Title: Ekphrasis
Disclaimer: I own absolutely nothing, all characters and original Roswell/Marvel verse settings belong to other very lucky people, as do all lyrics quoted for the chapter titles.
Pairings/Couples/Category: UC/Crossover. Liz/Bruce, Ava/Darcy, Thor/Jane, Tony/Pepper, other pairings will be incorporated as the story continues.
Rating: Adult
Summary: In which the smallest of small town girls (who saved the world once or twice) becomes an Avenger and starts doing it full time.
Warnings: Liz's inner monologue has a potty mouth so expect a lot of adult language, there are also several bisexual characters so if that bothers you, please go read something else, otherwise expect canon levels of violence, etc. Also, be warned that italics and parentheses are used and abused in this story. (And that Adult rating will be lived up to in the future.)

Author's Note: All hail to Erratic Hippie who has been betaing this story for me, you should all be very, very grateful to her for minimizing the amount of run-on-sentence-paragraph things. The ones that are left are totally not her fault. (We have spirited negotiations over commas. Which means I pout and whine and she makes it better. It's a thing.)

Also, this is more of a fusion than a true crossover. Basically Roswell is set in the Marvel (movie) verse. As for the timeline of when it's set, that you will discover as you read Enjoy!


~x~


tonight i'll have a look and try to find my face again

(In which Tess doesn't let Michael leave, the humans don't get there in time, and Liz is Done.)

~x~

Maria is driving, knuckles white against the steering wheel and tears trembling in her eyes, tinting everything green; Liz is in the passenger seat, wavering between hysteria and fury as her nails dig crescent moons into her palms until blood stains their unpainted surfaces; and Kyle is in the back, holding his head in his hands and trying to forget the heavy weight of Alex's dead body in his arms.

They're not going to make it in time.

Liz knows this, deep in her bones, and she also knows that they can't stop because maybe she's wrong, she's been wrong before, and this time she needs to be wrong because it can't end like this. Alex's killer does not just get to leave the planet with her bastard child and the lover that should never have been hers. Alex deserves better. Tess deserves worse.

Maria swerves, kicking up red desert sand with the Jetta's tires, and they all pile out of the trusty, battered vehicle before the engine has stopped rattling. Liz leads the sprint toward the pile of rocks that houses the granilith and the fate of their friends, her pulse a bitter beat she can taste like tabasco on her tongue. She pounds on the stone wall until her hands are scraped and bleeding and her throat is hoarse from screaming – first pleas, and then obscenities. She has to be wrong, she has to.

Kyle pulls her away when the ground begins to shake and she struggles against him until small rocks begin to fall, one striking her arm with a sudden, sharp pain that won't actually hurt until days later. Blood trickles sluggishly down her elbow and she goes limp in his arms as the realization that she wasn't wrong, that she failed, sinks in.

The ground continues to shake, rocks continue to fall, and one shuddering breath later, everything explodes. When she can see again, the cave is gone, they are gone, and only rubble remains.

Liz stares at the sky, at the dust sparkling in the air, and goes numb. Her brain, still processing too fast and too slow all at once, spits out the knowledge that three people she deeply cares for (and one she hates more than she ever thought she could hate anyone) are no longer on Earth and there is nothing she can do about it. Gone, just like that, a poof of alien science and the world is tilting on its axis, future careening out of control.

They will either rule their planet, or suffer unjust fates on all counts if Tess betrayed them too and not just AlexwhydidshekillyouAlexpleaseno.

Swallowing her scream, Liz turns to Maria and Kyle, also staring at the sky with wide, grief stricken eyes, and shakes her head until she feels a little less dizzy but no less despairing. "I'm done."

So done. So far past done that they need to invent a new word for how done she is. She hasn't stopped being heartbroken or furious or terrified or all of the above since she kissed Max last year and found the empty, howling abyss that was Nasedo instead. She is tired, of pain and hope and devastation, and it needs to stop.

Kyle reacts first, lowering his head to stare at her with blue eyes that are tired and angry and sad and so familiar it hurts. "Liz Parker never quits," he says, with the quiet confidence of someone who has been on the other end of Liz never quitting.

Liz shakes her head again and wraps an arm around Maria's shoulders, who is now trembling as tears run heedlessly down her face, dripping past lips that are painfully, wrongly, silent. "This time, she does," she answers with the bitter grief of someone who has lost a best friend because Liz Parker never quits. "We can't get them back. We can't help them. We can get ourselves killed, or worse, if the government ever decides we know what happened here. It's over."

