Disclaimer: I don't own "Dagger" Dixon, Batman/Bruce Wayne or Wayne Industries (all DC Comics property, from the Batman the Animated Series or the Batman comic), or Rupert Giles (Joss Whedon's). Not mine, just borrowing them until the story's done. Richard Barnett is my creation.

The Interview

(A Cosmic Network side story)

by Tracey Claybon

Six months since he'd served his 11 year sentence and gotten out of Blackgate, and things weren't getting better. Dominic "Dagger "Dixon was getting frustrated... He'd been very frustrated since relocating to Cleveland to start over again.

This interview was his last chance at a decent job. He had an interview with Richard Barnett for a position as a security guard at Wayne Enterprises - Cleveland at 3 pm, and if he didn't get this position, he would have to take the janitor's job for Grover Cleveland High School in the dodgy part of town his sister had mentioned two weeks ago.

The main bright spot in his time here in Cleveland was the youth intervention classes he helped with in that high school - he was trying to steer the kids that were in trouble in the high school onto a better path than he'd taken, and he was making progress - but he had to find a decent job so that he could keep himself on the straight and narrow.

He didn't mind honest work, but staying away from the criminal element and the dark side of life was more difficult in that area of town, and he didn't want to backslide and go back to jail.

He was wearing his best suit for the interview, and arrived in time to see a man who looked like the librarian from his old high school exiting the office he was about to enter. He entered with the secretary for his interview.

Dixon had almost given up hope. This interview didn't seem to be going so well either, and he was mentally going over letting his sister know that he wanted her to put a good word in for him for the janitor's job when the manager he was interviewing with threw him a curve ball.

Barnett looked a bit apologetic as he ended the interview.

"I'm really sorry, Mr. Dixon, I can't hire you for this particular position, even with Bruce Wayne's recommendations, because you have a criminal record. However... You've been very honest about your past, so I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and give you a chance because you were honest.

"I am going to refer you for a position I know of that just opened with a company WE is now working with - they can use your particular skills, and the company's liaison just mentioned he was looking for an unusual security expert.

"I'll refer you to him now, in fact. His name's Rupert Giles, and he is hiring people with unusual backgrounds for instructors at a private school that just opened this year. He wanted someone who understood criminology from the "other" side, and I believe you're just what he may be looking for. Here is his number, and if you'll give me a moment to speak to him right now, he might be able to see you today..." Barnett said, looking like a man who'd found a solution to Dixon's problem that would let him sleep at night.

Ten minutes later, Dixon was on his way to the Janna Calendar School for Girls in the suburbs of the city. The man he'd spoken to sounded excited that Dixon had worked with children before, and about his background. Dominic felt the faint glimmers of hope stir in his heart for the first time in a LONG time.

He wasn't very surprised to see the face of the librarian-like man he'd just seen exiting Barnett's office earlier. It felt a bit like fate for some reason, and Dominic dared to truly hope that things would be okay.

After his surprise second interview of the day was complete two hours later, Dominic had secured a job as a instructor in criminal techniques and methods with reasonable and even substantial pay and benefits. He was even able to negotiate time off each week to continue counseling the GCHS youth intervention classes.

Best of all, he could do his part to help kids learn the lesson he'd needed to learn himself in his youth, and maybe stop the cycle that brought him before the Batman - maybe, another boy would make the better choice in life and never have to go down the criminal's dark path. dominic looked at the tattoo of the Bat, which he'd told the story of to his boys many times and smiled to himself.

Dixon said to himself quietly, as he walked home from an intervention class, "Maybe - I DIDN'T learn the lesson too late after all. I get to pass it on and keep others from making my mistake. I just wish I could tell and show the Bat I finally got it."

And from the darkness of a starry evening in Cleveland, one of the shadows detached, watching Dixon head for his new job. Batman had followed up on his reference for Dixon after Richard Barnett contacted him, and decided to check on the man to see what happened, what he'd done and how things ended.

The Dark Knight smiled, thinking to himself, "For once, I was wrong. Maybe, a few criminals DO learn after all."