Where is she? She said eight and it is almost nine, and this fucking idiot won't leave me alone. I always seem to get the same sort of attention in places like this, bars and clubs and that, because I am a beautiful lady, apparently.

I don't want to be beautiful if it gets me this sort of shit.

"You're really pretty," he tells me for the hundredth time, I don't even remember his name.

"Shut up," I tell him, very seriously.

"You're just being modest is all," he says, almost to himself.

To be honest he is starting to concern me a little bit, I think he went to my school but I don't remember his name, not even a little bit. I'm not being modest, I really do want him to shut up, but that doesn't seem to be getting through at all.

"You really are pretty," he says again.

"Do you have nothing else to say to me?" I ask him, starting to lose my patience.

He seems to really think about it. "No," he tells me.

"At least buy me a drink or something," I instruct him.

"What do you drink?" he asks, lighting up.

"Gin and tonic," I tell him. "Go and get me one."

He actually scampers off, I have never been able to visualise it when it is written that anything other than a mouse scampers, but now I know what they are talking about. It is almost laughable. But it isn't quite, because I have to say I'm starting to think this guy might be stalking me or something.

I swear I recognise his face from somewhere but I've no idea where.

He comes back with my drink and nothing for himself, I don't even bother to ask.

He sits and fairly stares at me while I drink, he has stopped talking but I can't say whether that is a plus or just makes him that little bit more creepy. I told him I was waiting for someone but he just said he would wait with me.

I am kind of hoping that some guy will come over and scare him off but the girl I am waiting for is hardly likely to. She is the nicest person I have ever met, in all my twenty years I have met a great deal of people, and she really is the nicest.

And the sweetest and the prettiest and everything. She is perfect, except that she maintains that she is too tall for the uniform. She goes to an all girls school, a school I went to a couple of years ago, which is how we met.

I thought she was in my year level and asked if she was new. It took us almost a week to realise that I had made some mistake and though she was someone different than who she was. But she admitted to me that she had thought I was in her year level. We stayed friends since then, because really, she is incredible.

"Would you kindly stop staring at me?" I ask him, finishing my drink faster than I had intended.

He seems to think about it for a moment. "No," he tells me. "You're just so pretty."

I sigh and wonder again where she is.

I look around and notice the door open, my hopes rise for a moment before a man walks in, tall with long black hair in a pony tail, a white shirt with jeans and combat boots. I sigh again and turn back to the idiot before me.

He just keeps staring, so I drift off again.

I don't think I've ever seen her outside of school, now that I think about it, after I left school we kind of lost contact for a while, before she rang me one day. She apologised and said that her phone had died so she had lost my number for a while.

Apparently she fixed it though and got my number back. It surprised me that she had fixed it herself, she had never seemed the type to be capable of such a thing, but of course time changes people. It had been something close to a year that we hadn't talked before that call.

I was surprised when she asked if I wanted to go out somewhere, I had recommended this place, where I had been before, and she agreed. For some reason I keep picturing her in a period dress, walking daintily in and being massively surprised at the crass sort of place I had chosen.

For some reason I could even hear her talking in the sort of way that they do in period dramas and stuff, though she had never spoken so that I was aware of. I had always been the one who spoke strangely, apparently.

"You're so pretty," he says again.

"Would you just shut up?" I ask him. "Or at least say something else."

He makes no reply, just continues to stare.

"Apologies if I am intruding," a voice I don't quite know says from almost next to me. It sounds familiar but not quite, like there is something a little wrong with it.

I look up to find the man who had just walked in, closer up he doesn't look as manly as he had when he had entered.

"But is this man bothering you?" he asks me.

"Hey man, I was talking to her," the guy across from me protests.

"But she was waiting for me," the man beside me says. "This is my girlfriend you are bothering."

That surprises me, neither of those claims are true, but I don't know that I mind either of them being made. I think this guy may drive the idiot away.

"Well I'm talking to her," the idiot across from me says, sounding petulant.

"I think you are bothering her," the man says, "and that bothers me."

The boy stands up and tries to look threatening, it doesn't work with the height difference. The man is quite tall, easily as tall as the girl I am waiting for. The image in my head changes, I think the girl would be too tall for a period dress.

"You want to fight about it?" the boy demands, seeming to immediately regret these words.

"I do not want to hurt you," the man says. "But if you desire to fight for the lady I will gladly oblige you."

I almost protest at being called a lady. Almost.

"Yeah," the idiot says.

He throws a punch, straight away and with no warning. The man takes it right in the stomach, without flinching or even moving. "I think then we should take it outside," the man tells him, no hint of pain in his voice. "So that you not be embarrassed in public."

The boy lashes out again and again the man just absorbs it.

"Are you certain you wish to fight inside?" the man asks.

By this point the pair have garnered a fair amount of attention and one of the bouncers is approaching them. The boy throws a third punch, this time aiming higher and putting his whole body behind it.

