But to my surprise when I turn around, he's still sitting at the laptop typing away, and with quite the concentrated gaze. Huh. Either something's up, or he's actually working.
Working on his next dastardly plan is probably more like it.
"You there, Hawkeye. Stop staring at my brother," Thor says. "It will unnerve him and you do not want to see him unnerved."
I stare at him. "It'll unnerve Loki? Or you?"
"Why would you, sitting there like a man who wants to kill something, unnerve Barbie here?" Stark laughs. He may have writer's block, but he doesn't seem to have lost his sarcastic streak.
"I never said it unnerved..."
".....you kinda did, Blondie...."
"...I am not afraid to use..."
"...I could have sworn..."
"Will you both shut up?" Captain America tries to get in the way of them but it's Loki's voice that pulls them from bickering.
"Petty mortals, ahem, superheroes, I have completed it." Loki sits at the desk with a smug smile. It takes a moment for everyone realize what he said.
I raise my eyebrows. "You finished? This quickly?"
He scowls at me. "I am a god. I have a godly knack for writing. But if you really do not believe me, please see for yourself."
Of course I don't believe him. I never do, and I never will. I get up and cross the room. Sure enough, to my surprise two bold words on the screen pop out. The two words that can fill a writer with sorrow, joy or extreme relief. The End.
"Now I will simply send it out to publishers and take my place as the rightful ruler of this planet," I say.
Stark snorts. "That escalated quickly."
"And that's not how it works," Grandpa says. "For one thing, you submit to agents first, generally speaking. And for another, you aren't the rightful ruler of this planet."
"And you think agents will want to read this?" The female slams my laptop shut.
I stand and kick my chair away. "What is that supposed to mean?"
Thor puts his hands between us. "She meant that it hasn't been revised. This is only a first draft." The female crosses her arms and turns away. "There is still work to be done, brother."
"But I've worked hard on this for weeks. It's perfect!"
"No," the Hulk says, "it's not. No one has good first drafts."
"Well, I do."
"Then let us read it," he says.
Them read it? I would much rather knock myself repeatedly on the head with Thor's hammer.
THOR: Loki's face turned an unattractive shade of red at the doctor's suggestion.
"Brother," I say, clapping Loki on the shoulder. "You have indeed accomplished something great. But the process is not yet complete."
"Aaaaaand that's gonna take some time," the Hawk Man says.
"I am a god," Loki says. "What I have here is the epitome of perfection in literary form. It needs no revisions nor mortal beta-readers."
The Captain sighs. "Loki, we've already told you. No manuscript is ever perfect on the first draft. It'll need tightening, editing, cutting --"
"I am not cutting anything!" Loki cries.
I hold up my hands. "Let us not get ahead of ourselves, friends. My brother has accomplished something very few people ever do. He deserves a break before revisions begin."
The red-haired-female smirks. "Yeah, he's gonna need it."
"Right. If we're celebrating, I'm getting a drink." Stark says. He takes up his coat. "You comin' Banner?"
The Hulk in human form looks between us one at a time. His mouth opens and closes twice before he says, "We'll just... they're in the kitchen. We'll be right back." He follows Stark.
As big as Stark's ego is, that's pretty much all it is. An ego. Leaving me with Clint and Natasha, who immediately start whispering to one another, is pure cowardice.
I look at Loki. Loki looks at me. Thor looks amused. I don't understand how he can look so... happy half the time.
I sigh. "Look, Loki. Are you really the type of guy who takes breaks?"
"I am a god, old man. I do not need a break. World domination does not call for vacationing," he pronounces.
"Exactly," I say with a nod. The look of amusement on Thor's face turns to confusion. It isn't every conversation that Loki and I can agree on something.
Loki catches on fast, shooting a suspicious glare my way. "You are scheming, aren't you?"
"I don't scheme," I deadpan. Loki chuckles slowly. Natasha looks up at the sound before Clint is leading her out of the room.
Just me and the so-called gods.
"What I'm saying is, you can't take a break. You can't afford to. You need to edit that manuscript as best as you can. And while it's not advisable-"
"Why is it not advisable, Captain?" Thor cuts in, a hand on his chin.
"Soon after you finish a manuscript, you're connected with it. All those days of hard work have rendered you blind to your own flaws."
"I have no-" Loki begins. I hold up my hand.
