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He expected to be disappointed.

It’s one more step in Dent’s campaign, showing up at a GCPD fundraiser. Some members of the force seem to resent his presence as a political maneuver. Others take it as a sign of genuine support.

Bruce reserves judgment. Officially he’s there to make a donation. He tones his act down for the occasion. Gordon works hard, and Ethan works hard. They’re doing the best they can with the resources they have and that deserves respect. The press can have their fun another day. Bruce Wayne might seem tipsy, but he won’t be dancing over tables or peeing on potted plants.

The venue is modest, hosted by a hotel with a ballroom lit by glass chandeliers. There’s a buffet, there’s a band. Tuxedos and evening gowns fill the room. Nice, but not a billionaire playboy’s usual extravagance.

Dent is there with his wife. He stands straight, neat blond hair and teeth flashing white around his words. Gordon listens, mouth tight, hands perched loosely on his hips. Gilda holds the attorney’s elbow, head brushing his shoulder, lips turning just upward at the corners.

Ethan takes his curiosity (mild, half-glancing, eyebrow raised curiosity) in stride and makes the introductions. Gordon seems skeptical. Dent, politician that he is, grins widely and shakes his hand.

It signifies nothing.

***

Detective Bennett departs halfway through the conversation to find his partner. Gordon takes leave to meet the mayor. Harvey finds himself left to entertain Bruce Wayne, and without a word from her he can tell Gilda finds this hilarious. She grows more animated, smiling momentarily around references to tabloid gossip, voice quick and conspiratory.

For his part Wayne keeps his tone light and his gaze unfocused. Harvey gets the sense that he doesn’t really put much stock into the questions he’s asking. It’s all small talk, teasing about the slogan (Gilda’s idea—she laughs without apology), general skepticism as he outlines his intentions.

"Mr. Dent," drawls Wayne, "you’ll have to forgive me, but this city is a mess. We have lunatics in costumes running around getting into all kinds of trouble. What makes you think you have the power to change anything?”

"I’m not saying it’ll be easy," he replies, "but few important things are. If the people of Gotham choose me, I’m going to do everything in my power to help them sleep a little easier at night. Mob, costumes, officials—whoever I have to take on, I’ll do it."

"That’s very nice," says Wayne, "but why should anyone believe you? It’s a big risk."

"Sometimes we have to take risks to make progress," he says. Gilda’s hand snakes around his hip. He pauses, then adds more slowly. "People are trying to build lives for themselves here, Mr. Wayne. They deserve better."

Wayne meets his eyes. For a moment, Harvey feels as if he is being held and marked for dissection, examined for superficial imperfections before the scalpel. The moment passes. Wayne is a celebrity, not vacant but casual, and he chuckles.

"Maybe, maybe. I’ll tell you what Harvey—" and the man gestures to one of the tables, a clear invitation to sit. Gilda leads the way. "—if you keep going in that direction, I might just vote for you yet."