“So there’s this thing,” Eleanor said to Chidi. They’d been drinking mai tais by the beach all afternoon, over a stack of celebrity gossip magazines and a thick tome of boring philosophy, respectively. The sun was just starting to dip over the horizon, turning the water a pinkish red. It was absolutely flawless. “Did you ever think you’d be bored, in the Good Place?”
“I don’t really think I had a definitive expectation of the afterlife,” he said, pushing his glasses up. “Islam, generally, doesn’t have the harps. Nice gardens, rivers of wine, maybe.”
“I thought there’d be boys dancing in tiny shorts, fanning me with palm leaves.”
Janet popped in. “Do you want dancing boys?”
“Not this time,” Eleanor said, and Janet popped out of existence again.
“I’m not a big fan of her constantly listening in,” Chidi mused.
“Can’t ever let us want for anything for even as long as it takes to say her name.” She sighed. “I never realized, on Earth how much, you know, almost fun it is to have needs. Like you get to realize you’re out of pineapple juice, complain about it, drive to the grocery store, and get a tub of guacamole that you don’t even need. I loved the complaining part the most, but also driving.”
“I hear you. Obviously, it took me longer to make some of those decisions. Public transportation takes longer but is more environmentally friendly, but I might be taking a spot on the bus from someone who has no other options. Obviously, standing on the bus ensures I’m not taking a spot from someone who needs it, but then I’m not getting any grading done, and my students deserved well-thought-out feedback, quickly.”
“Your life was just one big pile of decision fatigue, huh?”
“Let’s just say I wasn’t getting pineapple juice all that often.”
Eleanor laid back in her beach chair, enjoying the slight breeze. “You know, there was one reboot where you didn’t make any decisions.”
“That’s absurd. Decision-making is part of the human condition. Or was this some sort of torture?”
“It was more like... you ever watch that movie Secretary?”
She could hear his sharp intake of breath. “Was this a voluntary... surrender of power?”
“So I don’t know all the details, but Michael was showing me reboots. Obviously, I saw the one where we banged emotionally, one-nineteen. But this was two-seventy-three, and it was basically a kink-tastic hell-scape of pain and pleasure.”
His voice was ever so strangled. “And I assume you were in charge?”
“Large and in charge. I was just telling you what to do and stuff. But you were into it. Like, real into it.” She peeked over at him.
His face looked warm. His hand hovered over his stomach, and she waited for the groan that he had a stomach ache.
But then his hand moved down, lower, brushing over the front of his beach khakis.
They started out slow.
“Get me a cup of tea,” she told him from the couch.
“You don’t like tea,” Chidi said absentmindedly. “I once made use both tea, and you called it ‘leaf juice,’ and then when Simone came back, you told her I was trying to be British. Even after I explained that tea is enjoyed the world over, you called me ‘Gov’ner’ for a week.”
She looked at him, exasperatedly widening her eyes and jerking her head towards the kitchen.
“Oh. Oh.” He got up right away, power-walking to the kitchen. She could see him from her seat, carefully filling the teapot with trembling hands. After setting it on the stove, he moved towards his row of jars, picking whichever one would taste least bitter.
She tried not to stare, but it was exciting, knowing he was putting too much effort in just to make her something. She got out of her seat, just so she could better hear the sounds of his effort.
She ran back to her seat when she realized he was coming back, throwing herself back into the lounger seat, casually draping a leg over the arm of the chair.
He’d brought an entire tray, like he was Martha Stewart. He put out a tea cup on a little plate, then poured a cup for her. He let it sit for a moment before heaping a spoonful of sugar into the cup, swirling it until it completely dissolved, then added a little more.
She nodded approvingly, blowing on her cup before taking a sip. It was disgusting, like all tea, but it was hot that he’d made it just for her.
He disappeared for a minute, reappearing with some whiskey, which he added to her cup.
It tasted perfect.
“Kiss me, here,” she said, pointing at her collarbone.
He wiggled his eyebrows approvingly before leaning over to kiss her softly.
She shivered, arching herself into him. He touched the band of flesh between her jeans and the sweater, before moving his way to the cups of her bra. He massaged her gently.
She held up her arms, waiting for him to remove her top.
He pulled off the sweater quickly, and she expected the bra to follow. Instead, he pulled her back towards him, running his tongue on the edge of her collarbone. It was super hot, almost too much and not enough at the same time. She pulled out his shirt, tucked in under his sweater vest, and dug her nails into his back. She kept them short, duh, but he still hissed.
“Too much?” she whispered, and she felt him shake his head no. “Kiss me.”
While he was kissing her, she managed to unhook her bra. He groaned, and palmed her immediately.
She ordered him to remove his clothes. “You have to put on a show,” she said, sitting back like she was a reality show judge. “Make it good.”
