"So are we doin’ this?"
"I'm just sayin', Mikey, from one dirtbag to another - you know you're into this hot stuff here, and you have, like, that Joe-Biden-ish silver fox thing going on - "
“We all know what your type is, Eleanor, and it’s not me, unless I’ve suddenly acquired either Tahani’s breasts or Stone Cold Steve Austin’s jawline.”
"- but hear me out, man. I think we’ve got a thing going on.” She leaned in closer, flirtatiously. “I see the way you look at me sometimes. You perv.”
Quickly, Michael moved his hand to his chest, right above where his heart would be if a demon wearing a human costume had a heart.
“Are you implying,” Michael said, in his prissiest Moral Authority of the Neighborhood voice, “that you think we should - what, ‘hook up’? Me, the immortal architect of the Good Place neighborhood you reside in, and you, the human soul in my tender care.”
“Uh, when you put it like that, fork yes.”
Michael sat back in his chair, set down his gluten-free danish, and examined her.
“I could take my bra off if that’s the sort of thing that gets you going,” she offered, helpfully. “What are you into, anyway? Because I’m good at roleplay. Just ask that guy I picked and ditched at the South Phoenix Bowling Alley that one time, I mean, he really acted like he thought I was actually Taylor Swift’s first cousin.” She shrugged. “We were both super into it.”
“You called me a dirtbag,” he said, instead.
“Just now. You said, oh, what exactly was it - Janet?”
Janet appeared in a blink of business-suit-vested existence. “Yes, Michael?”
“What did Eleanor say after she asked me if we were, and I quote, doing this?”
Janet beamed at both of them. “I believe Eleanor said: I’m just sayin', Mikey, from one dirtbag to another - you know you're into this hot stuff, and you have, like -”
“Thanks a bunch, Janet,” Eleanor interrupted. “We get it.”
“Always a pleasure!”
Michael arched an eyebrow. “So?”
“I’m not a dirtbag,” Michael said, sitting up straighter and brushing an invisible speck of Doesn’t Belong off the table. “I’m a Good Place architect. This is the Good Place.”
“I mean, we’re all dirtbags at heart, right?” She socked Michael in the arm, harder than necessary. “Ya dirtbag. See, it’s ‘cause I like you.”
“Eleanor.” Michael leaned in closer. “I don’t believe you.”
“Ugh,” Eleanor said. “Okay, Mr. Smarty Pants. So you got me. So I figured out that this - hellscape around us" - she gestured at the multiple gluten-free bakeries lining the street - "is actually, oh, how do you say it? Oh, yeah. THE BAD PLACE. And no way are you a Good Place architect. And I’m thinking, in that case, why not just get down and dirty with our demon captors? Like, let’s all stop pretending gluten-free Fauxnuts are actually a legitimate replacement for doughnuts and cut the crap, my friend.”
“Well, phooey,” Michael said, and threw down a napkin. “And things were going so well.”
“Although I’ll admit this seduction thing is a new one,” he continued. “What did you think was going to happen here, Eleanor? That we were going to do - it - and then I’d give you the key to the secret back entrance to the Good Place and send you and your band from the Island of Misfit Toys on your merry way?”
Eleanor stuck her chin out, stubbornly. “I mean, maybe, dude.”
Michael snapped his fingers, and the world disappeared.
"Chidi," Michael interrupted, "why are you reading me the poetry of John Donne?"
Chidi squinted. "Are you enjoying it?"
"That doesn't quite answer my question."
Chidi adjusted his glasses, flipped nervously past the religious sonnets, and cleared his throat.
“Where,” he continued stalwartly onward, “like a pillow on a bed -”
“You do realize I’m a being of incomparable knowledge, who has existed and studied humanity for literally thousands of your miniscule years?”
"And has it occurred to you that, perhaps, in those thousands upon thousands of years of study, that I might have spent, oh, a century or two focusing on the art of poetry?”
"It had not."
“I also know everything that’s happened in your life. Which means I know that poetry is the only move you know how to make, including one love poem in particular, written by a twelve-year-old Chidi and passed to a girl in his classroom. I believe it went:
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Ethically speaking - ”
“ - I am obligated to tell you that I like you,” Chidi finished in a mortified whisper.
