Chapter 5: Power is Power

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"Conflict is inevitable. Combat is optional," ~ Max Lucada

The ever drawling life of Bruce Wayne would perhaps be appealing to most; between the charismatic playboy lifestyle and accomplished, prosperous business prestige, many a civilian would commit any number of felonies to be where Bruce is now. The covert vigilante recognises this, and despite the fact that his less than legal crime fighting lifestyle often takes precedence over his public persona, Mr Wayne nonetheless endeavours to dedicate as much time as he can to his family business. Unfortunately, that does not mean that the thirty-five-year-old has altogether gotten his public persona's act in shape. Many a time Bruce has slept through a business meeting, been late, and entirely forgotten work functions that demand his presence. He has become more adept juggling the two sides to his life over the years, and rarely commits such unprofessional stunts anymore, but, every so often, the billionaire still finds himself running late to work, or taking an unsuspecting nap through a particularly insipid meeting.

Today, just happens to be one of those days.

Bruce didn't fall asleep during this board of director's conference thankfully, but the Caped Crusader may as well have been, for he doesn't think a single affair raised and discussed is actually stuck in his head. That may have been due to the triviality of the issues voiced, or because his mind has otherwise been preoccupied with more pressing matters.

The Dark Knight hasn't found himself in a situation this precarious for quite some time. More Gotham players than usual are involved in the core predicament, and yet it isn't as simple as two, three or even four opposing sides on the playing field. Every one of the culprits involved hold their own agenda close to the chest – of course they do, it's Gotham – but some agendas clash with those of their own supposed allies.

Roman and Harvey hold one of the longest lasting rivalries the Gotham criminal underworld has seen, and because Roman is the one responsible for the current crisis, between his recent arms dealer business and calculated, petty hits against Harvey, generally, they would be the primary concerns of the Dark Knight Detective. However, arms dealings are Oswald's playing field, and the Penguin is undoubtedly slighted by Sionis' new rivalling black market, as well as everyone who has supported his new adversary's enterprise. The only one who hasn't is, of course, Harvey, and despite his strained relationship with the Iceberg Lounge's proprietor, they would unquestionably be together in their present enmity against Roman. As established, Oswald would hold no love for the other crime lords – Falcone, Markovic and O'Reilly – for taking their money elsewhere, but Harvey has made more than a small amount of effort to maintain a healthy relationship with the other mob bosses, and despite their difference of opinion when it comes to Black Mask, he likely and hopefully wouldn't jeopardise the peace between them.

The situation is, altogether, entangled and messy. And somehow, Evangeline Winter has managed to place herself right in the centre of it all.

Markovic, Falcone and O'Reilly respect her enough to leave her alone, and by no means hold any intentions to provoke her – as far as Bruce is aware – and yet all three have reportedly been dealing with the crime lord who has attempted two hits against her life in one night. Unaware where Harvey currently stands with Miss Winter, the vigilante assumes he holds no ill will, and intends to manipulate her into his favour, if him allocating two men to save Eve's life last night is anything to go off. It would make sense; Roman Sionis' number one adversary and the woman he wants dead the most teaming up to take him down, and if the private investigator's previous association with Edward Nygma is any indication, she likely wouldn't be above declining aid from a notorious, dangerous criminal.

Despite that, she agreed to stay with him.

Admittedly, Miss Winter has attempted to work more with him in the past, but due to Bruce not wanting her to become too entangled in such a perilous, depraved criminal underworld, he either limited her involvement or turned her straight down altogether. By now it's quite evident that she doesn't wish to let this life go anytime soon, so the billionaire may as well keep her close, and ensure that she doesn't steer too far into the lives of his eminent adversaries. Whilst he's sure she will never take a life, there are far too many other lines she could cross, despite her best intentions.

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