"Come on, Gabe. It'll be ace!" Leon leaned across Gabriel's kitchen counter, waving the phone receiver in one hand. "Besides... she's got a twin siiiiiissssterrrrrr!" He waggled his eyebrows.

Gabriel just shrugged, closing his sketchbook in resignation. "It doesn't matter what I say here, you're dragging me along anyway, aren't you." He tapped his fingers on the cover, still thinking about the design he was trying to finish for his portfolio.

Leon grinned at him, then spoke into the phone. "He's in. Can we pick you up?" The muffled tinny voice on the other end seemed to indicate agreement. "We'll see you soon then", Leon said. "Bye!". There was a pause. "Bye to you too". Another pause. "No, I say bye last".

Gabriel reached out, pulled the receiver out of Leon's hand, spoke into it. "Celine, we need to go or we can't come pick you up." He hung the phone up, back into the cradle on the wall, despite Leon's attempts to get it back.

After the movie, the four teenagers piled back into Leon's car. He'd spent most of his final year of school building it, working on the engine during his manual arts classes and working on the body out the back of his father's workshop on the weekends. Now school was out, for all of them, and they had a few precious weeks of summer to celebrate. "Let's go up to the lookout", Celine said, leaning into Leon's arm. Aurelie looked away.

The lookout was a favourite hangout spot. You could drive up to the top of the hill and park, looking out over the lights of the town below, along the sweep of the harbour and out across the sea. Many hopeful dates ended up here, earning the spot the nickname of "Make-out Point". The foursome hopped out of the car and went over to the old stone wall, leaning on it to look at the view. Leon cautiously slipped an arm around Celine, who didn't seem to mind. Aurelie and Gabriel looked at the lights rather than at each other.

Down below the wall, someone had thrown, or dropped, or tossed over, an old TV. Broken glass shone in the moonlight, and its rabbit-ears antenna hung limply to the side. Gabriel considered the TV for a moment, then swung himself up and over the wall, dropping down to it. He unscrewed the two antenna pieces, and clambered back up the hill to the wall. It was taller than his head on this side. As he began to climb up, Leon leaned over.

"Hello there!" he said. "Slow going?"

"Look, I don't mean to be rude, but this is not as easy as it looks. So I'd appreciate it if you didn't distract me."

Celine giggled. Aurelie snorted.

Gabriel pulled himself over the wall and tossed one of the antenna pieces to Leon. "You seem a decent fellow", he said. "I hate to kill you."

"You seem a decent fellow", Leon replied with a huge grin, pulling the antenna rod out to its full length. "I hate to die". The two boys took up fencer's positions and began acting out Inigo and Westley's fight scene, to the amusement of the two girls.

"How many times have you watched that movie?" Aurelie asked.

"At least eight", Gabriel said.

"Gabe's got a Betamax player at his house", Leon added.

Celine ran up behind Leon and tackled him in a hug, slipping the "sword" out of his hand. "Aurelie, catch!" she said, throwing it to her sister. Leon play-fought back, but not hard, and Celine managed to wiggle into his arms, leaning the two of them up against his car. Leon seemed startled at his good fortune. Aurelie turned to throw the sword back to her sister, but stopped. Gabriel caught a brief look of disappointment flicker across her face. "Maybe we should leave them be", she said.

They wandered over to lean against the wall again. "If they're busy", Aurelie said hesitantly, "what about us?"

Gabriel sighed. "What -about- us?"

"Aren't you interested in me?" She looked up at him through her eyelashes. It was almost perfectly done. It was also a dance that Gabriel knew far too well from the society coquettes he saw so often. It was almost unfair to play it with her, especially when he knew from those little side glances at Leon that she thought she'd already lost.

Instead he turned to face the lights of the town, then looked at her over his shoulder. "You're nice, and very sweet and pretty, but there will only ever be one girl for me." It was the truth.

She stilled at that, and looked at him with a far more honest gaze. "Really? I didn't know. Who's the lucky girl?"

"I don't know. I haven't met her yet", he admitted sheepishly.

Aurelie stifled a snicker, then a snort. Her shoulders relaxed. "You really are a unique kind of guy, Gabe."

