CAPTAIN AMERICA: We were going to show Loki how to write a novel. After he explained our silly mission to the others, they leaned over the screen and stared at the Loki's hook plastered to the top of the document.
Sixteen-year-old Isaac Clark had been diagramming his plans for world domination since his classmates were chewing Play-Dough.
I backed up slowly. I had better things to do than watch the Avengers help Loki with his plans for world domination. If you ask me, Thor had finally gotten his 'Loki is my brother and a god' thunder theme into their heads.
"You will not leave, Captain," Thor says without turning around. I sigh.
"Why do you need me here? You've got five others," I say, reaching to pick up my shield from the floor. He extends his hand and his hammer flies into his grip with a clang.
Everyone turns around.
Black Widow raises an eyebrow. "Bailing?"
"I-" I sigh. "Does this make sense? Why are we helping Loki?"
Stark rolls his eyes and comes over to me. He wraps an arm around my shoulder and leans closer. I press my lips together, it's all I can do not to toss the shorty across the room. "We're not helping him, Cap. Well, technically, we are, but we're helping him make a fool out of himself."
"What is supposed to be my first line?" Loki asks right then. And I look at him through Stark's eyes. He does seem to be making a fool out of himself. When did villains turn to writing novels to dominate the world?
"Anything really. But ideally, something that hooks," I say before I can stop myself. Thor smiles at me. Stark and Banner exchange a look. I feel a little part of my red, white, and blue turn green and gold.
"Care to be more specific, Grandpa?" Loki asks. I set my jaw. But before I can speak, Thor does.
"We cannot tell you, brother," I answer. "This is your novel, not ours."
Loki huffs, a look of annoyance in his scrunched up face. "But what do you mean by HOOK?"
Stark rolls his eyes. "Well we don't mean plunging a piece of twisted metal into your reader's stomach,"
"Although," Hawkeye says holding up a finger, "That might help him think of something."
"I think I'm gonna' be sick," Banner says, standing to pace in front of the couch.
I approach my brother. "A hook is a strong sentence, filled with all the personality your book contains. Some readers judge the entire book by its first line alone, so it must be powerful. Something that will grasp your reader's atten -- "
"Lock them in my evil grip?" Loki sits forward, a gleam in his eye.
"Well, yes," I say.
Loki sits back in his seat and stares at the computer scree, his face a mask of concentration. I look around and see the other Avengers staring at my brother, as though tensing up for battle.
Minutes pass, but nothing happens. Then Loki sighs. "I can't think with all of you here. Leave me."
"Not a chance, smarty-pants," the Man of Iron says, coming forward. "I think we forgot to mention a couple of things. One, I am still the most attractive person in this room and no one has said anything about it for half an hour -- a travesty -- and two, you don't have to make your first line perfect right now. That's what revisions are for."
"He's right," Captain America says with a sigh. "Just get something down, Loki. How do you want to begin?"
A grin splits my brother's face, and he hunches forward. Clickety-clackity fills the air for a moment, before he sits back.
The red-haired woman leans forward to read over Loki's shoulder. "Isaac stormed out of the kitchen, leaving his idiotic parents confused behind him. He had better things to think about than their so-called 'concerns.'"
"Okay," Stark said, shifting on his feet. "That's... that's actually not too bad."
"You doubted my brother?" I say, stepping toward the man of iron.
He scoffs. "Please, like I'm the only one."
IRON MAN: 'Doubt' was probably a mild word for how I felt about the whole performance -- Loki might have had it in him to rule the "world (though I doubted it), but writing a novel wasn't for everyone. And yeah, I know what they say: everyone has a book inside them. But you know, for some people, that's where it should stay.
Still, I kept this to myself, just like Pepper taught me. "You have a sentence, then," I said.
Loki glared up at me. "I suppose you're going to say I need more."
"You've got a hook. Now you need a line and a sinker." I grinned. Nobody joined in. "Come on, guys, that was funny. That was funny, right?"
"We're on a deadline, Stark." When Hawkeye is glaring at you, something's up. He's got some freaky eyes.
"Yeah, okay. Keep your hair on, Katniss."
"I understood that reference," said Cap, which was a surprise, because I don't remember them sitting him down in front of The Hunger Games, nor had I seen him reading recently. Still, the Capsicle never fails to surprise me.
"Okay, so you've got a hook," I said, appreciating the fact that at least their attention was on me, even if they were about three seconds from the dreaded eye-rolling again. "Now we need character."
"I've got a character," said Loki.
"Yeah, this Isaac fellow. But all we know about him so far is that he sees his parents as idiots and has important things to deal with. I mean, presumably that's related to the whole world domination spiel, so we should probably see that."
"It's a book, not a moving picture show," interjected Thor.
"What, you never heard of show don't tell? Oh boy. This is going to be a long day." I looked at the screen again. "So I'm guessing he's working on his plans, right? Can we see that? Like, does it take the form of a super massive world map with pins stuck in it, or are we talking technology? Because if you want tech, I'm your guy."
"Stark, forget the technology for a minute." Natasha always ruins my fun. I swear she and Pepper get together and discuss their nefarious doings when I'm not in the room.
"Fine," I said. "If you don't want my help, don't have it. How about you give some helpful suggestions?"
BLACK WIDOW: I rolled my eyes, giving Tony a disinterested look. There was a reason I put "does not play well with others" in his write-up. But I wasn't about to back down from a challenge. Hooking one hand in my gun belt, I took a step forward. "Look, Loki, a beginning is all well and good, but you can't stop there."
