"The Bargain": While battling some drug runners at the Gotham City Docks, Batgirl is relieved that she hasn't spotted Batman yet, but not long after thinking that, he appears. She struggles internally to force herself to say something
- I'm tired of hearing about what our uniforms mean -- especially from someone who's pulled the bat symbol off! And it's not a uniform -- it's a shroud, damn it! A shroud that my son got impaled like a stuck pig in!
- — Batman
Synopsis for "The Bargain"
While battling some drug runners at the Gotham City Docks, Batgirl is relieved that she hasn't spotted Batman yet, but not long after thinking that, he appears. She struggles internally to force herself to say something to him; to admit all of the issues that have been plaguing her for weeks. With both of them working together, silently, it doesn't take long before all of the thugs are down, and Batman destroys the heroin shipment with thermite. Finally, she manages to open her mouth to speak, but he interrupts her, noting that her having removed the bat-symbol from her chest must make it official that she has quit, and distanced herself from him.
Afterwards, Batgirl secretly watches her father through his window, talking to him, though knowing he can't hear her. She admits that she doesn't know why she and her brother couldn't be the children he had hoped they would become. She confesses aloud, for her own sake, that she may be responsible for her brother James's death. She believes she could have found a way to save him, but his eyes had frightened her. Those same eyes had remained cold and uncaring as she had watched him fall to his apparent death from the boardwalk at the Gotham Aquarium into the bay. At last, she hopes that her father can forgive her for what she did, and takes her leave, despite his never having known that she was there.
Elsewhere, Batman thwarts a gang of heavily armed car-thieves, while Barbara calls back to Alfred in the hopes that he can connect her to Batman. He responds that Bruce has cut off all communications while on patrol for the last several nights. Even as he says this, though, Barbara chances upon the car dealership where Batman is, but arrives just in time to see him speed away, his work complete.
Meanwhile, Lt. Harvey Bullock has been called to a hostage situation at a convenience store, and is frustrated to learn that none of his sharpshooters have a clear shot. Inside, Batman surprises the hostage takers, and offers to give himself up as a hostage, in exchange for the release of the civilians. When it becomes clear that they intend to keep him and the others, he is forced to fight them, and the hostages take the opportunity to escape. Batgirl arrives, and, watching from afar, she records the fight with her mask's optical camera. Batman's brutality leads Bullock to intervene, earning him a kick in the gut, as Batman warns never to touch him. Disappointed, Barbara ends her recording.
When Batman returns to the cave, he is put disturbed to find Barbara waiting there for him. She warns that he is pushing the city to its limits, filling jails and straining courts with his apparent crusade - and it's going to get him killed. She suggests that Damian would never have wanted him to trade his life for what he has. She shows him the video she took, pointing out that if he were not getting careless, he would have noticed her shadowing him so closely. Enraged by her intrusion into his privacy and home, he smashes the video monitor, and she calmly explains that he had scared her when he had fought with her against the drug runners. He seems to be out of control.
Barbara warns that his attempts to bargain for Damian's life by offering him all of his energy and pain are not going to get him anything but more pain. Her own father had suffered the same way, putting his life into his work. When she had been paralyzed, he had blamed himself and wanted to quit, but she had reminded him that Gotham could not stand to lose a man like him. She suggests that Damian would say the same thing to Bruce. His uniform had meant something to him and to the city. Angrily, Batman shouts that Damian's uniform is no longer a uniform, but a shroud in which his son got murdered.
Thrusting him out of her space, Barbara offers him a bargain. She smashes into the display case where Damian's costume is kept and offers to put it on if he needs a Robin. Coldly, Batman orders her to get out, snatching the costume away from her. When she tries to get through to him again, he explodes with rage, and so she leaves him alone with his grief.
Appearing in "The Bargain"
- Damian Wayne (Mentioned only)
- James Gordon Jr (Mentioned only)
- Barbara Eileen Gordon (Mentioned only)
- Red Robin (Mentioned only)
- Frankenstein (Mentioned only)
- This issue's title was stylized as "Batman and Batgirl" as part of a five-issue plan to include a different member of the Bat-Family in the title following the death of Robin.