The man shifts slightly, grabs the boy's fist and flings him over his shoulder into a table, which splinters with the impact. It all looks very martial-arty but for the fact that the boy just lies there in the ruin of the table and groans.

"I apologise," the man calls to the barkeep. "I'll pay for that."

The bouncer picks up the boy on the ground and heaves him over a shoulder.

"I have to ask you to leave," the bouncer tells me him. "And you too miss."

I don't see why I have to leave but I don't argue.

"Sorry for causing a fuss," I call over to the barkeep, who is sort of a friend of mine.

He shrugs.

The boy is leaned against the wall outside the bar and the man and I follow the bouncer out.

"See you some other time," I tell the bouncer, Pete is a good guy.

"I think he is from school," the man beside me says, his voice changing to sound a lot more like a girl's. "Do you know him?"

"Holy shit friend," I exclaim, possibly the least articulate I have been since before I could talk. "Is that you Madeline?"

She grins. "Yeah, it is," she says. "Good to make your acquaintance again after so long."

"You sound different than you do over the phone," I inform the girl.

"You said you recognised my voice so I guess I just kept talking like that," she says.

When she had first called me I had recognised her voice over the phone and that had made her laugh. I guess she had been putting on the voice as a joke or something because she doesn't sound much like she used to.

The boy on the ground groans.

Madeline crouches down with him. "What is your name?" she asks him.

"Joshua," he tells us.

"He was in my class," Madeline tells me.

"Was?" I ask her.

"School has finished," she tells me. "That is kind of why I wanted to meet up with you, I wanted to know if you knew about any good electronics courses in your university."

I just laugh. I can't say what it is that makes me laugh but whatever it is, it's pretty damn funny. I can see Madeline smiling a little beside me, just because it amuses her that I am laughing, or at least that is what I assume she is smiling about.

And impulse strikes me. "Would you like to come back to my place?" I ask her. "You can come and see my apartment."

She grins. "Sounds good," she says.

She only ever came over once before and that was after school back when I still lived with my father and my sister. Which was actually quite early in my last year of school, because my sister moved overseas in July that year.

So we find ourselves sitting in my living room, Madeline staring around the places and me staring at her. She looks almost the same as she always has and that is the weird part, because I was convinced that she was a man for almost twenty minutes, and it took her pretty much telling me that she wasn't for me to realise.

Maybe she is handsome, that could be why she looked like a man, and she is handsome but I have always thought she was pretty and kind of dainty and fragile despite her size. She is still as thin as ever but it fits with the image she seems to have now.

"I can't help but feel that you are staring," she says. The way she talks is different from how it used to be as well, but I guess so is the way I talk.

"I apologise," I reply. "I can't get over how different you seem."

"I guess you haven't seen me for a while," she concedes. "It was, for the most part, a fairly gradual change."

"For the most part?" I ask her.

"Well…" she hesitates. "I guess that when you left there was something of a step in the attitude, but outside of school I almost never wore dresses or skirts anyway."

"Whenever I pictured you out of school uniform it was always is some big puffy dress," I tell her.

"I haven't worn a puffy dress since my mother remarried when I was five," she tells me. She never talked much about her mother, but I know that the woman is dead. "And even back then it was only under protest."

"I imagine that when you were young it would certainly have been under protest," I say.

"I have never been much into girly things," she says.

I have to say that it surprises me that he says that, but I have no reason for it to. I went to her house once, that she shared with her elder brother, who had been almost thirty one, which was almost twice Madeline's age back then.

Her room had been fairly plain, there had been almost nothing to indicate either way whether she was into girly stuff or not. But I guess that that in itself should have shown me that she wasn't into girly stuff. In my limited experience girly types have lots of crap in their room.

I almost ask her how she learned to fight, but I catch myself. I remember her brother being a martial arts instructor of some sort, but I don't remember what sort. I remember them trying to talk me into training with them, it never worked.

"How is your brother?" I ask.

She pretends to be offended. "I'm right here and you ask about my brother," she complains with a smile. "He was pretty good last I heard, he has been overseas for the last couple of months with his girlfriend."

I nod. Nothing to say to that.

"This is a nice place," she says, again.

I don't mind the repetition from her like I did from Joshua in the bar. I guess I remember his name now. Of course she has yet to say it as much as he did.

"Can I get you a drink?" I ask her, realise that I have yet to do so.

"Sure," she replies. "Do you have any orange juice?"

"I think so," I tell her, getting up. "I'll be right back."

I get up and get some drinks, I get a can of bourbon and cola for myself, because I don't have any vodka and lemon drinks left, which is a horrible oversight. I hand her the glass and open my can. She takes a sip in a way that is weirdly familiar even after two years, and puts the glass down on a coaster on the table before us.

I lean on the arm of the couch and put my feet up, my legs in her lap. I don't really know why I did that, I have never gotten that familiar with someone before, I've never even kissed someone before, even at twenty I am still innocent.

I want to laugh almost as much as I want to cry at that.

