Part 6: Epilogue, The Black Box

Chapter 29: Bon Voyage

Time flew and before John knew it, it was nearly 2am. The old John would have relied on Mary to give him her number, not wanting to impose, and then would have kicked himself for being so passive.

John did not judge the old John too harshly, but he was different now.

“Hey…” he said, catching Mary’s eyes, “I feel like we’re really hitting it off. I’d really like to keep getting to know you better. I’m not interested in rushing anything, or putting any pressure on you, so I just thought we might exchange numbers so that we could stay in touch.”

Mary looked like she might faint. “So, um, say— I’m sober, are you sober?” She was speaking really quickly.

John wasn’t quite sure what she was getting at, but he was, so he nodded.

“Great, because, um, our gift bags have fancy condoms in them, and I spent the whole plane ride here reading your smut, and I was thinking, if, only if you want to, of course, but, do you want to fuck?”

Oh,” John said. It was like he tripped and fell into a vat of hot wine, or all the ginseng kicked in at once, because his heart was suddenly flittering in his chest and echoing in his dick. “Yes. Definitely.”

She took his hand and practically dragged him back up to her room, flitting with nervous excitement.

John shared her giddiness as she locked the door behind him and pulled him over to the bed.

“It’s a common misconception,” she said, “that a woman’s wetness is synonymous with her arousal. Not all arousal involves wetness, and not all wetness is a sign of true subjective arousal. But, in this case,” she hastily wiggled her skirt up over her hips, revealing soaked panties, which she kicked off onto the floor before falling back on the bed, “I’m really fucking wet and aroused.”

John’s mouth instantly watered. “May I taste?”

“God, yes,” Mary said.

Her intoxicating scent washed over him and John wasted no time applying a long, soft lick to her vulva. Her inner labia were puffy with arousal, her clitoris enlarged and emerging slightly from its hood, and he let his tongue swirl there for a moment before starting again from the bottom.

“Ohhhh, yeah,” Mary said, “Just like that…”

She talked him through what she liked just like Felix had. And, because of Felix, John had no anxiety about Mary’s climax or lack thereof. He just focused on trying to make her feel as good as he possibly could.

“Just like that… god. Fuck. Don’t stop. Don’t stop!” Mary screamed, a deep and visceral sound that came from the very core of her as her legs clamped around John’s head and her whole body shook violently. As instructed, John did not stop, until Mary’s legs relaxed and her hand found his head, and she said, “Okay, give me a sec…”

John did, and before he could wonder what was next, Mary was digging around in the gift bag, her arousal seemingly greater, not lessened, for her recent climax. She grabbed a condom and tossed it to John. “Would it be okay, if um, I were really impatient?”

“Absolutely,” John said.

“Good because I want you to fucking fuck me right the fuck now!”

“Yes ma’am.” John started unwrapping the condom.

“Hurry uuuuup,” Mary whined.

A jolt of heat pulsed in John’s sex, and he wasted no time with teasing as he quickly shrugged off his suit and rolled on the condom.

Mary practically pulled him down on top of her, but he paused as his tip rested against her entrance. “Is there anything that I should know about what you like or don’t like before I start?”

Mary whined. “You’re teasing me on purpose, aren’t you?”

“No, I value your pleasure and your consent.” He was telling the truth, but he smirked anyway.

Mary huffed at him. “Ugh. Fine. I don’t always like it rough but right now I do, so you can go as hard as you like. Don’t put anything in my mouth that you don’t want me to bite. I might try to make you come but that’s because I think it’s hot, not because I’m trying to hurry you. PIV doesn’t make me come, so don’t worry about it. I’m gonna moan a whole bunch. Does that about cover it?”

John’s arousal was throbbing through his whole body, frothed to a fever pitch by Mary’s words. “That about covers it,” he said, and slipped inside.

She was so hot and wet and soft, even through the condom. Her muscles clenched immediately around him, grasping for sensation, even as he just lingered there a moment, taking her in. The smell of her sex still lingered on his face. Her makeup was smudged, her hair in disarray around her, her dress still bunched up around her waist, and John thought he’d never seen anything sexier.

