May stood outside. "You didn't need to call 911, I had it under control."
"Under control?" Daisy looked at her. "The wall was on fire." she held up a chunk of hair that was now missing. "I need a new haircut from pulling you away from that fire."
"I was putting it out."
"With the tiniest extinguisher ever - for a wall that was on fire." Daisy said on the hood of their car. "Wall on fire - I call firemen."
"I still don't know what went wrong. I followed the recipe." Melinda frowned a little. The firemen were starting to leave the house.
"What went wrong was you in a kitchen."
"I'm not that bad." Melinda protested.
"Do you want the tally? To be fair though, wall on fire is new. I'll add it to the list."
Melinda ignored that and watched the firemen come out of the house. They removed their helmets and talked among themselves.
"Huh, so firefighters can look like they do in calendars. Well I mean the two young ones." Daisy said softly.
"They're all attractive." Melinda said looking at the older man. His hair was thinning and he had crow's feet but when he grinned it lit him up. He slapped the female fire fighter on the arm and walked over to them.
"Hello, I'm Captain Coulson, who's residence is this?"
"Mine." Melinda said. "Captain?"
"Busy night, most of my guys are at a fire on 5th, so had to suit up." he explained. "Your work did help, but you really need to leave it to the professionals. The structure seems fine. Mainly because your walls are concrete under the dry wall?"
"Converted gas station."
Phil blinked. "I'm sorry?"
"This used to be a gas station, the original structure was all concrete in case of explosion. My uncle converted it into a home and I inherited."
Daisy looked at May in surprise, she never gave up this much personal information.
"Well that explains the spacious corner lot." he joked. "You got lucky. You should stay somewhere else tonight, the smoke smell is pretty heavy and you'll want insurance to come in. Also, were you trying to deep fry with olive oil, it has a really high smoke point."
"Olive oil is healthy."
Daisy groaned. "You are banned from kitchens for goddamn life."
"Your partner is right, that was a really bad idea. Peanut or sunflower oil." he gave them a serious head nod. "Glad everyone got out safely."
"Thank you for your assistance."
"I'm not her partner." Daisy said quickly. "Well, I am, but like work, not like partner partner, bump bits in the night partner." Both Melinda and Coulson just looked at her. "And I'm going over there to Expedia a hotel room."
"Okay then." Coulson answered. "We're going to go then after that bit of disturbing share time."
Melinda just sighed a little. "Thank you again."
She watched the fire truck leave and went to Daisy. "What the hell was that?"
"What?" Daisy tried to bluff.
"Bump bits in the night?"
"I just didn't want him to get the wrong impression."
"Why would that even matter?"
"Because you were giving him the May Flirt Eye."
"The May Flirt Eye?"
"It was only defcon 3 but you know, it was there. It is the look you have when you either want to kill someone or have the sex." Daisy grinned.
"There is no look." Melinda said firmly. "You have a hotel room for us?"
"Better. We can go crash at Simmons's place. That way we have clean clothes for the morning."
Melinda nodded and drove them across town. Daisy filled in the yawning Jemma about the Look.
"There was no look." Melinda repeated.
She was ignored.
"I know you." Phil said as he paused walking to his men coming out of the building. "Gas station house, 3 weeks ago."
Phil was about to say more when Sam approached. "Hey Captain, seems someone forgot the popcorn in the microwave. Didn't cause a fire, but a hell of a lot of smoke and pretty sure the microwave needs a proper burial."
Phil looked at the woman beside him. "Another cooking mishap?"
"It wasn't -"
"Hey Captain, this the lady Clint was talking about?" Sam asked.
Phil ignored it. "You were saying?"
"The microwave has a popcorn button. Why would it have a popcorn button if it isn't going to function properly?" Melinda said. "Why do I have to stand there and watch the popcorn when there is a popcorn button?"
Phil and Sam looked at her like she was crazy. "Everyone knows you don't use the popcorn button." Sam finally said.
Phil pulled a pen out of his uniform pocket and found a scrap of paper in a pocket. He used the side of the truck to write and then handed it to her.
