Author's Note: This is one of several short pieces I've had on my hard drive for several years now, and I've recently been looking them back over. I've had many requests over the years for more information about my character, Christina L'Orange (formerly known as "Emerald"), and these little stories cover some of her backstory not yet revealed. So I figured what the hell, I'll publish them and see what happens. Enjoy! :)

"Why can't I come?"

Wildwing grit his teeth at the teenager's challenging tone, and focused on keeping his own tone even.

"Because I said no."

"That ain't a reason, it's an excuse."

He stopped dead halfway between the two doors that flanked Drake One, so fast the human girl nearly walked right into him as he turned to face her. The rest of the team stopped to watch.

"I'm not going to argue with you about this, Christina."

"You are arguin' with me about it."

A muscle in Wildwing's right arm twitched; Christina flinched, but didn't back down. He made a mental note of her reaction, but would have to worry about it later; he was in a hurry.

"I can fight an' you know it. I want to fight."

Wildwing forced himself to relax his clenched hands, and spoke to the rest of the team without turning to look at them.

"Go prep for take-off. I'll be right there." They didn't move, and he repeated himself. "Go, I'll catch up." They went. The moment the door closed, Wildwing started talking again.

"I know you can fight, Chris."

"Then why won't you let me—"

"I don't want you to get hurt!"

"I'm willin' t'take the risk, Wildwing!"

"But I'm not!"

"It's my life!"

"But you're my responsibility!"

"So's Nosedive! What the hell is the difference?"

"He—I—Damn it Christina, I don't have to explain myself to you!"

"Right, 'cause it's so much easier t'just tell the useless weak human t'sit down an' shut up!"

He just stared at her through the mask, knowing the imposing appearance it gave him and glad that it hid his eyes. The only responses his frustrated brain could come up with to her accusation including a great deal of crude language, and as much as he told her to watch her own language, that wouldn't help anything. She'd been pushing her luck ever since they'd taken her in, almost two weeks ago now, and he was certain she was just waiting for him to push back.

She glared back at him for several long seconds before huffing angrily and stalking away from him, to glower instead at the controls for Drake One. Wildwing sighed, his anger dissipating a bit.

"I don't think you're useless or weak, Chris."

She just snorted, not turning to look at him.

"I'm only trying to protect you."

"I don't need your protection!" she exploded. She punctuated her statement with an impulsive move that he was sure she instantly regretted—she slammed her right fist into the control panel in front of her, so hard he winced. Glass displays cracked beneath the blow, and electricity sparked around her hand. His first instinct was to ask whether or not she'd completely lost her mind, but after a few seconds—during which the human girl gingerly extracted her fist from the panel, holding it in front of her chest and hiding it from his view—he spoke quietly.

"Feel better?"

"Just go, Wildwing."


"Just go! Your team's waitin' for you."

He sighed and walked toward her, gently taking hold of her elbow. "Let me see your hand, Christina."

"I'm fine." She yanked her arm out of his grip and stalked away, back toward the door they'd just come through. She sighed, and continued quietly, "Just go save the world, already." She disappeared through the door, and Wildwing sighed again. Tanya wouldn't be happy about the damage to Drake One, but at least he was fairly certain that if the damage to Christina's hand had been serious, she would have let him see it. She was stubborn, but she wasn't stupid. His com beeped insistently, and he answered it without looking to see who it was.

"I'm on my way."