Waking up with the Batmobile in his garage, it made Bastian want to go out to the PCH and see what the thing could really do. That was one part of him, anyway. He wanted to put the pedal to the floor and see what happened.

On the other hand, a knot twisted inside him at the thought of being in a car, even if he was behind the wheel. It came on every once and awhile, more often than not in recent days, how easily everything could simply end there. It didn’t help to have someone else driving, that made it worse. At least if he was driving, there was some semblance of control. He was the one with his fate in his hands, not anyone else. Not like what happened with his parents, a hired driver with their lives in his hands — their deaths in his hands.

And there was more, somehow. He had these memories of being young, small, hearing the squeal of tires on asphalt and the sickening crunch of metal as cars collided. It wasn’t anything he could remember, at least he’d never remembered before, but now it was there clear as day. His mother’s scream, them both being trapped inside, her trying to console him but he could hear the fear in her voice, how it sounded and felt with the car being cut open from the outside by rescue workers. Sitting in the back of the ambulance as the paramedics tended to her, her hand trembling in his, his bumps and scrapes nothing compared to her injuries.

That had never happened, but Bastian could feel it like he’d lived it.

It’s okay, sweetheart. It’s okay. We’re okay. Help is coming…

More than the memory was the emotion that came with it. It hadn’t happened, it wasn’t real, but he still felt that tightness in his chest, his throat, the panic and anxiety, claustrophobic feeling clawing at his insides. He was scared for himself, scared for his mother, terrified at not knowing what was happening or if they’d make it out. He could smell the smoke, thick and in his lungs, making it difficult for him to draw a full inhale.

His fingers clawed at the door, feeling around for the handle to get out before vaguely remembering he wasn’t in a normal car. Bastian switched to smacking at any button he could reach, going at them blind as he struggled to breathe. It was too dark, too closed in, his shirt clung to his skin with a cold sweat, a weight growing heavier on him by the second until he managed to find the right switch and the roof retracted. He pulled himself out, rolling over the side and onto the concrete floor, chest heaving with each gasped breath.

They’re coming, just hold on a little longer, keep being my brave boy…

It hadn’t happened, but that didn’t stop the tears squeezing from the corners of his eyes, cutting hot trails down his temples to the floor. Rubbing them away did nothing, they were quickly replaced by more. If anything, it made him frustrated and angry, so easily taken over by thoughts that weren’t his own. At least he could breathe easier, outside the car. His breaths were shaky, ragged, but consistent and not close to hyperventilating as he had been before. Slowing, steadying with each passing moment. He liked how cold the floor was, the chill of it pressing into his back through his shirt, his arms where his skin was bare against it. Something to focus on outside of himself.

That’s it, just breathe. That’s it, Bruce.

Those knots inside him twisted tighter, aggravation flaring up as he lashed out, arm shooting to the side and slamming his fist against the side of the car. It hurt, fuck it hurt, but at least he knew that pain was real and it was his. He cradled that hand against his chest as he opened his eyes, looking up at the ceiling and blinking away more tears. It was too much, too fucking much, but it’d crossed that line long before.

He’d find a way to get through it all. What other choice did he have?