"The direct line to the fire station for the next time you start a fire, it will be easier." Phil said dryly.
"So you work here?" Phil asked.
"I own the dojo." May said. She started to say more but Phil's walkie talkie called out an address and they were running to the truck.
Phil was driving and Sam sat next to him. "Hey, Captain?"
"Next time, you say here is my number please call me so that I can take you out for a drink, dinner, a weekend away."
"I don't know what you are talking about." Phil took a corner hard.
"Clint said you were talking about her for a week."
"It was an absurd fire."
"You kept mentioning eyes as deep as the ocean."
"I did not." Phil said quickly.
"After that 4th shot of bourbon you did."
"Oh look a big fire, go stop it."
"Sure thing boss." Phil stayed on the side coordinating the men.
Later back at the station he sighed when Sam told the crew about seeing the woman again.
It really wasn't that big a deal.
"At a certain point, I do have to wonder if this is pathological." Phil said. "Do you have a problem, do you need help?"
"This fire is not my fault." Melinda said.
"There is a toaster oven on fire, and there is you." Phil said.
"Okay, cargo shorts." she sneered. "This is Costco, you know I don't work at Costco. And in fact the pizza rolls dripped and caught fire that the poor teenager was working at. I was at least 20 feet away looking at rugs."
"Hey all my other clothes were dirty, I'm here to get laundry soap." Phil protested. "And I still feel that perhaps this was your fault." The manager had come over and was trying to profusely thank Phil and offering to pay for his groceries that day. Phil kept trying to wave it off until the man forcibly took Phil's cart away and said it would be waiting at the front for him.
Melinda looked at him. He did have nice legs in the rather hideous shorts. "It was nice how you rolled to the rescue on the back of your cart."
"It was faster than running. Cleared the crowd." but he blushed a little. "So rugs."
"They really tie the room together."
"Did you just make a Lebowski joke?" Phil smiled.
"Enjoy your afternoon Captain Coulson." Melinda nodded to him.
"Hi Melinda." Phil watched his hand come up and give a dorky wave. Natasha would die laughing at him if she saw him now.
"Okay, this fire was absolutely, mostly, kind of not my fault." Melinda said to Phil. "And if you are the captain, how come you are out on these calls, shouldn't you be at the station?"
"He likes driving the truck, he makes siren sounds as he drives." a man said as he walked by.
"Thank you Clint, I'm sure you'll enjoy those dinner dishes when we get back."
"Aww, dishes." he pouted but kept walking back to the truck.
"And how is this mostly not your fault?" Phil asked Melinda.
"A friend owns the restaurant. I went back to the kitchen to say hi, as I often do and then there was a crash and then this chain of events that lead to a flambe getting out of hand."
"I'm surprised." Phil said.
"That a friend would let you anywhere near a kitchen, especially a professional one."
Melinda gave him a dirty look and then shrugged. "Technically, I'm supposed to just knock on the door and then take 10 paces back." she admitted.
Phil couldn't even laugh. "I...have you considered life as a super villain?"
"Charming." Melinda looked at the restaurant. "It's okay in there right?"
"Yes. Mostly the ceiling is going to need a paint job and a couple pans were destroyed. A few hundred dollars at most."
Melinda breathed a little easier.
Phil reached out and squeezed her shoulder. "Hey, sorry about all the jokes."
Melinda smiled. "To be fair, you've only ever seen me when fire is involved."
"Would you maybe -"
"Melinda Qiaolian May, you best start running." a large man was bearing down on them.
"The friend chef?" Phil asked.
"Uh-huh." Melinda agreed. "Mack's a good guy."
"He has a meat tenderizer in his hand." Phil squared his shoulders. "Go, I'll distract him." Phil stepped forward. "Hello, I'm Captain Coulson, we should talk about proper storage of fire extinguishers in restaurant environments."
Melinda disappeared around the fire truck, Mack would calm down by morning.
You had to like a man who engineered an escape for you.
"Phil?" Melinda said surprised. "I didn't start any fires." He was there in a regular department truck, not the full fire truck. And he was alone.
