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How to Wake Up
Series: Battle The Universe
Word Count: 1000
Summary: Blind Justice finds herself trapped in a never-ending nightmare, and discovers there might be a leak in the Law and Justice team.
Notes: This story was prompted by Lea and [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith , an old remainder from Nightmarathon. It was sponsored by the general fund! Enjoy!


Barbara was terrified of driving.

She knew how silly that sounded. But in her teens, she'd totaled her car delivering a dozen pepperonis to some research facility, and things had never been the same after that. It was just as well that after the accident, she was legally forbidden to drive; she never wanted to again.

So she was not pleased to find herself hurtling down the highway in her el Camino again. She was a teenager again, her eyes saw the visible spectrum, and pizza boxes filled her backseat, smelling of cheese, oregano, and tomato sauce. Delivery express. If she didn't get them in on time, Craig would bawl her out for sure, but the receipts were all addresses she didn't know, except that they were all very far away from her and each other.

But she couldn't stop. Her brake pedal was decoration. To make matters worse, her car was steering like a bulldozer. It was taking all her strength and concentration to avoid the constant obstacles. Cold sweat slicked her hands and temples, her teeth chattered, but no one else on the road seemed to notice.

In her terror, it took her a moment to realize her car radio was talking to her.

“Justice? Justice? Come in, Justice. It's me, Eye. Come in!”

Justice. The word echoed through her ears. How did—who was--

She blinked, and suddenly she wasn't a teenager anymore. She was an adult, and her vision was the way it had been for the prior twenty years, everything blurry, mottled shades of warm and cold. The road was now a deep swathe of cold darkness, stretching off into the distance. She remembered now; she was Justice. Blind Justice. She was a superhero.

She was also barred from driving due to her vision, or lack thereof.

A parade of orphan nuns chose then to jaywalk, little ambulatory blobs of heat that she shouldn't have been able to recognize. Hauling the steering wheel as hard right as she could, she avoided hitting them.

“Eye, what's going on? Why are you in my radio?”

“Morpheus got the drop on us; he's put the entire team in a dream state. I managed to put myself in an astral state… but I'm too sedated to manifest fully. I'm sorry.”

Justice tried to remember the fight, but couldn't. All she could remember was going to bed the night before. No time to fight the dream amnesia; she had a car to drive.

“No, you did good, Eye. I'm… well, I'm not awake, but I'm lucid now.” Kittens in the road, tiny and cute and wearing little scarves. She swerved, nearly causing the pizzas to fall on top of her. Then she blinked. “Why am I doing this? None of this is real. If I crash, I'll wake up, won't I?”

“No!” Eye cried. “Don't do that! If you die here, you die there too.”

“What? Since when?”

“It's a new gas, a new formula. He's gotten better, Justice. Be careful.”

The car was slewing wildly, everything a blur of speed. Justice struggled to stay on the road, to keep everything in focus. She'd had this nightmare a hundred times, but never with such high stakes.

“Where's Gammabeast?” Whatever its appearance and budget, it had proved immune to Morpheus's gas in the past.

“Gammabeast is busy dreaming about a math test it didn't study for,” Eye said drily. “I can't reach it.”

Justice sighed with exasperation. “What about the new guy, Tank? He's good with mind control, right? It's what we hired him for!”

“I can't reach him, Justice. It's just you and me.”

Her head was spinning. Morpheus was small fish; normally, he achieved little more than embarrassing himself and getting on TV. His gas was so ineffective most of the time that he usually preferred to attack women alone in their sleep, and half the time he didn't even manage that properly. How had he stumbled on a better formula for his gas? Had he teamed up with someone more intelligent than him? She wished her concentration wasn't so taken up with driving; everything was all wrong.

“I'm the only one who can wake, Justice. I need the combination to the safe. I need the weapon.”

“Eye, Morpheus is a punk. Since when were you okay with breaking out the big guns on punks?”

“Justice, if you don't help me, everyone is going to die in their nightmares, and it'll be all your fault. Give me the combination.”

She was taken aback. Then she frowned. “Eye, how do you know I'll die if I crash?”

“What?”

“There's no way you could know that. And I don't remember fighting Morpheus. I just remember going to bed...”

“Give me the combination, Justice.”

Justice's eyes narrowed, then closed—even though since the accident, it made no difference—and she let go of the steering wheel.

“What are you doing?” The voice on the radio shouted. “You'll die!”

Her reptile brain was screaming the same thing at her, terror and adrenaline and long-ago memories of that fated day when she stopped being Barbara and became Blind Justice. But she wasn't a teenager anymore. She was an adult. She was a superhero. So she took a deep breath, clenched her hands tight, and said, “No, I won't.”

Her car slammed into the tree with a crunch.

She woke up with a gasp. She was in her bed, in her penthouse, and a warm figure in a trench coat loomed over her, gas mask on. She couldn't have made his face out, even without the mask, but he sounded dismayed.

“Goddamn it!” He cried. “It should have worked!”

“Sweet dreams, Morpheus,” Justice said, and punched him.

Later, after the cops came and did their job and she found her phone to call Martial Law, she asked, “How did someone like Morpheus know about the vault?”

But Law didn't know. And that was far more troubling than the nightmare.
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