And she won't let that happen, can't let that happen, can't lose anyone else, not to this, to alien conspiracies and stupid, stubborn, teenagers who think they can fix things.

Kyle doesn't argue again, just helps her get Maria in the car and drives them back to Roswell because Maria's shaking too badly and Liz isn't sure she'll be able to stop if she takes the wheel.

It's not running away when there's no one left to run from.

They end up at Kyle's house; no one ready to be alone although not one word is spoken, all of them trapped in hours of silence more loud than any explosion. Maria is sleeping on the couch, her head pillowed in Liz's lap, while Liz and Kyle silently ignore late night cartoons, when the Sheriff gets home. He looks at their pale, drawn faces, and the lines around his eyes deepen. "I'll let you know when we get the call about the jeep," he says solemnly, squeezes Kyle's shoulder, and leaves them to their grief.

Liz and Maria leave in the morning; it's Saturday but they have work and they have long since learned that normal life does not wait for the aftermath of alien crises or heartbreak to pass. Maria is quieter than Liz has ever seen her, but it is all she can do to hold her own smile on her face so she does not yet have the ability to help her best friend deal with the empty, gaping hole inside of them. It is half past one when the Sheriff walks in, stone-faced with eyes just a bit too shiny under the glow of the artificial lights. Liz swallows and places a hand on Maria's suddenly shaking arm as Jim walks up to her father, exchanging a few murmured words that cause him to pale and dart worried glances in their direction, before approaching the two of them with heavy steps that echo in time with her heartbeat.

Liz wonders if she'll ever stop being afraid of the words he might speak, even as she knows she'll never be afraid of the man (in or out of uniform) again.

"I've already told the Evans," he says, too quiet for anyone else to hear. "When they're...recovered, I will work with them to arrange," he pauses, for his benefit, not theirs, and takes a steadying breath before continuing, "funerals for all four of them."

Maria makes a broken, hurt noise in the back of her throat and Liz catches her before she falls. She allows enough grief to show on her face to be believable, but not enough to touch the wellspring of pain and rage that is boiling beneath the ice in her veins. (It is not safe for that to be let out, for anyone, not ever.) Her father comes running, wrapping his arms around her and her best friend, and she knows that in death, all of Max's faults will be forgiven.

It's done. It's over. And now it's time to learn how to be Liz Parker, smallest of small town girls again: she refuses to stop living just because she's forgotten how to do so without Alex and Max and Isabel and Michael and ragepainfeargrief being the center of that life.

They survive the funerals, somehow, even Tess's, while Kyle shakes with quiet fury and the Sheriff mourns because they never told him, not wanting to burden him with more pain than they have already caused.

Afterwards, they pick up the pieces and slowly begin to move on. Liz throws herself into normal life with a fierceness that thrills and terrifies her parents by turn. She aces every class, buries herself in every extracurricular she can think of, and one year after Alexthegraniliththey'regoneandthey'renevercomingback, she accepts the offer from Brown because she isn't the girl who dreamt of Harvard any longer.

That summer she spends every second with Kyle and Maria, the other two-thirds of the person she's become, and on the last night before she leaves they all get spectacularly drunk and say the things none of them have said since that day in the desert when seven lives ended and three began. "I love you," she tells them, completely sober for one second, and Kyle hugs her while Maria kisses her forehead and then they fall over, laughing, as the warm buzz of alcohol (family) carries them away again.

She double majors in molecular biology and physics because granilithtimetravelrippingthefabricoftimeandspace and when people tell her she's crazy she considers her course load and agrees. Then goes back to work with a smile on her face because she's learning, everything, and it's fucking fantastic.

At nineteen she melts her alarm clock one morning after less than three hours of sleep and stares at the green flickers underneath her skin with horror and fascination. Is this what Ava meant when she said that Liz was different now? Liz used to feel it, the changes, she wrote about the intensity filling her body in the journal she's long since destroyed, but then, then future Max, and Alex, and she stopped listening to her body, stopped listening to anyone until it was too late.