"Flaws, I know. I said your manuscript has flaws." I say. There's a tick in his jaw, but he stays silent. "Right now, editing is pretty much useless. But while you can't edit, you can still research agents."
"Research?" Loki explodes. "Do you see spectacles in front of my eyes? Do I have those wiry metal contraptions on my teeth?"
I can't help it. I sputter a laugh. "Do you mean glasses and braces? Glasses are for seeing better and braces are for a better smile. Not research."
Banner sticks his head in. "Did someone say research?"
HULK: Helping the Crazy God of Insanity (a.k.a Loki) isn't on top of my to-do list. But, what can I say? Research makes me happy. And excited. Oh, better keep calm about this, or the Other Guy will crash the party.
I take Loki's laptop.
He stifles a gasp of horror. "Do not break my piece of mortal technology, monster."
I open 52 tabs and start loading sites about publishing houses, agents, query letters, pitches --
"Ah, Banner?" Captain America looks a little worried. I guess he still doesn't trust the Other Guy not to make random appearances. "Maybe start low-key with the researching? Loki will be overwhelmed --"
"I WILL NOT." Loki strikes a god-like pose. "Do I look like a weak mortal to you?"
"You keep using 'mortal'," I mutter, "and I don't think it means what you think it means." I flip the laptop around so Loki can see it. "You're going to want to bookmark these sites. Also, you need to read them. There's no point picking out agents you could potentially query if they're not interested in your genre."
"Who would not be interested in my book?" Loki says.
"Me!" Tony Stark calls from the kitchen.
I take off my glasses and rub my eyes. "That's why you need to read up about agents. Agents specialise in different genres. See? This agent wants middle-grade books, but this one wants young-adult. And then we get into sub-genres. Fantasy. Dystopian. Paranormal. You need to find an agent that wants what you're writing. An agent that will be passionate about your book..."
I break off. I'm getting way too excited.
A reflective look crosses Loki's face. Wait? He's considering what I've said? This is...progress. I turn to Captain America, my mouth open in amazement. He shrugs and mouths, Maybe he's sick?
"There must be hundreds of agents," Loki says.
"Well, yes." I'm wary now.
"And they all have email addresses, do they not?"
"Most take emails instead of normal mail," Captain America says. "I don't understand why."
"So," Loki says, an evil smile spreading across his face, "I can locate the email addresses of hundreds and hundreds of pathetic mortal agents and MASS EMAIL them my query!"
I consider banging my head against the wall. "Maybe you should just...go back to taking a break." Where's Stark? I think we could all use those drinks now.
BLACK WIDOW: I can't help but overhear -- eavesdropping comes naturally -- so I quietly make my way back into the other room.
Loki may have the social skills of a KGB interrogator, but even he has to know that a mass query is a terrible idea. Since he thinks so little of my opinion, I decide to play it subtly -- make him think it was his idea.
"So, Loki." I casually lean against his desk. "You're thinking about mass querying?"
"I am not merely considering it, spider." Loki scoffs. "It is inevitable."
"Natasha, you have to talk him out of this one." Bruce gives me a pleading look. "He won't see reason."
Steve seems to concur. "Mass querying is a terrible idea. It doesn't bring anything personal to the table, and worse, it's impolite. Loki, I know you don't want our advice --"
"The mortal finally has come to his senses!" Loki interrupts. "Your pitiful 'advice' is worthless to one such as myself. I am burdened with a glorious manuscript, and --"
"We know." Steve holds up a hand to silence Loki for a moment. "As I was saying, I know you don't like us, but we really have a point on this one."
"I don't know." I meet Bruce's surprised look with a sly smile. I got this. "Personally, I think mass querying is a great idea."
"What?!" Steve waves his hands in dismay. "Natasha, you can't seriously be on his side!"
"Of course I am! I completely and totally think it's a great idea." I try to let Steve know that I really do have an idea of what I'm doing, but I'm not sure he's getting it.
It's working, though. Loki frowns at me. "You... agree?"
"Yep." I give Loki a dazzling smile -- even daring to flutter my eyelashes a little. "Fantastic plan, Loki."
"Do you seriously believe my idea is a good idea?" Loki's getting more skeptical by the second. "... I-I think I am going to reconsider. There are a few pitiful, mortal agents who may be a little less pathetic than the rest. Every clever plan needs a little research."
He gives me a confident smirk, and I do my best not to return it. My work here is done.