He started a long, slow thrust and reached up a hand to massage Mary’s breasts, one at a time. He continued long, slow thrusts until Mary whined, “C’monnnn… please fuck me… you’re killing me!”

John obliged and picked up the pace, though he didn’t have much confidence in his endurance. He thought about what Arya said, and focused on breathing deeply. He visualized what he wanted, which was to fuck Mary for a long, long time without his sensation building towards climax.

It worked fairly well, and John lasted far longer than he expected. It was hard, really hard, with the way that Mary was panting and moaning and begging. Just like when he’d face fucked Arya, the movement of his hips and the hot wetness around him told his primal brain that he should ejaculate as quickly as possible. As John reached the edge, he slowed. He’d milk one more wave out of this.

Mary pouted up at him, the picture of absolutely desperate sexual frustration, and he grinned mischievously as he stopped altogether, just savoring the feeling of her around him. She squeezed him and he gasped, staying still for as long as he could until the sensation drove his hips to thrust again.

Then he stayed slow and smooth, letting his arousal ebb a little bit, and letting Mary re-sensitize.

Then, with a visceral growl, John fucked her as hard and fast as he could.

Mary screamed with delighted overwhelm, grabbing at the sheets around her, eyes rolling back in ecstasy. “Give it to me, give it to me!”

“Fuck!” John’s hips thrust forward one more time, that muscle contraction setting off the cascade that pumped wave after wave of cum into the condom as he trembled inside her wet heat, her muscles still contracting greedily around him as if trying to milk him dry.

John was tempted to linger there but it would be poor form to risk the condom slipping, so he mustered his strength and tipped off of her, collapsing onto the bed next to her in a sweaty heap. She admired her handiwork in the condom, gently running her fingers over his shaft. John quivered, the sensation incredibly intense, but she stopped before he had to ask her to.

It may have been less consideration for him and more her own urgency, because she put one hand to her breast and the other to her labia, and as John basked in his afterglow, he watched her masturbate. Her eyes were closed and he wondered if she was thinking of his writing, as she came again, and then a third time, before finally heaving a sigh and sinking back into the bed.

John gently took up the hand that had been in her sex and licked her wetness from it, and Mary moaned in sleepy bliss.

“That was… amazing…” she said, eyes fading shut. “Was it… good for you?”

“Yeah,” John said. “Eleven out of ten. Would recommend.”

Mary giggled sleepily. “That’s what you said… about the box…” and then she was asleep.

John took a moment to situate himself, tucking into the sheets and pulling them over Mary, too. It was almost hard to believe that her cute, peaceful face could contain such lewd intentions, and he loved it. He wondered if she worried about being too forward, the same way she worried about being too intelligent. He would have to tell her that she shouldn’t worry at all. 

John was hardly a gender scholar, so he couldn’t comment much on whether it was that the definition of ‘feminine’ should be expanded, or that Mary should not put herself so much in that box to begin with.

To John, Mary was Mary. She was herself. He was far less interested in boxes, definitions, or adjectives than he was in getting to know her. He would ask for her permission to write out this encounter, for them. Perhaps it would do her well to see herself through his eyes, just as it had been incredibly therapeutic to see himself through Felix’s.

He thought of how he might describe her curves, her lips, her urgency, her moans, how he might possibly articulate how aroused she had made him feel. A gentle heat lingered as he drifted off to sleep.

That night, he dreamed that he and Arya and Mary and her man with the flower sleeve tattoo were on a sail boat together, out on the open sea. For a while, they tended the rigging and called out nautical terms, but that quickly dissolved into group sex on the deck: John passionately kissing Mary, Arya riding her counterpart, and a soft wind rolling over them. 

His view shifted to the third person, as it could in dreams. He drifted up and back, zooming out, and he saw that the side of the boat read Bon Voyage.

The next morning, he awoke to Mary in bed next to him. She now wore his shirt, which she must have recovered from the floor. He smiled and kissed her and felt deep in his bones that it was a start of a long journey together.

As it turned out, he was right.

Part 6: Epilogue, The Black Box

Chapter 28: The Banquet

The publishers had covered John’s plane fare to the celebration. He was actually back in the same city as the gaming convention, though in a different part of town. 