"Thanks, I think?" He turned to face her again. "Besides. I know where you really want to be, and with who." He gestured pointedly with his eyes over Aurelie's shoulder, to where her sister was making out with Leon.

Aurelie blushed. "...yeah. I didn't hide it very well, did I?".

"You hid it well enough that only the wrong guy noticed", Gabriel smiled. "Maybe you should fix that."

She looked into his face with more gentleness than he was expecting. "No hard feelings?"

"No."

She grinned. "Sorry about this, then". She took a step back from him and called over her shoulder in a fake whiny kind of pout-voice, "Leeeeeon, Gabe doesn't want to plaaaaaay. Can I join yooouuur club?"

Leon and Celine both looked up from their kissing and at her like they'd forgotten she was still there. Then Leon grinned and stretched out one arm towards her. "Sure. Plenty of room over here."

Aurelie slipped Gabriel a wink, then ran over and slipped into Leon's waiting arm. The two sisters began kissing up the side of his neck. After a minute someone, it wasn't clear who, clicked the car door open and the three of them climbed into the back seat, shutting the door firmly behind them.

It was going to be either a long wait or a long walk home. Gabriel picked up the second antenna from where Aurelie had left it on the wall and began a two-handed combat de canne drill. One of the basic ones, but he needed to drill it until it was without thought, and the antenna were about the right length and springiness. Once he'd done that drill about eight times, he tried a new drill that Anton had taught him the weekend before. Around about when his makeshift cannes tangled with each other for the fourth time, he saw lights and heard engines coming up the hill. A minute or two later, two cars pulled up, teenagers hanging out of the windows, music turned up to 11.

"Gabe!" one called. "Thought we might find you guys up here. Where's Leon?"

Gabriel gestured to the car. "He's busy."

There was a burst of laughter and a cheer or two, and one of the cars reversed suddenly then pulled forward so its headlights were shining straight into the back window of Leon's car. They honked the horn and yelled "LEON! LEON!".

A fist rose up from the back seat, and slowly extended a thick, hairy middle finger. A moment later, two daintier hands rose up, one either side, each sporting a perfectly shaped hot-pink fingernail on their extended middle fingers.

"Huh? Who's he with?"

Gabriel just grinned. "Twins", he said.

The honking and yelling and cheering went on for a full minute after that revelation. Then the guy who'd called out to Gabriel first said "Hey, they're going to be a while, huh. Want a lift back down the hill?"

"I'd love one. Think you can drop me near the cinema?"

"Sure. Squeeze in!"

The cars took off in a burst of dirt and dust on the gravel, heading back to town.


"No hard feelings".

The words echoing in his head, Gabriel closed the sketchbook on yet another drawing of the same thing. He really needed to finish up his fashion portfolio so that he could submit it to a couple of companies he'd like to get some work experience or even actual work with. Try as he might to work on a different idea though, Gabriel was still struck by that image of the three fists giving all of them - the cars, the yells and honks, the whole world - all the finger. And he'd appreciated Aurelie's honesty. Once she'd realised the game was up, instead of redoubling her efforts she'd just gone straight for the truth. It was naïve of her, but somehow so real.

Then the idea finally, finally took form.

He went to the town's fabric shop and found some simple jersey fabric in the exact shade of that fingernail polish. Cutting two oversized singlets in the twins' size was fairly straight forward, he had long ago memorised the basic pattern for t-shirts and singlets. He got a wooden pallet from behind the supermarket when the forklift guy was on break, and used the planks to make a screenprinting frame. An art supplies shop was able to sell him opaque white fabric printing paint, and screen material for the frame. It took a few sketches, but eventually he had the design exactly the way he wanted it, and cut it into thick paper.

The day after he'd finished the singlets, he put them into a paper bag and headed to the centre of town. Leon was near the icecream shop. Both Celine and Aurelie were with him, roller skating in circles around him. "Leon!" Gabriel called out. "Celine! Aurelie! I have something for you!". The girls spun to the side to lose speed, then changed direction and headed straight for him. He resisted the urge to run away, instead clutching the bag a little tighter.

