S.H.I.E.L.D.'s weapon development facility was located underground, its surface area mostly deserted and spaciously fenced.
Loki stood on top of a small hill outside the guarded fence surveying the waste grounds, right next to the completely suited up Iron Man. Even Loki was fully armored, wearing the Horns of Mischief and carrying the scepter in one hand.
'There,' Tony's artificially rendered voice sounded somewhat alien beneath the iron mask when he pointed at the driveway leading underground and the transporter attempting to enter.
Loki nodded und waited patiently until the vehicle stopped, before he lifted the scepter and fired a blue gleaming energy discharge at it.
The van instantly exploded in a consuming fire taking down the gate and most of its framing structure.
'Go,' Loki commanded, whereat Tony ignited the jets and took off to carry on the deed of destruction.
Loki followed using portals of space and time created by the Tesseract powered scepter.
The havoc wrought by the Iron Man verged on perfection. Chaos, death and devastion led the way inside the facility, leaving behind only failed resistance while Loki strode through the carnage like an usurper occupying a recent conquest. Every surveillance device he came by was thrown a shot of his mischievous smile, giving Director Fury and everyone who was watching his regards.
It was a victory gained easily.
Together Loki and Tony took down three laboratories within four days in total before they finally came upon some considerable opposition.
Director Fury must have had predicted their next move and was waiting with half an army of geared up security guards, when they broke into a large manufacturing hall, standing high atop a platform and looking down with oppressed anger.
'I thought we took you down for good,' his grim voice filled the deadly tense silence.
'Well, obviously you thought wrong,' Loki replied, relishingly smiling.
Fury strove to ignore the provoking scorn and pointed a demanding finger at the kept on hold Iron Man next to Loki.
'What have you done to Tony Stark?'
'I suppose you are very well aware of what I have done to him, for there is one among you who has already experienced that kind of sensation.'
Loki deliberatly glimpsed at the shadowy corner right beneath the ceiling where he had spotted the Hawkeye right away and with pleasure saw him cowering deeper into the darkness.
'Release him immediately,' Fury ordered firmly.
Loki lifted a brow, contemptuously smiling.
'And why should I? He is too precious an ally to just abandon him. Besides, you still ought to feel the step of my boot, little ants.'
Fury furrowed his brow fiercely.
'Then you leave me no choice.'
'I didn't intend to,' Loki replied in thrilled anticipation.
He gave Tony a triggering nod whereat the Iron Man got ready, lifted his hands and fired a wrecking blow into the forces standing by.
Seven people fell right on the spot and the next moment war broke loose. Heavy gunshots arose accompanied by flickering muzzle flashes, prying splinters of debris out of the wall where Loki should have been standing.
The God of Mischief shifted half a step beside this reality though and let the bullets pass, while he pointed his scepter at the gathered troops and joined the continuous attacks of the Iron Man.
Gleaming orange and blue discharges of energy exploded among the people, letting them die one by one until Loki detected a swift projectile coming from the Hawk's nest.
He facilely fended it off and aimed his next shot upwards to destroy the archer's paltry shelter. While distracted he didn't notice the versatile shape that approached from behind right away.
The slender figure targeted Tony though, grabbing his arms and disrupting his assault.
'Stop it, Stark, you are out of your senses!' the Black Widow yelled at him.
Tony didn't care at all, broke free from the grip and aimed a heavy strike at her.
She was faster yet, dodged the blow, ducked and landed a hit herself, throwing the Iron Man off balance.
Tony staggered for a second, while she seized the opportunity to hook a knee behind his leg and deprive him of his grounding.
Tony fell and she was immediately on top of him, struggling against his artificially amplified strength.
Loki had had enough of this, bent the dimensions and one moment later already grabbed for the agent's hair, pulling her back.
She let out a sudden scream of pain and surprise, when Loki tossed her to the ground and pointed the tip of the scepter at her.
'I remember I owe you the completion of a pledge as well, Agent Romanoff.'
The Black Widow barely managed to escape the blue ball of energy shot at her, rolled away and already fled from another discharge driving her further off, while the Iron Man came back to his feet resuming his attacks.
By then a small group of soldiers was closing in, so Loki branched off, whirled around and tossed a bunch of sharp daggers at them, letting every single one find its target.
The men fell instantly and so did the last few remaining opponents under Tony's heavy fire, when Loki decided to finally put an end to this.
He looked up at Director Fury and found him still standing on that platform with an emptied gun in his hands and helplessly watching his forces being slaughtered.
Loki smirked, vanished and reappeared right beside the one-eyed man, taking advantage of his blind spot and gravely smashing the staff against his head.
Caught in surprise Fury went down hard, while Loki already lowered one knee onto his chest and made him feel the sharp edged tip of the scepter at his throat.
'Are you trying to insult me, Director?' he hissed despisingly. 'You are not even fully prepared, yet you dare to oppose me? I shall grant you your life for now, so you can go fetch your patriotic soldier and the mindless beast, even my idiotic brother if you are able to, before you may face me again.'
Fury stared up at him in silent wrath, but didn't risk moving an inch.
Loki smiled upon the defeated man once more, then slowly rose and returned to the Iron Man's side, before they took their leave together.
After more then a week living at this place Loki had gradually grown fond of the nocturnal panoramic view of New York City as seen from top of the Stark Tower. As he had grown fond of living together with Tony Stark, even sharing the same sleeping place night after night.
Maybe it was because of that why Loki felt a bit uneasy knowing that S.H.I.E.L.D. was now fully aware of him possessing the Iron Man. He couldn't tell how much longer the Tower would provide a safe hideout. And for some reason the thought of leaving pained him.