He was wearing a black suit and tie and followed the directions through a swanky hotel lobby and into a lushly decorated event hall that was exactly what he had expected.

Every detail was soft, sensual, glimmering: burgundy curtains, velvet-covered tables lined with hors d’oeuvres, shimmering golden candelabras set out amongst the tables. Overhead were crystal chandeliers, glowing only dimly, so that the majority of the light was from the candles.

The hors d’oeuvres were a global tour of classic aphrodisiacs, including chocolate, caviar, oyster, strawberries, and pomegranates. There were others that John hadn’t heard of before, like bull testicles. 

Each with their own little label, gold script on black, explaining their origin and purported effects. Some were ethical nods at their historical counterparts, like a sugar powder for “rhinos horn”, or legal nods at their more illicit counterparts, like CBD-infused chocolate truffles.

The drinks followed a similar theme, including red wine and ginseng tea. 

There were something like a hundred other guests in the event hall. The place felt pleasantly populated but not crowded. They were all also dressed in black tie attire, a mix of suits and cocktail dresses. The tone was hushed, and all in all the event agreed even with John’s introverted sensibilities. He found himself relaxing.

Or, maybe that was the combination of the ginseng tea and CBD chocolates. Regardless of aphrodisiacs’ actual effects, the idea of a food or drink being able to induce arousal was itself arousing, and so the stories around them were just as important of the properties of the foods themselves. It had a similar appeal to the dial game and John made a mental note to write a scene about that, later. For the time being, he stood at one of the cocktail tables by himself, with a plate of chocolate covered strawberries.

“Oh my god!” A feminine voice called out nearby, “You’re ‘Just John’, aren’t you?”

John hadn’t initially thought she was talking to him, but that was the brand that he wrote his reviews under, so he turned to see.

Her nametag read ‘Mary, she/her’. She wore a strapless mermaid dress, shimmering gold and tight around all of her curves, including a cute tummy.

“Yeah,” John said, “I’m great. Look. Uh, great. You look, um, great.”

Mary blushed and giggled. “Thank you! I didn’t mean to bother you, I just had to come say I’m a big fan.”


“Yeah! I’ve been following your work for a while, I really appreciate how you toe the line between giving an honest review, making it funny, and not totally pissing off the publisher. That’s not easy.”

John gulped. Talking to Mary was not going to be easy. She had a cute face, round cheeks and eyes that squinted shut when she smiled. “Thank you,” he said. “That feels a bit… flat after such a kind compliment, but I’m afraid I’m not so great at receiving compliments.”

“That’s alright!” Mary said, “Me neither. I also really liked your review for the Black Box.”

The review had just been published the night before, so Mary really did follow his work. It had overall been well received, and John’s Twitter link with his smut had seen quite a few click throughs. Wait, had Mary read his smut?

“I also, um…” she continued, her face flushing red, and she put one of her hands behind her neck, picking at her elbow with the other. “I really liked… the other stuff you wrote…”

“Oh! Um. Thank you.”

“I didn’t want to totally put you on the spot so I’ll leave it at that,” Mary said, talking fast, “But I just saw you and I was like, ‘oh my god, I have to say something!’ I hope you don’t think I’m a total creep.” She chuckled nervously.

“Not at all! I just wish I knew some of your work. Did you also get a review copy?”

“Yeah, I did! And I’m newer to the review scene, so don’t worry about it. I used to be a software engineer for EA, actually, but then I realized that I didn’t really want to make games so much as I wanted enough money to just buy all the games I wanted, so I recently transitioned to a tech startup. That’s been great, and then I’ve been doing reviews on the weekend for fun. So, I don’t have that much of a following yet, but I think they picked me because, um, well, I mostly review porn games.” Her skin flushed red again.

“That is noble work,” John said, “It’s hard to find good ones!”

“Yeah… until, this one, phew.”


“Just… wow. You summed it up so well in your review. And in your, um… appendices.”

“Heh, thanks. I always thought I’d be a game writer, not a… porn writer, but…”

“Well, did you ever think of writing for an erotic game? I actually have a few contacts for indie publishers! I could make some intros.”

“That would be… wow. Amazing. I’d love that!”