"Can we see?" Aurelie asked. He tossed her the bag. She caught it and reached in, pulling out a hot pink singlet. "This looks great, Gabe! Did you make it?"

"I did, and I printed them too."

The two girls shrugged a singlet on each over their white T-shirts and grey stonewashed jeans. As he'd intended, the singlets hung about to mini-skirt-length on them, neckline hanging very low and showing off the white shirt underneath. The fact that they were a perfect colour match to the rollerskate wheels was a bonus. Aurelie spun in a circle on her skates. "What do you think?"

Leon saw the back of the singlet, and burst out laughing. Gabriel had carefully printed in solid block-white a fist with its middle finger extended. He'd left the fingernail just as an outline, so that the singlet gave it its colour – the same colour as the twins' own nail polish.

Celine pulled a Polaroid camera out of her backpack and handed it to Gabriel. "Take a photo of us, please?"

Gabriel took two. He gave one to Leon and the girls, showing them squeezed up against each other smiling happily in the bright summer's light, and put the other in his pocket.


Three weeks later, he sat across from an interview panel with his portfolio open on the table between them, thinking how to phrase his answer to their question. "I think that timeless styles are important", he began. "They allow for greater elegance and grace, they give dignity. But for that to be true, you have to have a balance. Something that makes fashion youthful, in the moment, about now. Colour and texture that the timeless styles can stand out against." He took a breath. "If I were to change anything about your current lines, I would add a line especially for young people, that captured their world right at this moment. They don't want to be timeless, because they already live right now." He tapped the page in front of him and pushed it towards the interviewers, who leaned in to look at the details.

There, against a swatch of pink fabric and a few pencilled sketches, was a taped in Polaroid. The interviewers flipped through a few more pages, looking at the details and the notes that went with the designs, then turned back to the Polaroid and looked at it for a while. "You certainly have an eye for what's in, I must admit", said one of the interviewers. "We'll look at your portfolio, interview the others we have, and let you know in a few days if you were successful at gaining this position. If you win it, though, you will be working harder than you ever did at school. Can you do it?"

They all looked back down at the photo.

It showed a beach-side street, with a young man with curly brown hair facing away from the camera. He wore a royal blue sweatshirt with a picture of Michel Platini printed on the back in navy and red. He had each arm casually over the shoulders of a girl on either side of him. Both girls were on rollerskates, and wore a hot-pink singlet with a rude hand gesture printed on it in strong, clear white shapes. The three of them walked and skated away into the distance, never looking back.

"I can", Gabriel answered firmly. "Thank you for interviewing me." He closed his portfolio and handed it to them, then left.


A/N: The end! Thanks for reading this! I love reviews and comments, and I know this story is a little unusual for the fandom but it was fun to write Young!Gabriel anyhow. This was going to be a (longish) one-shot but after I lost all my notes and plotwork for it for the *second* time I started posting each section as soon as I'd written it, just in case :-) so it ended up probably a little longer than I'd originally intended. Thanks for following along!

Reviews: The site is telling me that there are three more reviews, thank you :-) but I can't see them! To the guest who posted, I saw your review briefly when I approved it (before it vanished) so I'll try to reply from memory. Class is a really complicated thing, and despite France in the 1980s being one of the more egalitarian societies around (way better than the UK), you can't ever completely escape the fact that most people only want to associate with those they consider "worthy", which leads to stratification. Gabriel's job is to negotiate along that boundary, and it's not easy :-).

As to the bromance you mentioned, I deliberately left Leon and Gabe's relationship a little ambiguous. I think that men's relationships with each other can be pretty complex at times and that there should be a diversity of male relationships visible in the media rather than always falling back on simplified tropes. I also think that Gabriel bonds fast and deep when he falls, with both friends and lovers. Sometimes you just know about someone, right? Then there's the thing where the 1980s was a weird time to be gay because of the AIDS scare. If you didn't live through that, I don't think I can describe how much of an impact this inimical, incurable, killer disease had and how much fear it caused. But most of all, I couldn't define Leon and Gabe's relationship exactly because tbh I don't know myself. Neither of them would tell me.