Loki has thrown his laptop out the window.
"You did save your manuscript somewhere else?"
"Of course I did, you imbecile! Haven't you heard of Dropbox?!" I do not answer. I do not know of this Dropped Box. But Loki continues. "I don't see what the POINT is though. I have nothing. NOTHING."
"You have thirty-thousand words, brother. That's more than half of a strong YA novel. You must keep writing."
"How can I when I don't know what to write?" He waves his arms in the air as he speaks.
Captain America runs into the room. "What happened? I heard -- " He sees the window and sighs. "Loki,"
"Oh don't you LOKI me," my brother says. "I am DONE. I thought I had the patience for this but I don't, and there's nothing you can do to change my mind!"
I roll my eyes. "Brother, you have writer's block. It's something we all struggle with."
"Yes, except most of us don't throw things when it hits." The Man of Iron says as he and the others enter the room. "Quite childish, wouldn't you say, Hulkie?"
Banner holds up his hands. "Hey, I didn't ask to be involved."
I approach Loki and place my hands on his shoulders. "Brother, we are trying to help you. But we can not help if you will not try."
Natasha places a different laptop on the table, and I hold my hand out toward it. Loki sits with a huff.
I lean over and whisper to him. "Do not be a child, brother, or you will only prove the Man of Iron correct."
If there is one thing I refuse to do, it is to further boost Stark's ego. I thrust open Natasha's laptop, and she types in her password. I try to look as she does, but her fingers move too fast for me to catch even a letter. The screen opens to a word document. The cursor blinks.
"Type," Thor says.
A million different possible sentences run through my mind, but most of them involve killing the Avengers in gruesome, terrible ways and have nothing to do with my story (one even involves a toaster oven). I debate about incorporating them into Isaac's plot.
"You haven't moved," Captain Grandpa says.
"I'm thinking," I grunt.
"Well, that shouldn't take that long," Stark says.
I roll my eyes. Got to prove him wrong. Maybe... maybe... I think I've written Isaac into a tough spot.
Maybe Isaac needs someone to get him out of that. Maybe a side kick. An EVIL side kick. I glance at Natasha and decide that if I could create a character half as intimidating as her, I will have succeeded.
Enter Lorraine. So evil she can create a bomb from a toaster oven, a bobby pin, and some leftover mushroom marinara.
I type furiously. Stark raises his eyebrows with surprise, and I grin.
"Ah, so you've got a budding romance?" Stark says. I can see the anger building in Loki's eyes. "Never took you for that type, Loki. You know, you and I could go to-"
"That's enough, Stark," I cut in. He raises an eyebrow, which looks funny because, well, he's nearly a foot shorter than me.
"Can we please get back on track?" Banner asks. He has the most whiny voice I've ever heard. And I've heard a ton of voices.
"So what does this, ah, Lorraine girl do?" Hawkeye asks, always to the point.
"Can you not read, shortcake?" Loki asks. I snort and he cuts his gaze to me.
"Sorry," I mutter. I read over Loki's shoulder when he turns back to the screen.
Apparently Lorraine can do a lot of evil things. She sounds like a female version of Loki, which could be bad if every guy out there ran to her assistance.
"You can't keep saying 'Lorraine snapped' everytime she speaks. And it looks like she's speaking a whole lot of nothing," I say. Loki glares at me. I'm getting used to it. "Every word in the story needs to be essential to the story - in either building the world or moving the plot."
"We use that in our world as well, Captain. Speak only that which you must," Thor says. I nod.
"I do not like when you all agree on something," Loki says.
"We agree on lots of things," Natasha adds with a shrug.
"Yep." I cross my arms. "I could have argued that you didn't have writer's block before. But now that you're writing dialogue that's going nowhere, you've got it for sure."
Stark claps. "Thank you, Mr. Rogers, our genius."
I clench my fist. And of course, Banner starts droning on.
HULK: Writers' block isn't that difficult. I mean, you can just smash it, right? I'm not sure if Loki is playing Drama Queen (that title suits him, now I come to think of it) or if he's legitimately stuck. I sigh. I guess I'll give him the benefit of a doubt. Like I do.
It's tough being nice.
"Why don't you take a break, Loki?" I say. "Writers' block is simply a misnomer because the "block" implies one monolithic cause, when in reality --"
Captain America spins on his chair and holds up a hand. "Banner, please. English?"
"That is English," Stark says. "Best English I've heard all day, actually."
I cough politely. "Sorry. I'm just trying to say, writers' block is usually the cause of being stressed."
Loki looks bored.
"When you're, um, stressed..." Come to think of it, I feel kind of stressed right now. I wipe my sweaty palms on my purple pants. "The human brain shifts the control from the cerebral cortex to the limbic --"
"Woah! Green man!" Loki says. He smooths his helmet-thing, which I think makes him look like an antelope, but apparently he thinks is kingly. "I am not human. I am a god."
"I forgot," I mutter. "Puny."
"And," Loki goes on, his voice rising, "I'm not stressed! I'm not blocked! I am writing perfectly with no problems at all!"
"Denial," Stark and I say together. We share a half smile. Loki smoulders. The Captain rubs his temples.
"Maybe you need to talk through your block," Stark suggests, "but I wouldn't recommend Banner."
