A/N: This is a prequel of sorts to my story Tireur and Tireuse. You can read either without the other, but after this is done I'll be putting a bonus chapter up on T&T which will relate to this story. Canniste will only be a handful of chapters at most.
While I've researched a fair bit for this, I am borrowing liberally from my own teenagerhood in the 80s, which was in a different country and a different language. Apologies for the things I've unwittingly put in that were different in 1980s France. Also, in Astruc-style, I'm not playing strict with the timeline – this story happens somewhere in a generic mish-mash of the mid-80s rather than an exact year.
I do not own Miraculous or its characters. I do own more 1980s music and makeup than I should admit. Because, goshdarnit, makeup then was much more interesting. The music, well, not so much.
The boy walked quickly down the street, arms wrapped around his new record. David Bowie's Tonight album was something he'd been wanting for ages. His eyes flickered across the street, where a couple of other boys were hanging around. This seaside town was nice, much nicer than Paris to spend summers in, but he couldn't say the same about some of the teenagers who lived here all year round. And oh look. They'd noticed him. Uh-oh. Gabriel debated changing his pace, but that might draw the attention of more of them. Maybe if he was lucky they weren't feeling like he was worth their trouble today. And maybe his skin had turned blue when he wasn't looking. Not for the first time, Gabriel wished he was sixteen already. His mother promised him he'd start getting tall around then. Now, however, he was still shorter by more than a head than all the other boys his age. And apparently, today he was also not lucky.
"Whatcha got, Squirt."
Gabriel looked up at the boy in front of him and held the record a little tighter.
"It's a record. Excuse me."
The two boys hooted. "Excuse me! Excuse me!", they mimicked. "What kind of a stuck up priss are you?"
They were too close to the wall. Gabriel wasn't going to be able to duck by them easily. He knew from experience that stepping backwards cemented him in their tiny little minds as prey. Standing his ground was the only option.
Pity it wasn't a very good one. Maybe, if he was very lucky, the record would stay intact.
"Ooh, there's a boy on the front. With makeup on. Like that sort of thing, do you?" The second boy joined in. "Wish you were wearing some too, priss?"
Gabriel rolled his eyes. "They all do that at the moment. All the good musicians."
"What's the matter, are you too cool for us, priss?"
Forget luck. The way this looked to be shaping up, the record would stay intact, but get scratched too deep to play. He shouldn't have rolled his eyes. It was hard not to.
The boys took a step towards him, cutting deep into his space. Gabriel braced himself.
Then they stepped back again, looking over his shoulder. A mellow voice from behind him said "Hey, lads. Is there a problem?"
Gabriel knew of Leon Fabron, the auto mechanic's son, but hadn't met him before. It turned out that up close he, well, loomed. More than a fifteen year old should. The boys in front of him weren't immune to it, but they didn't cower away either. Pity. Instead, they doubled-down on their belligerence.
"The priss here was saying some things he shouldn't", one of them said, coming too close again and leaning into Gabriel's face. Gabriel held position, unsure whose side the newcomer was going to be on.
Leon stepped forward, just a little – almost only a changing of weight rather than an actual step. He didn't even reach out, really, just shifted the way his arm was hanging. The boy in Gabriel's face moved back a full step. Leon took an actual step forward, turning slightly and looming just a little more. The two boys moved back with him. Three steps later they had their backs pressed against the side wall, unable to retreat any further, looking a little scared. Leon stood directly in front of them. He hadn't raised his arms from his sides. He said "Maybe you should let him go listen to his record."
Gabriel took this as his cue, and bolted past them for home.
He clattered across the wooden verandah of their summer house and inside. The curled-iron screen door banged closed behind him. His mother was in the middle of the living room, looking at two records. "Hi, Gabriel. In a rush? I can't choose. Musique de Incas? Or Marlene Dietrich?"
"I just bought a new record. Can I put it on?"
She sighed. "More of that terrible noise? All right. But I get next choice." She grinned at him. He grinned back, and carefully lifted the record out of its paper sleeve, setting the record player's needle to the start of the first track. The familiar intro to "Loving the Alien" filled the room, mixing a little oddly with the smoke from the little cone of patchouli incense on the fireplace mantel. His mother picked up a broom, and handed it to him. "Here. You can sweep up while you listen. If you're hungry, I made granola bars this afternoon." She drifted into the kitchen, humming along with the song. As Gabriel started sweeping, she called back "Your dad rang. He won't make it down this weekend. There's some kind of special Mini-tel sale on that he has to stay in Paris for." Gabriel shrugged. It wasn't unusual. His dad came down for as many summer weekends as he could, but life as Mini-tel's top salesman kept him pretty busy. Mostly it was just Gabriel and his mother enjoying the seaside life, and Gabriel was OK with that. It's not like his dad was around much when they were in Paris anyway. His mind drifted back to the walk home – the run home – and the surprise intervention of Leon Fabron. Good manners said he should thank Leon. Gabriel's parents insisted on good manners. He'd have to go find the other boy. And maybe find out how he'd done that thing with backing the boys against the wall.
But not today. Not before the record finished. He closed his eyes for a moment, imagining himself on Bowie's stage with the strange characters of the video clip arranged around him, and smiled.