against the windshield, forepaws resting on middle of the steering wheel. This car was meant for a five something human, not a seven something wolf beast. When choosing a car, he had not considered this eventuality. If he had, he would have gotten one of this questionable boxes on wheels with more headroom than a normal person would be capable of filling. At least he had gotten a car with tinted glass (if only because it had been used and he was not picky).
His growling turned to a whine. Oh, how he wanted to get out of here. Derik wanted to be loping through thick underbrush, between looming trees, feeling the mud and wet leaves on his pawpads. He wanted to hunt for rabbits and squirrels and mice and deer, sometimes for catch-and-release, sometimes for a quick dinner. All of the thrill was in the hunt. The twitching of the kill made him queasy, werewolf or not. He wanted to escape this confinement.
But he couldn't. He needed to stay put. It was not his fault, really. Work had went longer than expected. One last project. One little task. As some obscure law of work deemed, it seemed that if such a small task presented itself ten minutes before the end of work, it was bound to somehow last two more hours than expected. So it happened that Derik's planned trip to a park at the edge of the city had been delayed. And then the traffic jam happened.
Even if the moon were obscured with gloomy rain clouds, he still experienced his monthly affliction. He never saw it as much of a curse until now. He couldn't even put his tail between his legs in depression from his position. The wolf in him wanted to gnaw on the steering wheel or rip an escape route through the roof, but the human in him restrained himself. He continued to whimper. He fumbled at the glove box until it popped open. With his massive claws, he carefully reached in and picked out a box of dog biscuits. Cardboard, plastic and all, he chomped the small box, relishing the soft taste of fake bacon that melted through. Strange how it never really tasted like bacon until he was a wolf. He'd tried as a human and had been sorely disappointed. He frowned at the debris the chomping left on his dash, but crumbs were preferable to claw marks.
The car in front of him started moving again. He regripped the steering wheel and made a fumble for his gas peddle, sticking his tongue out in concentration as he tried to get his massive footpads hit it.
He hit it, but a little too hard this time, the car jumped forward, and he desperately tried to hit the break. He hit the pedal, but not before his snout crunched against the windshield and his bumper crunched into the car in front of him. Dazed, he tried to rub his snout, he saw a few drops of blood on the glass, he licked his nose and tasted the metallic tang. Oh how he wished it had been rabbit blood instead. He found himself drooling.
Then the driver's side door opened of the car he'd just hit. Large guy, muscled, block jawed, rage in his eyes. He could hear the yelling and his ears would have shifted back against his skull, of the car's ceiling wasn't already doing that.
Derik had had enough now. His paw fumbled at the handle of the door until it clicked open. He slowly opened the door, and then stepped out into the drizzle and headlights. He rose to his full height, spine and muscles creaking. He cracked his neck and looked down at the guy, who had been mid-knuckle cracking before freezing at the sight of Derik.
Derik imagined he was a sight to behold: large muscled form, grizzled wet gray fur, eyes glowing red, usual werewolf features, against a traffic backdrop, which Derik figured added to the shadows. He also knew that cell phones would be quickly coming out once shock faded away, so he moved, close to the guy, snout to nose.
"How does the damage look?" he said in his gravely voice.
The guy squeaked. Derik looked at his hood and the guy's rear bumper. Didn't see anything evident.
"My insurance is in the glove compartment if you want it," Derik said, in as calm a voice his growling werewolf muzzle could manage, "I'm sorry for the trouble."
He looked back at his car, then over the landscape of glistening cartops. He sniffed at the air, full of oil and exhaust. His car was no longer an option. Derik looked back down at the guy, who's eyes were so wide Derik thought they would pop out of their sockets any moment. He gave a toothy grin. "Again, sorry for the inconvenience. You have a nice night."
He ran, He caught the notes of a girly scream from the guy as he headed off, but ignored it, focusing on his route through traffic. Instead of going between, he went over, jumping from roof to roof, sometimes across hoods, keeping his grip on the slick metal, hoping not to leave too many dents behind. As he kept going, he started to forget the traffic, the stress, the confinement of his car, the worries. He let his tongue loll out as he scarpered over a truck, up, on top of a semi-trailer, paused and looked over his surroundings. His quick breaths turned to cloud in the cool air. Derik looked up, saw the moon peak through the clouds.
He let out a long howl.
After that, a few more car roofs, then he loped off the freeway, into underbrush.
He hunted rabbits.
The repercussions for Derik's actions proved to be anything as serious as he would have imagined. Yes, he had to pick up his impounded car, but even that seemed less dramatic than he expected. A werewolf sighting in a traffic jam had not stirred media or public interest, due other news pushing whatever public interest it might have held aside. Getting his car back did not prove as complicated as he imagined either. Yes, it included paperwork and a small fine, but a distinct lack of awkward questions.
Derik bought a GPS with traffic alerts on the way home.