I feel bad. "Tony, about that elevator in Switzerland --"
Stark waves it away. "Don't worry. I don't mind telling it again. Besides, I probably started at the wrong place. It should have been back, before I took over Stark Industries --"
Oh great green eggs and ham. Help.
BLACK WIDOW: I roll my eyes and hold up a hand. "Stark. Enough. Your narcissism will get us nowhere. What Loki needs to do is think this through."
I walk over and lean toward his screen, ignoring the angry glare he gives me. "See, Loki, your problem is that this new love interest character has no personality outside of 'evil.'"
He snorts. "As if that isn't enough."
"It's not." Rogers jumps in. "Good character means chivalry, integrity, humilty, selflessnes..."
"Wrong again, Patriotpants." Stark interrupts. "We're not talking about the Boy Scouts here. That might be good moral character, but it doesn't mean every book needs to have it."
Rogers is about to answer back when Thor preempts him. "The Man of Iron is correct, brother. This character must be like you and I, not some blank, frosty beast."
"Thank you for that, brother." Loki glowers at him. "So, how do I fix it?"
I can't believe he's actually asking for help. I do my best to conceal my surprise as Clint answers. "Well, everything she says right now has to tell us something about her. What are her inner motives? Make her interesting."
Loki snorts, "But evil IS interesting."
I give a little nod. "Villains done right are interesting. But you have nothing INTERESTING about Lorraine. Sure, she has heck-a-million skills, but there's no drive or weakness to her skill. Why is she being evil? Is it revenge? Is it power? Everything needs a reason and a driving force." Seriously, can skulls get any thicker?
Stark has the nerve to speak again. “She's as perfect as my hair Antler man. Mess her up a bit.”
"Fine.” I don't like the glint in his eye. It's very...evil. Big surprise. “You want interesting? I'll give you interesting, Hobbit Boy."
Loki sets his fingers to the keyboard and begins to type away. Uh-oh. This can only go one direction, downhill. We sit in silence for a few minutes watching to Loki type away until Thor cuts in. “Ho brother! You're writing again! Why don't you read what you've got.”
“Oh no, I couldn't. I'm too uninteresting for that.” Loki hands the laptop to me. “Why don't you do the honors... Clint.”
Warning bells are ringing like mad in my brain. I really don't like where this is going. But I take the laptop anyway and read:
“Lorraine paced menacingly in front of the prisoner. Ah, she was beautiful in all her evil glory. Her tall womanly figure wasn't hard to miss in the empty room. I watched from the shadows in the corner taking it all in. The prisoner cowed down as she leaned in close to his face.
“Are you ready to tell me yet?” She laughed, “Or would you like be to slice you?” In a split second, a knife is in her hand.
The man shook his head furiously. “Who are you? Why are you doing this? Please don't do this. I have a family at home.”
Lorraine just laughed. “Therein lies the problem, Shortie. Can I call you shortie? Of course I can, these heels make you look up to me. The tables have finally turned to my favor.”
“I don't understand.”
“What? You don't remember? You don't remember your Sarah Bear?” A gasp slipped from the mans lips. He remembered.
“Yes, it's me. But your Sarah is long gone. I am Lorraine now. When you left me that day in the rain, I vowed no one would get the better of me again. And so I became a new person. A warrior. I am POWER. I should thank you for teaching me all the things I've learned in life. Never trust anyone, they'll just lead you astray. Won't they,” she leaned in close and practically spat in his face, “Clinton?”
Clint? OH NO he didn't. I can just hear Loki's taunting voice in my head. Oh but I did. I already hated the guy, and this stupid book wasn't helping me. The only reason I stuck around was to keep my eye on the guy. Not to mention, I didn't exactly want to look like a fool. A growl rose in my throat.
Natasha put her hand on my arm. “Clint,” she muttered a warning in her low breath. “Don't go there. Now is the not the time for anger.”
I shook free of her grasp. “Oh I'm not angry. I don't need to be.”
I walk over to Banner and thrust the laptop into his hands. “Bruce, would you smash this for me?”
"No laptop smashing," I said firmly. "Or any technology smashing at all. We do not smash."
Bruce gave me a look that plainly said he knew I was now just modifying House mottos from Game of Thrones but wasn't going to mention it unless I did, since the others would have a go at me for being unproductive in the time they thought I'd been working. To be fair, I'd read them first, and these guys liked reading. That was their thing.
That and this misguided attempt to get a decent novel out of Loki, which I really wasn't convinced by. I mean, hell, first drafts need work, but...
I realized that I was the focus of their attention (finally!) a few seconds later. The others were staring at me.
"Stark?" said Bruce. "Do you have anything useful to contribute?"
"Why, isn't my very presence stimulating enough?" I glanced at Loki. "Besides, ole Mischief seems to be getting on okay now. Back in the swing of it, as it were."
Cap frowned. "Is something wrong, Stark? You're normally raring to share your ideas. Today you're pretty quiet."
"I've shared all the opinion I've got," I said, irritable and unfriendly. "Loki's not a child. He can do this himself, and we can help in edits."
"You have the block too, Man of Iron!" said Thor triumphantly.
"Hang on a sec," I said. "I never said I was blocked."
"But you are, aren't you?" said Hawkeye with a look that suggested he wasn't that sorry.
"How is this now about me?"
"Seconded," said Loki. "How is this now about him?"
Cap shrugged. "Isn't it always?"