“So my question is: why me, Chidi?”
“You find me sexy.”
Michael leaned forward.
“Tell me what you find sexy about me, Chidi.”
“Your…” Chidi gave Michael a desperate once-over. “...Thighs?”
“Ugh.” Michael shuddered.
“Your face!” Chidi corrected in a rush. “I mean, obviously your face. And your - lips. Mouth. I mean, lips. I mean, your mouth and the whole…” He gestured at his own chin-ish area. “You know, those things you have?”
“You need to tell me what’s really going on, Chidi.”
Chidi screwed up his face. “Just unfettered…sexual…desire.”
Chidi tightened up his mouth, shook his head, closed one eye and then the other, breathed hard a couple times, then shook his head back and forth again. “Fine! I know we’re in the Bad Place. We all know we’re in the Bad Place.”
Michael brought his hands together. “Chidi, suppose we are in the Bad Place. Do you really believe you’ll escape by having sexual relations with an immortal, in order to trick him for your own gain? Wouldn’t that mean you’re supposed to be here?”
Chidi brought out a paper bag from his pocket and began to breathe heavily into it. “I knew this wouldn’t work.”
“And isn’t lying itself unethical?”
“Yes! But Eleanor was just so sure about this plan, and she seemed to think that, I don’t know, you were my type? Or I was your type? I don’t know, it all made sense a couple hours ago. Oh, no...”
Michael let him go on for a few more minutes, then raised his hand and snapped his fingers.
" - and I was like, bro. Bro. If the Jaguars can draft a kicker in the seventh round then Dirty Julio's beatboxing can totes get us into the semi-finals of the Jacksonville Underground Dance-athon 2016, breakdance division. You feel me?"
"Jason," Michael said solemnly. "I feel you."
"Then let’s do this. Make it raaaaaain." Jason tore off his pants in a single tug. "Janet made me tear-away monk pants. They're dope.”
"Ah. I feel - suddenly - that we are not exactly on the same page."
"First up, you should know I'm not into butts, but hand stuff and BJs are da bomb. Unless - " Jason stopped halfway through taking off his tunic. “You’re an angel, right? Do angels have, you know, all the normal junk up front? I mean, it’s cool either way. We’ll figure it out,” he promised, continuing to undress.
“I never - ”
“So you don’t have a dick or whatever ‘cause you’re an angel. No big. Everybody’s got their thing, man.”
“As" - Michael struggled for the right words - “incredibly kind as that sentiment is, Jason, I can assure you that we will not be having sex.”
Jason laid a hand on Michael's arm. "I believe in you, dawg."
"Right. Let me guess. You've - let's see - perhaps realized that this is not, in fact, the Good Place."
Jason's face twitched unhelpfully.
"And, let's say, a certain birdie by the name of Eleanor sung in your ear about getting on my good side to figure out if there was a way out of here. Here being, of course, the Bad Place."
"She's not a bird, homie," Jason said with dignity. "She's a woman."
"And you decided the best way to accomplish this was by, how do you say? Ah. Dicking it out. With me."
"Daaaaaawg," Jason agreed happily, now completely naked.
With a pained expression, Michael snapped his fingers.
“And are you enjoying your petit fours, Michael?”
“Oh yes. I mean, tiny cakes! It’s brilliant. Leave it up to humans to take a delicious, giant, wonderful slice of cake and...give you less of it.”
“And it’s such a beautiful day. I mean, it’s always beautiful here, but today seems especially beautiful, somehow.” Tahani smiled, then glanced down, fluttering her eyelashes. “Perhaps it’s the company.”
Michael devoured another chocolate petit four and nodded.
“You know, this puts me to mind of something my dear friend Beyoncé would say to me. ‘Tahani,’ she’d say, ‘who run the world? Girls. Seize the day, my friend!’” She laughed, flipping her hair back behind her shoulder. “I believe she wrote a song about the subject at some point. And so - ” Tahani tipped her chin upwards, fetchingly. “You may kiss me now, Michael.”
“I’m ready,“ Tahani declared, puckering her lips up.
Michael sighed. “Oh dear.”
Tahani cracked an eye open. “Do you not want to kiss me?”
“Are there other options available?”