She doesn't seem that surprised, strangely, just a little bit embarrassed. She ends up resting her hands on my legs and staring at them, her hands I mean. I am wearing jeans so it isn't weird or anything, at least not for reasons that I haven't already mentioned.

"You know, there's something I need to tell you," we both say at the same time, after something of a pause.

"You first," I say quickly, she doesn't argue.

"I really like you," she tells me. "Which is, I guess, why I have ended up like this, I wanted you to see that I am not actually fragile or dainty."

I don't think I ever actually said either of those things to her, but I guess it was obvious in the way I treated her. I have always been overly nice to her, and tried to look out for her with other people and stuff.

Wait a second…

She said she really liked me, didn't she?

I laugh again, and it is almost the same laugh at when we were at the bar. "That is what I wanted to say to you," I tell her. "Of course my only reason is that you have always seemed so perfect to me."

It is her turn to laugh now. "I seemed perfect?" she asks me. "Hardly."

"You did," I insist.

"Really?" she asks.

We are dancing around the subject, I guess, but I don't mind that. "You did," I tell her, blushing a little bit. "You are just so pretty and nice and sweet and kind and…"

I trail off, mostly because of the look she is giving me, but also because I can't really think of anything else. She is grinning from ear to ear and with that expression on her face she looks just like the girl I met almost three years ago now.

"I always thought you were perfect," she tells me, and I blush deeper. "You were always so nice to me, and you went so far out of your way to be nice. And I always loved the way you talked, which I guess is why I sort of started doing the same."

For some reason I like that she didn't mention my looks, everyone always does and she hasn't, I guess that makes me feel better. I always felt like people only liked me for my looks, and I think it may have actually been true for a lot of people.

I swing my legs off the couch and hug her, I just really wanted to all of a sudden.

"Somehow this is more chaste than I was expecting," she says.

I pull away and smile at her.

She leans down and kisses me.

I can't say why, but it surprises me that she does that. I push her away and I can't why I do that either, she gives me a look that I cannot decipher. "Do you not want me to kiss you?" she asks.

When phrased like that I feel kind of silly. "It isn't that," I tell her. "It's just that I've never kissed anyone before."

She grins. "So I have more experience here than you do?" she asks. "That is almost funny."

This time I don't laugh. "What do you mean?" I ask her. My image of her being the most innocent person ever cracking like glass.

"I had a girlfriend for about six months before I moved and came to the high school where I met you," she tells me. "It wasn't really that serious since we were like fourteen or something."

News to me.

"So you knew you were into girls since you were fourteen?" I ask her.

"Longer," she replies with a smile. "Since I was like eight."

She seems to be getting less articulate as she remembers being younger.

"Eight?" I practically sputter.

"Yeah," she says, a faraway look in her eyes.

"I feel like that may be a long story," I say, mostly just for something to say.

"It is," she says. "I don't much want to share it tonight."

I nod.

She hugs me, wrapping her arms around me and pulling me into her. My face is only just higher than her chest, and only because we are sitting down. She is a tall person, I have to say, I think she is something like six foot six.

No wonder she never looked much good in the school uniform.

She kisses me on the top of the head. "I really like you," she tells me.

"I like you too," I tell her.

She kisses my hair again.

"Your hair smells nice," she tells me.

We laugh a little at that.

I really want to kiss her, and other stuff, I don't know what sparked it, but suddenly I just really want to kiss her. I lean away from her and stretch up to kiss her on the lips. She looks down at me, surprised for a moment.

She kisses me back, just a little kiss. Then she kisses me again, and again, a little longer each time. I don't push her away this time when she kisses me like she did before. I kiss her back and I can feel her relax.

She pulls away, leaving me breathless and grins at me, leaning down even further to kiss my collar where my loose t-shirt doesn't cover it. I sigh and relax into the couch, it feels really good to have someone take the lead for me.

I usually feel like I have to take the lead, have to do something for others, but not now.

She kisses the hollow of the throat and then draws back a little to look at me. Obviously my expression is what she wanted to see, she kisses her way up my throat and then on my cheek and my forehead and the tip of my nose.

She grins at me and it is the first time I have ever seen her look so happy.

She kisses me on the lips again, and I can feel her hand on my arm, moving around behind my back. I could swear she has done this before as she runs her hands down my back until they are resting on my hips.

She is careful not to go any further. I realise that my own hands are still, resting on my legs.

She pulls back and this time I am not the only one who is short of breath. "Do you want to go any further?" she asks me, either sensing my hesitation or being gentlewomanly.

I don't know which one is more likely.

I think about it, determined to give her an honest answer. "I'm not sure," is the best I can come up with. I guess I wanted honest and I was, it is just not the answer I was after.

She pauses in thought for a moment.

"Maybe we should hold off then," she suggests.

"Maybe that would be for the best," I reply.

She kisses me again, just a light kiss on the lips, and we spend the rest of the evening and a great deal of the night chatting about school and other stuff. She ends up sleeping on the couch, despite her joking suggestions.

I guess I have a girlfriend now, I have no issue with that.