Alcohol distillation: The one thing that Tony and Bruce, with all their doctorates and their science and their toys, can't ever seem to get right.
Natasha wrinkles her nose, and spits the contents of her mouth into a plant, followed by the rest of the glass. The leaves start to droop almost instantly.
"Seriously, Stark? You expect people to drink that? I bet if I dipped my fingernails in that stuff the polish will come off."
"Oh, come on, Romanoff. You Russians drink vodka that can fuel a convoy of Sherman tanks."
Natasha shoots him a look somewhere between amusement and where do I put that stiletto heel.
"There's a reason I left the place. But if you really want to make something drinkable with that still of yours, why not ask Clint?"
She fiddles briefly with her smartphone, then turns back to Tony, who seems offended at the mere thought that there might be a being in existence who knows more about something than he does.
"Barton? What does he know about biochemistry?"
His eyes shift of to the side as he chases a series of thoughts, makes connections, draws conclusions. Natasha can practically hear the gears grinding.
"Oh, I get it: Hillbilly. Flyover hick. Country bumpkin."
"You called, Stark?"
Clint saunters into the lab with his usual swagger, winks at Natasha and heads straight for the still. With deft fingers, he makes a few adjustments -- including one that elicits a 'Hey! Don't touch that, it's fragile!' from Tony, which Clint aggressively ignores.
He mutters something about shitty ingredients and respect for the classics, disappears into the kitchen and returns with a handful ears of corn and a bag of potatoes. (The benefits of a well-stocked kitchen and occupants with a penchant for carbs.)
"Someone get me some Mason jars?"
He goes to work, whistling a jaunty John Denver tune.
That evening, Tony is silent for some ten minutes, for the first time in recorded memory. Bruce flickers between green and pink a few times, until a look of peaceful bliss settles on his features and he starts to snore. Thor pronounces the brew to be "almost worthy of Asgard," while Cap happily sings the D-O-D-G-E-R-S song a few times, the lyrics becoming more indistinct with each rendition.
Later, up on the roof, Clint and Natasha clink glasses as the lights of the city twinkle beneath them. Somewhere to the East a police siren echoes in the urban canyons.
“To the last man and woman standing.” If Clint is trying to keep the smugness out of his voice, it’s a resounding failure. “And to the Dread Pirate Roberts, who taught us the benefits of building up immunities.”
Natasha looks up at the scudding clouds, backlit by a silver light that breaks through intermittently.
“To the heartland,” she says, swishing the golden liquid around in her mouth. “And the moon. Long may it continue to shine.”