She frowned. “I mean, we could kiss romantically on a boat while punting. Or I could arrange an intimate constellation-viewing party for the two of us and we could kiss as the moon rises majestically above us. Or…”
“All of these scenarios seem to involve kissing.”
“You know,” Michael said, leaning back, “I have to say I’m disappointed in you, Tahani. I thought a seduction attempt from you would be top-notch, really grand, and instead you’ve given me inadequate cakes and a second-rate picnic blanket.”
“Michael!” Tahani gasped. “You were just saying you loved the cakes!”
Michael rolled his eyes. “I’m a demon. We lie.”
“You - you’re - ”
“Let’s skip over the part where you pretend to be surprised by this fact, shall we?”
Tahani set down her wine glass with an authoritative thump. “Fine. I know this is the Bad Place. And Eleanor said I was the strongest candidate for a seduction ploy, naturally, and so here I am.”
“Eleanor said that?” Michael laughed. “That’s rich. You’re the last one to try to pull off this charade. Eleanor knew that if I had to sleep with one of four, with all of your weird elbows and human…” - he fluttered a hand by his neck - “throats...you would be the last one I’d choose.”
“Well, I never!” she huffed. “I’ll have you know that I was considered very desirable on Earth. The Rock and Justin Bieber once subtweeted each other about a dress I wore to the Met Ball.”
Michael shrugged. “Even Jason got further than you, and he was wearing tear-away pants.”
“Jas - !” she started to exclaim, indignant, but Michael had already snapped his fingers.
"Michael," Janet announced, "I believe we should have sex."
Michael put down the blueprints he’d been examining, attempting to figure out how to reconfigure Tahani’s house to impose more on Eleanor’s space. “Oh no.”
“Oh yes!” Janet said, cheerfully. “I’ve been told that having sex will make me a sexier person. A Sexy Janet, if you will.”
“And who told you this?”
“My BFF Eleanor.”
“Your BFF. Your BFF Eleanor. And she told you that we - as in, the two of us - ” Michael gestured between himself and Janet. “ - should have sex.”
“No, not the two of us. Human history has shown that the best sex is always forbidden in some way. So, I am actually here with Bad Janet.”
Bad Janet popped into existence behind Michael wearing fishnet stockings and a leather corset, drinking from a bottle of low-shelf whiskey. “Hey, dummies.”
Good Janet walked over and put her arm around Bad Janet. “We’re going to rock your world and turn us both into Sexy Janets.” Bad Janet turned to Good Janet, and she brought her free hand up to the other Janet’s cheek. As they both turned in, Bad Janet pushed Good Janet away, causing Good Janet to stumble against the corner of Michael’s desk.
“Wait. Why do either of you want to become sexy? Neither one of you needs to be sexy as part of your programming.”
Good Janet, having recovered her balance from being pushed, said in her typical perky voice, “Eleanor said I would be better at my job if I was sexier. I would make life here easier and better. Making life better for the residents is reason enough for me.”
Bad Janet, wiping her mouth, said, “Duh, being in a threesome with an Architect and a Good Place Janet would make me an even Badder Janet. A badass Janet.”
Michael put his head in his hands.
“How is this supposed to help Eleanor?” he asked, more to himself than either of the Janets.
Good Janet undid the top button of her vest. “Unclear.”
“Maybe she just wants to mess with you, dude,” Bad Janet said.
“Hey, Michael, I have a - “ Bambadjan opened up the door, then put both his hands up. “Oh, sorry.”
Bad Janet took another slug from the bottle. “This is exactly what it looks like, dickwad.”
“That’s it!” Michael snapped. “Both of you, you’re coming with me. Not you, Bambadjan.”
“Michael, I was going to give my body to you!” Janet pleaded as he reached for the red button. “I thought we had something speci - ”
“Like you’re demon enough to even do it,” Bad Janet said, filing her nails next to a red reset button adjacent to the second urinal in the men’s bathroom of the Good Plate. “Shawn is going to notice if you start resetting Bad Janets.”
“Well, that’s a risk we’re all going to have to live with, isn’t it?” Michael snapped. “Honestly, all I want to do is cruelly torture condemned souls for all eternity in a harassment-free work environment. Is that too much to ask?”
“Whatever, loser. You couldn’t have handled the two of us, anyway.”