A faint ray of light fell upon him when the door opened and Tony's shape got reflected in the glass in front of Loki.
'The suit is in maintenance,' Tony informed him and took a step closer.
'Good,' Loki didn't turn, still watching the sparkling city lights beneath him.
He was going to continue the attack on S.H.I.E.L.D.s installations holding back all his well prepared trumps until Fury would finally gather at least Captain America and the Hulk. Thor was still trapped in Asgard after all and Loki didn't know if he could find a way back to Midgard. It didn't matter though, he would just have to deal with him later.
Eventually Loki turned away from the view to face Tony.
'I've made you kill a lot of people lately, Tony Stark. Are you in pain by now?'
Without expecting an answer Loki stepped closer and put a hand on his chest, covering the gleaming reactor.
'Or might there be a part of your soul even enjoying this? You are no saint after all.'
Loki smiled teasingly, but not without a certain affection.
Tony stayed expressionless though, just looking at him.
Loki took a deep breath and broke away, aiming for the bed.
'Let us have some sleep. It's late.'
Later that night Loki was woken from his slumber by a quivering sensation right next to him. Suddenly alert he rolled over and found the scepter vibrating with energy.
Suspiciously he reached for the staff und began to trace for a cause.
The impression was familiar even. Somewhere in this realm a portal had been opened. And it wasn't of Chitauri origin. In fact it was inferior and barely stable. But something - or someone - arrived.
Loki knew, it could only mean one thing. Thor was coming.
And he couldn't hold back a gentle smile. Now the Avengers truly would be united.
Three more days passed and two more facilities fell before S.H.I.E.L.D. finally made its move.
Fury had chosen a rather remote and already deserted laboratory for his counterstrike and sent no additional forces other than the five available Avengers to intercept Loki's schemes.
Here they were. Thor, Captain America, the Hulk, Hawkeye and the Black Widow, united to face their defeat.
Accompanied by the Iron Man, Loki approached them confidently, reading the expressions on their faces with relish. Mainly there was disdain, mixed with hate and anger. Some showed slight tendencies of fear even.
Thor however was the most tense of all. His face was a vortex of emotions, ranging from hope to pain to wrath.
Loki smiled contentedly and decided to savor this precious moment a little longer.
'I did not think you would make it, brother, but I'm glad to welcome you to my final stand as well.'
Thor trembled in rage and took a step forward.
'Stop this immediately, Loki, while you still can. Free the Man of Iron and abandon your fancy intentions, I beg of you.'
Loki felt amused.
'You're begging, brother?' he asked scornfully. 'Why not kneel then?'
'Loki...' Thor came another step closer.
'Enough!' Loki brought him to a halt with an angry gesture. 'There is nothing you can do to stop me. You will all die here and now.'
He raised the scepter and without warning shot a blue energy discharge at the Avengers.
The five heroes scattered immediately and took their chance to engage, while the Iron Man already lifted off and started his attack from above.
The green giant was the first to reach Loki, right after a well aimed arrow launched by Hawkeye, but Loki avoided both easily by shifting himself through dimensions and throwing a series of energy charged strikes against the approaching Captain and agent.
The disruptions bounced off of the Captain's held up shield though, protecting Romanoff until they were close enough to join the fight.
Loki shifted, dodged and got to place one hit after another holding his adversaries off, so it took him a while until he realized that Thor was missing.
He managed to clear some space and kept a quick eye out for the god of thunder, finding him up in the air embroiled in fierce single combat with the Iron Man.
Thor fought like a berserker thrusting down Mjölnir without any restraint and hit by hit wrecked the golden-red armor which was protecting Tony.
That moment Loki finally saw through the Avenger's tactic.
The other four were stalling him, while Thor was to take out his aide.
Cold anger arose within him and Loki decided it was time to give them all a little glimpse of one of his carefully prepared aces.
So he called on the power of the Tesseract, opened the portals and summoned fifteen of his icy warriors, all of them armed to the teeth with Tony's developed weapons.
Yet before one of them was able to fire a single shot a blinding lightning struck from the heavens, drove right into the Iron Man and knocked him out of action.
Tony fell and crashed to the ground heavily, remaining immobile, while Thor landed next to him and attempted to heave the motionless body over his shoulder.
And something else had happened. Suddenly Loki couldn't feel Tony anymore, though he knew he hadn't lost control over him, but the connection was cut somehow.
Loki got hit by a very alarming thought. They would take away Tony!
'What are you waiting for?' he roared furiously at the still stunned Frost Giants and pointed at Thor. 'Attack!'
The blue warriors obeyed immediately, aimed their weapons and opened heavy fire at the god of thunder, which never was to reach him though, since the four Avengers suddenly ceased their assault, broke away and formed a line of defense protecting Thor and his valuable load.
Ahead of everyone Captain America got in the way fending off the bombardment with his unbreakable shield, while the Hulk happily engaged close combat with the Jötuns and Hawkeye started launching one perfectly aimed shot after another at Loki all of a sudden to keep him occupied with evading.
All Loki cared for though was Thor who was taking away Tony, feeling a vast and terrifying vacancy opening within.
'No!', he raged in blind wrath. 'You won't leave me! You won't betray me! I won't allow it! Not you!'
He didn't hear the approaching howl anymore, didn't want to be aware of the urgent sense of danger until it was too late.
Loki barely managed to escape the devastating impact of the multiple missiles launched at his position, slipping into another reality right at the very last moment, just to recover himself abandoned and alone.