They always put him in the same cell, right from the first time when he'd grabbed the keys to his dad's cruiser when he wasn't watching and drove it down the block at age nine, although that time his parents had only had him locked in for about ten minutes in the hopes of scaring him straight.
By the fifth time he'd been dragged in there, by then thirteen, they'd pretty much given up on the idea of that ever happening.
It was fine, as far as cells went. The mattress on the small cot in it was decently soft, a hell of a lot better than the rock-hard slabs they called beds in juvie, the toilet kept well scrubbed even if it didn't offer any privacy (not that it mattered; as long as his parents weren't around any of the old officers who'd known him since he was in diapers would let him out long enough to use the staff bathroom), there was a TV for any officers who happened to be around that was positioned so he could see it, and as long as things weren't going insane they never made him share with any of the other creeps, freaks, or drunks that were brought in while he was around. He'd even personalized it a tiny bit, with a row of nicks chipped into the bottom edge of the bed frame to mark each time he'd been there, an idea that had seemed like the right thing to do to mark off time spent in 'the big house' to his cartoon-watching nine-year-old self that he'd wound up keeping up out of tradition.
The other delinquents he knew (at least, those aware of his family situation, which wasn't many; nobody was going to trust a cop's kid unless they'd known him long enough to realize there was no way he was a snitch) couldn't believe that he committed most of his crimes where he'd be dragged in to his parent's detachment if he was caught. They didn't get the benefits that came from being nabbed by a bunch of people who still saw him as the baby they used to spoil no matter how much shit he got up to. The only cops who'd known him back then and could actually pull off the tough love thing were his old man and mom, and he'd gotten very good at avoiding being caught until they were both off-duty, or at least off patrolling.
"Hey, Dunc," Officer Simmons, a rake-thin balding man who had coached Duncan's little league team when he was six and still always snuck him candy at boring functions that officers had to drag their families to, said, interrupting his thoughts. "Going out to lunch now. You want me to bring you back something?"
"Nah," he said, giving the man a lazily sarcastic salute in greetings and thanks for the offer. "I don't plan on being here that long."
"Ah, that's too bad. It's always good to see you around here, Dunc, and these days it seems like it only happens when you're in custody." Simmons leaned against one of the bars that made up the cell door and gave him a fond smile. "When d'you plan on settling down and joining the force like the rest of your family?"
"I wouldn't get my hopes up if I were you, Coach."
"Now that's too bad." He glanced at the clock and straightened up again. "Tell you what, I'll bring back a sandwich just in case and if you aren't here I'll pass it on to someone else."
Duncan knew that he meant 'just in case your parents get here before you get out,' because there was no way somebody hadn't called them as soon as they noticed that he didn't, and shrugged. "Yeah, fine." If he did end up stuck staying there for awhile, take out would be better then the food they served the people they had in holding.
When he was gone Duncan threw himself down onto his cot, crossing his arms behind his head and staring up at the familiar ceiling. He practically had the pattern of the cracks in it memorized after how many times he'd been in that same position. But this time his stay had an interesting difference from every other time he'd been stuck in there: his parents might (hopefully would) not be the ones who showed up to collect him. Or, more likely when it was them, to tell the rest of the officers not to let anyone else collect him then leave him to cool his heels for awhile. Now there was nothing he could do but wait and see who would get there first, his parents or his girl.
The question was answered by the sharp click of heels tapping briskly against the tile floor a short while later. A slow smirk spread across his face as he heard them come his way. Just the sound was annoyed, short quick steps with a little more force behind them than was really necessary, like she'd be outright stomping her feet if she were only ten years younger or somewhere more private. There was only one person in the world who could convey their annoyance with him through nothing but the sound of their feet, and his mom wasn't it.
"Flushing a cherry bomb? Seriously, Duncan?" she said the instant she was outside of the cell door. "Do you seriously think I'm going to pay your bail for something so... so juvenile?"
"I am a juvenile delinquent, Babe. What do you expect?" he said, shoving himself to his feet, the smirk still firmly in place. "And I don't think you're gonna pay. I know you already have. Otherwise Gus wouldn't be holding the key." He nodded to the man standing just behind her, a guy with the soft loose look of someone who'd lost a lot of weight at some point. When he was fifteen, the excuse of community service over some crime had been used to recruit Duncan into jogging with the man first thing every morning to make sure he didn't slack off on the exercise he needed to get down to a healthy weight before he had another heart attack. He'd actually felt a little bit guilty that the sessions were cut off after half-a-year by him being sent to juvie, although Gus had obviously kept it up just fine on his own.
Courtney went an angry red, and as soon as he was in reach she reached through the bars and smacked him upside the head, making him chuckle and Gus look amazed that she'd gotten away with that. "Oh no. You don't get to be all cool and smug about this," she said. "Don't you get that you're not going to be a juvenile anything in a few more weeks? You complain about what juvie's like so much that I can't believe you'd want to go to jail."
"All the more reason to get all the indictable offenses out of my system before I'm an adult in the eyes of the law," he said, stepping quickly out of the way when she tried smacking him again.
"You, uh, really shouldn't be saying things like that in front of me, Duncan," Gus said as he unlocked the door.
"That was obviously a joke," Courtney snapped at him, though she kept her narrowed eyes fixed on Duncan. He raised an eyebrow and counted down the seconds until she realized she just yelled at an officer in uniform. Three... two... one... She suddenly went pale, but didn't try to apologize, the best sign he'd had yet of just how upset she was.