"We, uh, got an anonymous call that your building might not be up to fire code and I came to investigate." Phil looked embarrassed.
"We just had an inspection 2 months ago." Melinda said. "You can come into my office, I can show you the certificate."
"I would appreciate that." Phil followed her into the back hall. "Melinda, why does that fire alarm say investigate me?"
Melinda looked up where sure enough the words were written in sharpie on the ceiling. There was also a handy ladder right there. Melinda was going to kill Daisy.
Phil moved over the ladder and handed Melinda his clipboard. He climbed up a few steps and pulled at the tab to look at the batteries. He tested it and it worked fine. But he did show Melinda where in small print it said:
Ask her out already
"If I light her on fire are you obligated to put her out?" Melinda asked.
"I am and I would probably have you arrested." Phil put the cover back and climbed down the ladder. "I'm sorry, but with the call, I do have to finish the inspection."
"Of course." Melinda agreed and they walked around until Phil was satisfied. He signed off on a few pages and had her do so as well.
They stared at each other. "I'll just be on my way then." Phil said awkwardly.
Melinda froze for a moment and he just sort of nodded at her and started to walk away. She didn't think and grabbed the long stem lighter from by the incense on the wall. She lit it and dropped it in the trash can. "Help. Fire." Shit, it had actually started a bit of a fire.
Phil hurried over and it was easily smothered with his uniform jacket. He stared at her in shock. "You could have just called my name."
"Okay, I suck at dating that doesn't involved a bottle of whiskey and hauling a guy into a hotel room."
"Is this you asking me out on a date?" Phil asked. "And for the record, I wouldn't object to that sort of plan."
"It is." Melinda looked at her garbage can. "Badly."
"I can cook." Phil said. "If you stay where I put you, away from things with cords and fire, I could cook for you."
"I'd like that."
"I do have to fine you for starting a fire in your place of business."
Melinda nodded in understanding.
He gave her the ticket and his address and personal number.
"I made sure to call the other station." Phil stood on the curb in his boxers. May was beside him in his undershirt.
"Yup but you see, when a captain calls in a fire, well it's all hands on deck." Clint grinned and Natasha and Sam weren't much better behind him.
"I said the fire was out, was just calling it in as a matter of course." Phil said. The three fire trucks with full sirens on were drawing the neighbours out.
"But you can't be too sure, better we were all here to check for an ember, a bit of a smolder."
"I don't know, think the captain had a bit more than a smolder going on in there." Natasha said. All the firefighters around them started to laugh.
"Don't you do public lectures about the dangers of candles in the bedroom, Captain?" Sam asked.
"Once, I did that once, after that big fire at that hotel." Phil muttered. It was getting cold and no one had offered him a blanket, too busy with the teasing.
"Romance is a wonderful thing, but so is not burning to a crisp in the middle of lovemaking. The only burning should be in your hearts, not on your sheets." Clint quoted, ever helpful.
Melinda looked at him. "You didn't."
"He did, we have it on video. He was very sincere." Natasha offered. "We've also put him in this year's station calendar. I trust you'll buy a copy?"
"I'll buy 20 if it gets all of you out of here." Melinda answered.
"The bed is ruined." Clint said. "Not sure your plans will work out."
Melinda looked at Phil's crew who were all grinning madly and Phil who was just dying. "Well, it's a good thing he's so good at against the wall sex then isn't it?" she smiled and grabbed Phil's hand and dragged him back towards the house as all the firefighters cheered.
Phil closed the door after them and the lights of the trucks finally went away.
"I'm transferring to another state in the morning." he groaned.
"I promise you'll forget all the embarrassment." Melinda said.
"I don't know, this was pretty humiliating." but Phil let her drag him to the couch and held her close when she climbed on top of him.
"Trust me." Melinda kissed him.
When she pulled away, Phil brushed her hair away from her face. "The memory is getting hazy."
"I'm just getting started. You won't just forget the fire, you'll forget your name."
She was right.
And all her friends enjoyed the firefighter calendars they got as Christmas gifts.