When Chidi was alive, he’s not sure he ever really expected to find himself in heaven one day. He definitely never expected to find himself hiding down an alleyway in heaven, having a panic attack.
The great moral philosophers have answered a lot of questions. Or they’ve offered thoughts on a lot of questions, at least. Concrete answers aren’t really their thing.
As far as Chidi knows, none of them have said what to do if God kisses you.
This can’t be happening, can it?
He needs to talk to someone about this. He needs to get some advice, or at least get this completely insane fact out of his throat before he explodes.
But Eleanor might not want people to know. Kissing him might be an embarrassing thing to do, especially if you’re some kind of celestial being of unimaginable power. He’d probably be wronging her by talking about it.
So he has to stay quiet about it. Forever. Which, in this case, means literally for eternity.
Okay. There’s one person he can talk to about this, at least. He can talk to Eleanor. Right?
He cannot talk to Eleanor.
What is he supposed to do?
“Ah, yes,” Michael says. “Soulmates. Those are a real thing we have here in the Good Place.”
“I love the idea,” Chidi says. “I’m a huge fan. But, uh... just hypothetically, because obviously, uh, as a moral philosopher, I’m interested in hypotheticals. If someone knew who their soulmate was, but they weren’t actually in a relationship with their soulmate, and they happened to get involved to... to some undefined extent with someone else. Would that be considered cheating? You know, on a cosmic level?”
“Hold on,” Michael says. “This is an area of human behaviour I’m a little fuzzy on. Janet, could I have a dictionary, please?”
This doesn’t entirely reassure Chidi that he’s about to get a solid answer, but he’s prepared to give it a chance.
Michael leafs through the dictionary. “Cheat. To defraud or swindle. No, I think that’s something completely different.”
“Uh,” Chidi says.
“If you, for example, pretended your soulmate had hit you with a car so you could extort compensation, that would be considered cheating.” He pats Chidi on the shoulder. “I hope that helps.”
A moment passes.
“Thank you,” Chidi says.
Why would Eleanor want to kiss him? It’s not like they’ve talked that much.
No, wait, she knows everything about everyone, right? All the things they’ve done, all the points they’ve gained. He never really thought about it, but... maybe you do kind of develop an interest in people from afar, if you’re basically a god. Only able to watch, not able to talk to them until they die. Maybe not even then, if they go to the Bad Place.
It seems kind of lonely.
Why did it feel so familiar?
He sees Eleanor approaching and his mind blares that he has to hide, and he’s already halfway under the café table before it hits him that this probably isn’t actually making him less conspicuous.
“Hey,” Eleanor says. “Uh, what are you doing?”
“Just... glasses,” Chidi says. Just saying the word ‘glasses’ isn’t technically a lie, and it seems safest to be vague. Outright saying ‘I dropped my glasses’ would probably lead to further questions, like ‘you know you’re wearing them, right?’ If he avoids being explicit, he could be under the table for any number of glasses-related reasons.
Like... cleaning his glasses. Under the table, to avoid disturbing other patrons when he untucks his shirt to do it. He should probably ask Janet for an actual cleaning cloth at some point.
He climbs back onto his seat, adjusting his glasses for the sake of the story, even if he’s not sure exactly what the story is. “Hey.”
There are a few horrible seconds of silence.
“So,” Eleanor says, “I guess I should say I’m sorry I macked on you. That was probably pretty unprofessional.”
This raises a number of troubling questions, Chidi feels. Are there professional guidelines for running the afterlife? Given her use of ‘probably’, does the person running the afterlife not actually know what these guidelines are? Is Eleanor aware that ‘I guess I should say I’m sorry’ is not technically an apology?
More importantly: how is Chidi supposed to respond to this?
But he’s already saying, “Oh, that’s – that’s fine,” because that’s how he is programmed to respond to apologies, or statements that come close enough. It’s probably what he’d say if someone came up to apologise for murdering his entire extended family. “It’s fine, absolutely, I’d already forgotten about it.”
Judging by Eleanor’s expression, that may not have been the right thing to say.
“I mean,” Chidi says. “I mean, obviously I remembered it, because it was an... impactful event, and you’re, uh, you’re a person who leaves an impression, and – and – actually, I pretty much haven’t stopped thinking about it since it happened.”