Before Mary could say anything else, the lights got a bit brighter and the Madame, which John recognized from the hologram, stepped out at the front of the room underneath a projector screen. She beckoned them to come and sit and enjoy the messages that their Black Boxes had prepared for them.

Mary turned, but hesitated, and said, “Do you want to come sit with me? I’m here by myself, actually.”

“Me too! So, yeah, that’d be great.”

There were velvet-padded chairs arranged in rows at the front of the room, and Mary and John settled in. They chatted a bit more as the rest of the room gathered, until the lights went dim and the projector came on.

The image used the same engine as the Black Box AR, a mildly cartoonish mirror of the event hall, similarly arranged with a bunch of seats. In those seats sat all of the characters, a significantly more colorful and chaotic bunch than the actual humans, and John quickly found Arya’s pink buns.

The characters included the hyper-masculine and the hyper-feminine and everything in between: skinny and fat, tall and short, black and brown and white, but also blue and yellow and every other color. There were even some anthropomorphic characters, a fox and a wolf and a lynx and others, some with full muzzles and digitigrade feet and others with just ears and tails.

One by one, they came up and shared in their own voice something they had learned about their player. The sentiments were poignant and thoughtful and occasionally silly.

“I learned that Stacy is really ticklish. She can even tickle herself!”

“I learned that Mike has been afraid most of his life. I’m really glad to say he’s not as afraid anymore.”

A male character stepped up, with a trendy haircut and a flower sleeve tattoo in a white t-shirt and jeans, and Mary perked. “That’s me!”

“I learned that Mary is brilliant with game theory. She’s had some absolutely incredible ideas for our time together. I also learned that she worries that her intelligence makes her less feminine, but I’m working on convincing her that that couldn’t be less true.”

John glanced over. Tears were running down Mary’s cheeks, and without even pausing to consider that his suit was rented, he handed Mary his pocket square. She nodded and wiped her face, dabbing carefully to avoid smudging her makeup. He leaned a bit closer and whispered, “He’s right.”

She made a show of hiding behind her hands. “I told you, I’m not good with compliments!”

A few minutes later, John watched with a mix of anxiety and excitement as Arya stood and walked to the front. “I learned that John is kind and thoughtful. He is deeply respectful of others’ rights to simply be themselves, probably because most of all, he yearns to just be able to be himself. I think, if I may be so bold, that I can say that John is quite a bit better at being himself, now.”

As Arya turned and returned to her chair, it was John’s turn to start crying. Mary offered him her cocktail napkin from under her plate with an understanding smile.

Even before the presentation had finished, there wasn’t a dry eye in the whole place. John had never seen or experienced this kind of group catharsis before, this broadly shared emotion. Strangers cried together and hugged each other, patted each other’s shoulders and passed boxes of tissues around. 

After the last Black Box said their bit, the Madame came back up to the front of the room, and she, too, was crying. Through her tears, she took a deep breath. “If you’re here tonight, you heard my hypothesis. I don’t know where you came from, or what you’ve held with you. I hope you find that my hypothesis has rung true, and continues to do so. Regardless, I do know one thing for certain. I am deeply grateful for each and every one of you and honored to have shared in a small part of your journey. That’s… all I have to say, really. You’ll each find a gift under your chair. There will be live music, and we have the venue until 2am. Feel free to stay as long as you like until then. I’ll be around until about 10, so do come find me if you’d like to meet or chat. There’s only one thing left to say, which is: bon voyage.”

The crowd moved slowly after that, stirring gently and thoughtfully, a bit like an afterglow after such intense emotional release.

John and Mary kept chatting as they went for more wine and strawberries. They sat and listened to the music, and even tried to dance. 

John went lighter on the wine than he would have before. He found that he didn’t need it to feel comfortable, not even talking to Mary. More importantly, he didn’t want to miss any detail or lose any memory of the evening.

The swell of the music filling the space, the feeling of life in his fingers and toes as he danced, the ache of laughing way too hard at something Mary said, the softness of her hand in his, the way his heart skipped whenever her eyes met his.

It had nothing to do with the wine, the way he felt like he was sinking deeper and deeper into something warm and wonderful…