Whatever it is, she is desperately grateful that this didn't happen in high school, didn't happen when the FBI was still dogging their every footstep, because she knows she would have ended up on a lab table and they would have never let her go. (Although some part of her, a voice in the back of her mind she's never been able to muzzle, wonders if things would have been different if she'd developed powers back then. Maybe everything would have turned out better. She's suddenly, fiercely, glad (and furiously sad) that the granilith is gone and that she has absolutely no ability to meddle with time, again.)

She learns to control the electricity that sparks when she's upset, and the molecular manipulation that follows after, and pretends that she doesn't sometimes dream things before they happen. She learns, controls, and compartmentalizes it all into a box in the back of her mind, calls Kyle to warn him, and goes back to being normal because goddamnit she is finally living the life she always wanted and she's not giving it up now.

She loses her virginity at twenty to a boy she meets in the library, and loses it again the next night to her roommate who finally confesses her crush and proceeds to show Liz why she and Maria shouldn't have stopped experimenting at kissing back in ninth grade. (When she tells Maria and Kyle this on one of their weekly Skype calls, Kyle blushes and his eyes go a little glazed with 'what ifs' and Maria laughs and admits that she's already had four boyfriends and three girlfriends (occasionally at the same time) but that Liz is her sister and that's just weird.)

It's not what people in Roswell would expect of her, for her, but she threw Perfect Miss Parker under the bus years ago and hasn't looked back once. (And thank fucking God because Perfect Miss Parker was Perfectly Awful and Liz, Liz is much more fun, and much more real.) Living, doing the normal things that people her age do instead of things most people could never dream of, there's something magic about it that she knows she'll never stop appreciating.

There are others, male and female, before she reaches her fourth year of two majors and drops every remnant of a social life as she works her ass off to get both degrees done in less than five years.

One night during her last spring break, on one of her rare visits home – because oh my god she is crazy and if she looks at one more textbook she will scream – she curls up with Maria and Kyle on Kyle's couch again, sharing a bottle of whiskey, and tells them about quantum immortality. "So you know the theory of the multiverse right? That every decision, or at least every significant decision, that you make, creates multiple universes based on your choices. So that there's a universe out there where you said yes to that proposal at seventeen, and one where you said no, and then an infinite number after that for every following turning point in your life, including the ones that have more than two options and thus create more possible outcomes."

"Only you, Liz Parker, could give me this big of a headache before the hangover," Maria mutters, affectionately pinching Liz's side, then steals the bottle of whiskey from her and takes another swig before Kyle shushes her and gestures for Liz to continue.

Liz rolls her eyes with equal affection, tickles Maria's feet, waits for the giggles to subside, and resumes her train of thought. "So, quantum immortality is the idea that when you die, your soul or consciousness or whatever, snaps over to the next universe, the one most similar to the one you were living in, and you don't actually die. And this continues, basically forever, every time one version of you dies."

"Alex," Kyle says, quietly, and Liz nods as Maria suddenly stills, setting the whiskey bottle on the floor and pulling them both closer until they're a tangled pile of limbs and heartbeats and smiles and unshed tears.

"He's out there," Maria says firmly, one hand curled in Liz's hair, the other wrapped around Kyle's ankle. "Rocking out a sold out concert while girls throw panties at him."

"Or rocking the geek world, working for alternate universe Tony Stark," Liz adds with a grin that only shakes a little at the edges.

"I always pictured him reincarnated as a guitar pick, but I like this theory too," Kyle muses, and the girls both laugh and hold him tighter and they spend the rest of the night remembering until the Sheriff comes in at three in the morning and steals their second whiskey bottle.

The summer before her last semester (two majors and a minor – anthropology, for her grandmother – in five semesters and god does that feel good, even if her distinctively competitive side sometimes mourns the early graduation she gave up for alien hunting and teenage romance) she needs some hands on experience and goes hunting for internships.

When she sees the listing for Drs. Foster and Selvig, astrophysicists, and the description of their research, it scrapes like sandpaper against old wounds and she almost clicks away. But, despite not being her specialty (she's debating between biophysics and quantum mechanics for her masters in that field), it's close to home and she'll be able to visit Kyle and Maria at UNM (none of them like to actually go home for the summer, or like summer at all, really), so she sends off her resume and pretends she's a normal girl who never looked at the stars and knew there was something out there.

She's done it, she's doing it, and no matter where she goes next, she knows she's finally on the right track.

No more alien madness, no more hiding and lying and nightmares that bleed into the real world.

She's Liz Parker and her life is her own.