“Okay,” Eleanor says. “One of those has to be a lie, so either way you’re on Kant’s shirtlist.”
“Why did you kiss me?” Chidi asks.
“Uh,” Eleanor says.
A moment passes.
“Look,” Eleanor says, “I get that maybe it would seem like a bigger thing on Earth, but it’s totally normal. We’re just... gathering... data... on the people in the Good Place. Like, you can’t say two people are soulmates if you don’t know they’re makeout-compatible, you know?”
Chidi really wishes that explanation had made sense, because he really needs to be able to stop worrying about this.
“But you already said Simone was my soulmate,” he says, and then, “Wait, did you kiss Simone?”
“Pfft, I wish,” Eleanor says.
“Actually, hot stuff, I think the bigger question is why did you run out of the room straight after,” Eleanor says.
Chidi pauses. “I’m starting to think you’re not actually here to apologise.”
“I mean, I’m smokin’, right? I’m fun. And I know it’s not that you’re not attracted to me, so why would you pass up this primo opportunity to—”
“Wait, how did you—”
They both stop talking at the same time.
Eleanor raises her eyebrows, beginning to grin. “How did I know you’re attracted to me?”
“I didn’t – I didn’t actually say that,” Chidi says.
Of course she knows. She probably knows about every time he’s reached for the almond milk, too.
The problem is that Chidi isn’t sure he knew, not until just now, and apparently that’s another thing he’s going to have to deal with.
“Can you promise it was just a soulmate compatibility test?” he asks.
Eleanor rolls her eyes, dropping into the chair opposite him. “Obviously it wasn’t a soulmate compatibility test. You think I’d ever do any of the boring admin stuff if it was my job to make out with everyone in the neighbourhood? You’re super cute and super ripped and...”
She seems like she’s going to say more, but she cuts herself off and just does a helpless little hand gesture, looking weirdly sad. It kind of hurts to see it, more than Chidi would have expected.
Okay. How do you gently turn down someone who’s in charge of how you’ll be spending eternity? Do you turn her down?
This feels like a really big decision, and he’s not sure that he’s going to be any better at making decisions now that he knows he has a literal eternity ahead of him to regret them. He likes Eleanor, but there’s a lot he doesn’t know about her, and this – this seems like it could get complicated.
“Aren’t there... political problems, here?” Chidi asks. “I mean, if you get involved with someone who lives in your neighbourhood. I mean, doesn’t live, but... couldn’t people accuse you of favouritism, if you have a, um, an, um, an intimate relationship with someone in the afterlife that you run?”
Eleanor frowns at him for a moment, then looks around at the other tables. “Oh, yeah, right, there’s a bunch of people here,” she says, like she’s only just realising it.
It’s true, Chidi’s sometimes felt that she and Michael pay more attention to certain humans than to others, but he figured he just noticed more when they spent time with the people he tends to be around. Does Eleanor actually not care about most of the people here?
What is it about Chidi that needs special attention? Or Simone, or Tahani? He can understand why Eleanor focuses so much on Brent, at least; the guy’s an asshole, and Chidi can’t help feeling that he got into the Good Place by mistake.
Is Chidi an asshole?
“Uh, did I do something wrong?” Chidi asks.
“You’re asking because I made out with you?” Eleanor asks. “I mean, yeah, historically my taste in guys has been kind of...” She pauses. “Okay, it’s a fair question.”
He doesn’t know why he’s surprised to hear she has a taste in guys. What, did he think he was the first?
Eleanor sighs. “You’re fine. You’re good. You’re... a really, really good guy.”
Chidi scratches the back of his neck, coughs awkwardly. “Uh, thanks.”
“Just... go,” Eleanor says. “Be with your soulmate. She’s great. Just forget the whole thing.” She mutters something; Chidi doesn’t know if he’s hearing it right.
Chidi hesitates. “I don’t think I can.”
“Then be with your soulmate and spend the whole time thinking about this piece of ash,” Eleanor says. “Believe me, I wish I could make us work, but it’s all way too complicated.”
She shoves back her chair and walks away while Chidi’s still trying to get his head around a celestial being attempting to describe herself as ‘this piece of ass’.
It sounded like she said ‘again’. Just forget the whole thing. Again.