"And why not?" Loki looked at me as if I were the most idiotic person he'd ever met. "You can disarm a man with a sidelong look. Why can't Isaac enthrall these pitiful mortal readers with just one sentence?"
"Well, you see, they don't care about him yet." Steve interjects. "He's just some punk kid with a vendetta against his parents. No offense, but with kids these days, who isn't? You've got to make him more interesting than that."
"Exactly. Give him some defining traits -- amazing hair, for example." For all his protestations earlier, Stark seems desperate to jump in. "Give him a reason to be interesting."
"Perhaps he could be trapped in a position where he must fight off armies of Joutunheim!" Thor shouts.
I give him a look. "How about we don't bring up the Frost Giants?" I hiss with a pointed look at Loki. "We've got to keep the mood calm."
"You said he had important things to deal with." Bruce says helpfully. "Why don't you tell us about those?"
"That's a great idea, Bruce." I reply, smiling reassuringly at the scientist from across the room. "Loki, why don't you explain what Isaac's got to do?"
HULK: I feel sorry for Loki. Yep. I'm surprising even myself. But I hate seeing people get hurt and if Loki shoves that book into the hands of readers, I have a feeling they'll shove it right back at his face.
"Hooks are important, Loki," I say, "but so is the next sentence, and the next, and the next. You have to follow up a powerful hook with --"
"More power?" Loki has a mischievous look in his eye that is downright scary. "I can do that."
I clear my throat. "I was going to say 'equally captivating sentences'. But 'more power' works too."
"You must bring excitement to the people of earth as they read your hook!" Thor booms.
I check my heart rate monitor. "Not too much excitement. It's not healthy. Well, for all of us."
Loki leaves his computer and sidles up to stand next to me. He puts an arm on my shoulder and grins with that mischievous -- I think it's upgraded to evil -- look in his eye. The room tenses. Again.
"Shall we have some excitement, Banner?" Loki says. "Dust off those party tricks of yours?"
I give a tight smile. "Don't tempt me."
"Let's stick to the topic at hand, guys," Hawkeye says.
"Right." I extricate myself from Loki's devilish gaze and take off my glasses. I wipe a corner of my purple shirt across the lenses. "Make your hook exciting. But not too exciting. Make sure it's unique. And make the reader care. Got all of that?"
HAWKEYE: This whole thing is getting ridiculous really. Just hours ago I thought we were trying to stop Loki from taking over the world. And now we're helping him write a good novel which he plans to USE to take over the world? Yeah, I still hate the guy. Sure, the gang can talk all they want about making readers care, and yakkity-yak, but you won't find me caring about this operation anytime soon. I'll help him write the novel, but I sure as heck won't let him do anymore damage to innocent people.
Resolved, I get up and pace, keeping my distance from the puny God himself. "It's like archery. You gotta have it set exactly...."
"He's not an archer, Robin Hood." Stark says. "So quit it with the theatrics. That analogy isn't exactly gonna help him."
I snort-glare at him. Probably something that Banner would do as the Other Guy. "Says Mr. Let's Give Hawkeye Modern Nicknames. It totally makes sense."
Natasha rests her hand on my arm. "Cut it out Clint." She adds, in a whisper that only I can hear, "You can give the guy a piece of your mind later. Personally, I'd kinda like to see that."
"Alright, so archery aside, you know what you need. So hit us with the best you got."
"Or, should we say smash?" Loki looks pointedly at Banner.
Thor has been pretty quiet through the last exchange. But his voice is clipped when he speaks. "Brother, do you want our help or not?
"Fine. Here's your so called hook; "Isaac stormed out of the kitchen, leaving his idiotic parents confused behind him. He had better things to think about than their so-called 'concerns'. So what if the world was ending, it wouldn't make a difference, one way or the other. He would still be that troubled kid to them."
I groan within myself. The guy is actually pretty good. Sure it took like a million and one times for this whole thing to sink in, but if this keeps up, we might be hooked ourselves. Then I'd just be his pawn again. And that cannot happen.
"Your hook isn't ALL that terrible," Bruce says.
I flash a smile. "Then remind me why you all are here."
"Have you gotten past that first paragraph?" Uncle Sam asks.
Thor pulls out the seat from beside me. "Then you need to keep writing."
"It will probably be terrible," the manipulative woman says. "First drafts always are."
"Mine aren't," Iron Man says.
I drum my fingers against the bottom of my laptop. "It's hard to focus on writing a world domination masterpiece when you all are staring at me. I need solitude."
"You see," the one with the arrow says, "there is where you're wrong. A good writer is able to write anywhere."
"And we need to keep an eye on you," Uncle Sam says. He coughs when he sees me glaring. "For encouragement, of course."
I will kill him first, I think.
"Encourage me from behind the door. Even better, from the bottom of the sea."
Iron Man clicks his tongue. "Fine. Brood and all that fun stuff. We'll be in the other room. Knock when you have a chapter finished." The other Avengers shrug and follow him out.
I grunt and stare at my not quite blank document. The typing cursor blinks impatiently, and I shift in my seat. What would a human child plotting world domination do next? I open up Google and type in 'human boy destroyer of worlds,' but a page comes up saying that someone--probably Stark or Banner--put a parental block on my Internet. I curse and return to my word document. I can't even go on Twitter.
To be continued... Loki with Writer's Block.
We have another member announcement to make! Unfortunately, the lovely Stephanie Diaz has stepped down from her position as Thor. And while we're all sad to see her leave, we're also excited to announce our newest member (as Thor) is Darci Cole!