"Relax, Princess," he said, stepping out into freedom. "You must've realized when you moved out here that I'd be calling you to get me out of a cell sooner or later."
She turned away from him to start walking back down the hall, crossing her arms over her chest and jutting her chin out stubbornly. "Like I was thinking about you at all. I'm here because Brock University is a good school for me. It's accredited by the AACSB! No other reason."
"And you're driving a half-hour to school instead of living in St. Catharine's because?" He already knew the answer she was going to give, he'd heard it often enough when she was trying to convince herself that she hadn't moved halfway across the country for a guy, but it was fun to watch her try to delude herself. Like there was anything that weird about moving to someone when you've managed to make a long-distance relationship work through two years and more bat-shit insanity in the first few months than most people had to deal with in a lifetime.
"I don't like living in cities that large," she said sharply. "And the cost-of-living here is a little lower." Her cheeks went faintly pink and her eyes darted away from him. "Especially since I knew I'd be able to get a... roommate right away without having to search."
"Speaking of which," he said, draping his arm over her shoulders, "even if you weren't lying your head off when you said you weren't thinking of me when you picked your school--and no one in the world believes that, Princess--you really should've realized you'd be getting a call from here someday when you got an apartment with me."
She flushed even redder and hissed, "Well, maybe I hoped you'd grown up enough to control your criminal impulses for longer than five weeks. I don't know what made me so delusional."
He turned his face into the side of her head, making it look like an affectionate gesture to any watching officers when he was actually smirking into her hair and whispering for her ears only, "Five weeks before being caught, darling," then laughed when she elbowed him in the side. Really, in their day to day life she'd loosened up a hell of a lot from the way she'd been when he first met her, but he clearly needed to work on her more when it came to things on the shady side of legal. "Anyway," he said, raising his voice to a normal tone, "I wouldn't worry about my criminal impulses. Hey, May!" This was called out to an officer across the room, a matronly woman whose daughter had been the first person he ever went on a date with, if sneaking out of the police raffle together to stuff themselves at the McDonald's across the street when he was eleven really counted. "Maybe you should toss her in my cell for a while for corrupting a minor."
"First of all, I'd rather not think of the type of 'corrupting' that might be going on with someone I knew when he was in diapers. Bad enough I had to give that talk to my little girls. Secondly, you're seventeen, so we don't care," she said, in a tone that clearly stated that she wasn't in the mood to play along with his nonsense. "Last of all, we all watched that show of yours, kiddo. We know damn well which of you is corrupting which."
"I am not corrupted!" Courtney piped up, so indignant-sounding that he just about cracked up right there. When nobody piped up with statements of belief she repeated, "I'm not! Being involved with him didn't keep me from being Valedictorian of my graduating class or Student Council President two years running."
He thought about commenting on the fact that she'd had a pretty huge unfair advantage--probably even enough of one that it might as well be cheating--over her competitors who hadn't been on TV for a few seasons, but decided that he was probably deep enough in the doghouse that he should save that thought for another teasing session. And she said he hadn't matured.
He happened to glance at the clock then, and suddenly started pushing her towards the door without trying to be obvious about what he was doing. Luckily the new-and-improved at least slightly corrupted Courtney went along with his nonverbal urging to hurry it up with nothing more than a curious glance at him, not demanding explanations out of him like her sixteen-year-old self would have. He hadn't realized just how much time had passed since he'd been brought in; if he wanted to avoided getting caught there by his mom or dad he couldn't waste anymore time dawdling along teasing her instead of getting out. This really wasn't the type of situation he wanted her to meet his parents in (for one thing, he didn't really want her to ever meet them if he could possibly manage it; he was still debating whether he even wanted to drag his little brothers over to meet her some day soon, and he hadn't been avoiding them as much as possible practically since he'd hit puberty).
"Well, it was great to see everyone again. Maybe I'll throw up some graffiti in front of an eye-witness so we can do it again soo--OW!" He shot Courtney a quick glare, rubbed his arm where she'd just managed to whack his funny bone while punching it and vaguely wondered if he was going to break his current record for the most times he'd made her smack him in such a short time period. "...Or maybe not. Anyway, we need to go."
As he pushed her out the door he heard May call out after them, "If this is what he calls 'corruption', you keep it up until you've made a law-abiding citizen out of him, honey!" before the door fell closed behind him.
"Ha," he said, as he scanned the road and parking lot to make sure neither of his parent's cars were around. "She doesn't know that you'd be bored senseless if that happened."
She gave him a look, but he noticed that she didn't actually deny the allegation. All she said was, "I swear, Duncan, if you get yourself locked up I'm selling all your things the minute our lease it up and moving into the dorms."
"Ooh, Princess, maybe I am corrupting you. That'd be theft, you know." He slid into the passenger seat of her car, waiting until she got in on the other side before confiding in her, "Don't worry about it. The place was condemned anyway, last resident moved out yesterday. If I hadn't been spotted going in nobody would have given a shit that I took advantage of the fact they hadn't turned off the water yet." Admittedly, that had just been a test-run before he took his cherry bombs somewhere a lot more public, but she didn't need to know that. It wasn't like he could go through with that plan now without them guessing it was him in an instant. "All information about who did it will mysteriously disappear before anyone else ever even finds out there was a crime."
She stared at him slack jawed for a moment before managing to exclaim, "That is completely unethical!"
"Probably," he said as she turned the key and began to back out of her parking space. As if on cue he spotted a cruiser turning the corner a few blocks away in his side mirror, and knew, though it was way too far away for him to make out anyone through the windshield, who was in it. Too late for them now. "But it's a family thing."