Chidi freezes up when he’s kissed unexpectedly; he’s always done it. This time, he kissed back. And then he realised what was happening, and he broke away, and he ran.
Forget the whole thing.
He tries to call it up in his memory, as clear as he can make it. Tries to pin down why it seemed so weird, beyond the whole God-is-making-out-with-you thing. But it’s muddied, it’s so tangled up with other times he’s...
With other times he’s kissed Eleanor.
He’d never kissed Eleanor before.
“You thought this was all a dying hallucination,” he says.
She raises her eyebrows. “You’re going to tell me I was right?”
She’s so stunning, and so intelligent. And she’s his soulmate. She’s his soulmate.
Unless she isn’t real.
“I don’t know,” he says. “I’m starting to think it might be my hallucination.”
“Okay,” Simone says. “Well, I definitely feel like I have my own inner life, if that helps, but I guess that’s exactly what I’d say if I were a figment of your imagination.”
“I have all these memories,” he says. “And they – they can’t be real. So maybe none of it is.”
“I mean, false memories are a thing,” Simone says. “They’re common, they’re normal. They don’t have to mean anything’s wrong.”
“I just have... a lot of memories of first kisses with a specific person,” he says. “I don’t think that’s normal.”
Simone snorts. “Not unless you have a huge crush. Look, either you’re my hallucination, or you’re fine. You’re already in the afterlife; it’s not like you’ve got something in your head that’s going to make you any deader.”
There’s a pause.
“So who is it?” Simone asks.
“Uh,” Chidi says.
“Go on. I won’t tell anyone.”
“Um,” Chidi says. “No.”
Simone laughs. “Okay, fine.”
Chidi closes her office door behind him. He almost apologises for interrupting her work, but the document on Eleanor’s desk doesn’t look very official; it’s covered in doodles of dicks with the name SHAWN written along the shaft.
“The kiss,” he says.
Eleanor winces. “I told you to forget it.”
“I haven’t been great at forgetting,” he admits.
“Believe me,” Eleanor says, “you’re better than you think you are.”
It feels like he’s on the edge of grasping something, but it just keeps slipping between his fingers.
“I don’t think I want to forget it,” he says.
He’s not sure what reaction he’s expecting, but she looks hurt.
“Sorry,” he says. “I just – I don’t mean – I probably shouldn’t have come here. I’ll go.”
“You don’t have to,” Eleanor says.
Eleanor laughs. “Oh, right, sorry. Guess I just sprung a decision on you, huh?” She pauses. “If it helps, I’d like you to stay. But I’m going to kiss you if you do.”
“That’s just making this a way bigger decision,” Chidi says, wrapping his arms across his stomach. “I don’t think that helps.”
“I’m not saying we’re gonna get married,” Eleanor says, shrugging with one shoulder. “It’s a kiss. Do you want it or not?”
She wanders up to him, pokes him in the chest. And there it is again, the feeling that she’s been this close to him before, often, hundreds of times. It feels like he knows her so much better than he logically should.
He’s never been able to make decisions. But somehow, having her here makes him feel a little more like he can.
He clears his throat. His heart’s beating fast, although he’s not sure what that means when you’re in the afterlife and your heart’s an illusion. “I’ll stay.”
She kisses him. He’s expecting it this time, but the rush of feeling still floors him, the familiarity that doesn’t make any sense, the rightness of it.
Of standing here, kissing the being in charge of his afterlife, which really doesn’t seem like it should be right.
“We can’t do this,” she mutters. She kisses him again. “There’s way too much at stake. There’s—” She kisses him, and kisses him, sneaking her hands up under his shirt. “I’m sorry. But we can’t.”
“I’m getting mixed messages here,” Chidi manages to say between kisses.
“I mean, we’re already making out. Might as well get our money’s worth before we start making good decisions.”
“Why do I remember this?” Chidi asks.
Eleanor pulls away and tips her head back and lets out a frustrated groan. “I really wish I could explain.”
It’s not the answer he wants, but it’s okay. This is something he knows about, right? Philosophy is about searching for answers. From what Eleanor’s saying, it sounds like an answer exists somewhere. He just has to keep looking for it.
He draws her in and kisses her again. It feels like a start.