- Turn this loss -- this tragedy -- into something better. Not just for your sake and his, but for all the people of Gotham just like when your parents died. You have to go out each night and be Batman.
Synopsis for "Acceptance"
For days, Bruce has been using virtual reality to relive the events which led to his son's death. He intends to prove to Alfred Pennyworth that he could have saved Damian. In the hopes of tearing Bruce away from this obsession, Alfred calls in Nightwing from Chicago to talk to him. Unexpectedly, though, Dick decides to join Bruce in the simulation, knowing that he would not have been able to convince Bruce to give it up.
Together, Dick and Bruce fight their way to Damian's side, hoping to protect him from the Heretic. Sending the boy to save Ellie's life, Nightwing ends up skewering the Heretic with a spear. Even as the image of Damian celebrates their success, Bruce begins to realize that even though they had succeeded in saving him, Damian is still gone. It hadn't been real. All that remains is a hole in his life.
Removing the simulation apparatus, Dick responds that Damian left behind the tangible love between himself and his father. As much as he might try, Bruce will never make sense of the death of his ten-year-old son. Without being the Batman, there would be no Damian, even if being the Batman is what took him away as well. Dick suggests that Bruce turn his loss into something better. Just as Bruce had taken the death of his parents and turned it into a crusade against crime, he should take Damian's death and use it to be a better Batman, for Gotham's sake. Sighing, Bruce admits that while he may never accept Damian's death, he can attempt to live with it.
Later, Alfred panders and then decides to use the simulation device to run the same program. He returns to the moment at which Damian had been watching his father fighting his mother and decided to go and help. As before, Alfred had encouraged the boy, learning that Damian had already done everything necessary to prove that he could not be stopped even if Alfred had wanted to. However, as Damian is about to leave the cave, Alfred surreptitiously pricks him with a tranquilizer, and knocks him unconscious for ten hours, allowing the boy to live to fight another day.
Alfred carries the sleeping child to his father's chair, and lets him rest, explaining that he is very proud of him, and that he will never forgive himself for letting him leave the cave that night.
Bruce finds Alfred using the device, and as the older man removes the apparatus from his eyes, his tears stream down. Sobbing, Alfred admits that he's so sorry that he had let Damian go. Bruce stops him, and admits that he should have seen the pain that Alfred had been going through as well. They had both lost a son that night. Finally, Bruce agrees to shut the program down for good.
Appearing in "Acceptance"
- Leviathan Organization (Hologram)
- This issue is reprinted in Batman and Robin: Requiem for Damian.