He didn’t even blush. She expected an argument, but instead he grinned, humming something she eventually realized was an off-key rendition of “Big Spender.”
She laughed until he was on top of her again.
Later, much later, he told her he was ready.
“Ready for what?” she asked, snuggling into his side.
“I was watching a video...”
If Eleanor and Chidi had me the way regular people did-- in a Phoenix bar, on her birthday-- and done the whole ‘fall-in-love, move-in together” schtick, this new hobby would have been process, with trips to those shops off the highway, or online shopping and possible credit card debt the more they’d gotten into it. Eleanor could just picture Chidi studying books and manuals, his brow furrowed in concentration as he highlighted things he wanted to try. She could just picture him leaving her dog-eared pages to read on her lunch break. She probably would found videos instead, but it would have been cozy, the two of them learning together.
Instead, a quick consultation with Janet had resulted in a new room, grown off the kitchen and full of the kind of equipment that would make a porn director blush.
“Would you like a lesson?” Janet asked, a riding crop resting gently in her palm. “There’s a lot of safety points to consider.”
“No, you can go,” Eleanor said.
“You sent her away?” Chidi said, and she popped back in.
Janet presented a quick but thorough explanation of where it was safe to hit (fleshy parts) and where it wasn’t (everywhere else). She then took Eleanor around the room, giving her tips and tricks. Some of the pieces, like the St. Andrew’s cross, Eleanor skipped, noting that she had an eternity, at least for now, in which to learn more. Others, she lingered on, asking Janet for details.
“Can someone get like for real hurt here?” Eleanor mused. “This is the Good Place.”
“Given how many times we’ve been tricked, mislead, or endangered, I’d prefer we at least attempt for some safety practices,” Chidi said.
“There is no reason to believe that you can suffer lasting damage in the Good Place,”Janet said, popping back out of existence.
“I don’t love that answer.”
“It’ll be fine,” Eleanor said, looking over a row of cat-o-nine tails. She shivered, wondering what that would feel like, giving or even receiving. She felt her skin get a little hot at the thought. Later, she promised herself.
She turned to Chidi, whose face was tight. “We’re going to start slow,” she said, grabbing his hands. He looked relieved. “So you’re going to do whatever I want, no matter what it is--”
“I think that your requests have to be within the bounds of things I’d be willing to try--”
“And you totally get a safeword. Use it if you need it. And that word will be Kierkegaard.”
“And you won’t be mad?”
She leaned in, kissing him softly on the cheek. “If anything, I’ll be even more proud of you.”
She led him to the corner of the room, where there was a new-to-Eleanor piece of furniture. It was carved out of a walnut-colored wood, shaped like a throne, with intricate curved armrests, and a green velvet seat. Except, the seat had a large hole in the middle, perfect for a person to pop his head through. “This is the queening chair. You sort of wiggle underneath--”
He smiled. “Oh, I get it.”
She smirked. “But did you know that I can lock you in place?”
His eyes grew large.
She raised an eyebrow.
After a moment’s deliberation, he nodded.
She was almost shaking as she tried to lock him in place. She wished she could call Janet back in, but that felt like a sure boner-killer. This was why people read the manual, she thought.
Her fingers fumbled for a third time, trying to lock the bar in place. It was like working at a theme park, and she has to secure the rider or else he’ll go flying the minute there’s a turn. She knew that gravity is a given here, but buckling him in couldn’t hurt.
“Screw it,” she muttered. “Do you promise not to move?”
“No, wait. I demand you don’t move.”
She unbuttoned her jean shorts, her stupid fingers still fumbling, though she now could only blame the excitement.
She slid into the chair. He was facing her, looking like a woodchuck in an old carnival game.
She smiled down at him, then yanked her underwear aside.
He didn’t hesitate. It was sweet relief, just to have his mouth on her. She hadn’t realized how long in this multiverse she’d forgone her favorite type of sex. She wasn’t going to do that again.
His tongue worked her, finding his rhythm quickly. He kept his tongue on her center, just where she needed it.
Chidi, she thought fondly, and looked down at him. He was concentrating on her intensely, his eyes closed.
She could feel that sexy pressure building, and she knew she was close. Not close close, but close-adjacent, at least.
He wasn’t supposed to have room to do so, but he still managed to snake a hand out of the hole and press a finger into her. She felt full, bucking down against his finger. He moaned, and that made her moan too.
“Do it,” she yelled. “Make me come.”
He slipped another finger into her, and she pulled his head even closer to her.
It was then she felt that crest, felt herself lose all control. She rode it out as long as she could, before her nerve endings couldn’t take it. She pushed his head away, and relaxed against the back of the chair, letting those final bits of pleasure ebb away.
She didn’t even notice he’d gotten out until he spun her towards him. He had shed his pants, and was sporting that amazing erection she adored.
“I have another idea,” he said, a gleam in his eye. “If you demand it.”