Untitled gen Aziraphale & Crowley fic, much of which is set in St. James's Park, from your secret writer!
The demon Crowley had been on Earth for over six millennia, and in that time had seen many things. The slow march of humankind from nakedness in the grass to machines that razed grass to the ground, the rise and fall of entire empires, tiny umbrellas that went right in your drink -
In six thousand years, one sees many things.
In six thousand years, Crowley had not seen this.
It had started out as a fine day, the Apocalypse remaining ble-damnably averted, divine retribution still not having crashed down upon their heads. Crowley had meandered around to meet up with Aziraphale for some mutual thwarting in one of their usual haunts, and had come upon something of a surprise.
In the middle of St. James’s Park was a duck.
This in and of itself was not unusual, such creatures often being found in ponds. They are, however, typically not the size and general consistency of a whale's hot air balloon. It sat there, enormous and the bright yellow of seasonally inappropriate fruit, its soulless eyes levelling an accusatory stare at him like he had just squashed its tiny rubber ducklings.
“Er,” said Crowley, and he wandered towards a bench to sit down.
It wasn’t too long before Aziraphale came along, preceded by angelic complaints.
“- the sign clearly said closed, the people you get these days,” said Aziraphale, fiddling with his tartan scarf and oblivious to the sight before him. “Oh, there you are, Crowley, I do apologize for being late-“
“No problem,” said Crowley. “Aziraph-“
“- but there was this very insistent woman at the shop who just wouldn’t-“
“- leave, and then on the way here there was this poor little dear who’d lost a scooter wheel down a drain-“
“Aziraphale,” said Crowley, pointing. “Look.”
Aziraphale followed Crowley’s finger and turned to face the lake.
“Oh my,” said Aziraphale. “How unusual.”
“You’re telling me. It’s been giving me the evil eye since I got here,” said Crowley, “and I would know.”
Aziraphale took a moment to do scrutinize the duck.
"Is this one of yours?" he said, with the skepticism of a grandmother whose offer of third helpings has just been declined.
"Oh, yes," said Crowley. "Mass confusion. Disruption of public order. Obstruction of strategically important waterways?" A child along the bank to their right shrieked happily and pointed at the duck, beaming at her father. "Noise pollution. All part of Hell's daring new strategy."
Aziraphale gave him a look. "Somehow, my dear, I get the idea that you are pulling my leg."
"You'll be two inches taller by sundown," said Crowley. He waved a hand in front of him. "Really, Aziraphale, you know I have a finer touch than this."
"It does lack a certain... subtlety."
The two of them looked at the duck for a moment. It drifted gently across the surface of the lake, casting the world into a cheery yellowish shadow.
"Is it one of yours, maybe?" said Crowley, hopefully. "It's just it's rather a blight on the scenery. Perhaps I should thwart it."
"This isn't our side's style," Aziraphale sniffed. “Large rubber bath toys are hardly a typical source of divine inspiration.”
The muffled sound of a fan coming to life from inside the duck reached them. It rattled.
“Perhaps it’s a source of demonic inspiration,” he added, reproachfully.
“I’ll have a go at getting rid of it,” said Crowley. “Because it’s, hmm, bringing joy to the masses. I think.”
The next day, Crowley slipped out of the Bentley and sauntered into St. James’s Park towards the lake. He was ready. He’d come prepared. He was thinking in italics. In his hand was a long, thin fire iron. It was sharp like a very sharp thing, indeed. It glinted.
No one stopped him on his way to the duck, partly because no one's brains expected to see a modern, sharply dressed man in a suit wielding an object more suited to a time several millennia past, and partly because, well, Crowley didn't want to be stopped by small children asking if he was with the carnival.
At the lake’s edge, Crowley surreptitiously unfurled his wings and leapt onto the duck, brandishing the fire iron like an umbrella. He landed on its back, and stuck the tire iron into it.
The air whistled out of the giant rubber duck with a sound like a pixie’s bagpipe, which was hardly the spectacle he’d been hoping for. Crowley stood, his satisfaction and altitude sinking as the duck slowly deflated to the distant distress of a party of kindergarteners near the lake edge.
It may not have been stylish, but the job was done. He went on his way.
Crowley and Aziraphale met up again in the park a few days later, whereupon they were met once again by an enormous rubber duck. It was there in its full glory, with the addition of a neat bit of patchwork. The duck’s featureless eyes were facing them, and looked like windows into the end of the universe.
“Hm,” said Aziraphale, with the tone of one refraining from swearing only because they haven’t yet decided on a word.
“Heaven’s wind chimes,” said Crowley. “It’s back.”
“I suppose I’ll have a go, then?” said Aziraphale. “Clearly this sculpture is of strategic importance to your side. Because you, er, were trying to prevent us from getting it?”
“If only the duck were as flimsy as our excuses,” said Crowley. “Have at it, angel.”
Aziraphale decided to take a slightly more diplomatic approach. He phoned up the number written on the giant duck’s backside and got ready to use his most cajoling voice, although Crowley had once told him it made him sound like he was trying to sell something.
“Ah, yes, hello,” Aziraphale said, cutting the voice off. “About the duck in St. James’s Park.”
“Er. Yes? What’s the problem?”
“That’s hardly an appropriate setting for it.”
“Is it not?”
“There must be somewhere else for it.”
“Somewhere less serene? Somewhere better lit? The pond there is hardly going to draw the crowds the duck deserves, is it?”
“Those are fair points, sir. We’ll take them under consideration.”
A few days later, Crowley went back to St. James’s Park to find Aziraphale struggling to maintain his angelic composure. The duck was still there, and now there were spotlights pointed at it, flashing various tasteless colours. There was also a stand nearby selling smaller rubber ducks, several of which had found themselves lost in the pond.
“Angel,” said Crowley, as Aziraphale sat, despondent, on their usual park bench. “It’s spawned.”
“I may have made a phone call that did not result in the desired outcome.”
“There is now a duck-themed discothèque in the middle of the park.”
Aziraphale heaved a sigh that could have levelled mountains. “Perhaps,” he said, “it is time to resort to one of the old mainstays.”
The next night, the pair of them hefted a can of petrol from the Bentley across the park to the duck. It was rather more full than should have been possible, and sloshed ominously. Crowley leapt with it onto the duck’s back, with which he was becoming more familiar than he’d have liked.
“Oh, a demon,” called Aziraphale, feigning surprise with all the vigour of a bored seventh-grader performing Shakespeare.
“I’m here to sully this divine monument to God’s creations,” said Crowley, energetically emptying the can over the back of the duck. “How terrible it would be if someone were to bring on some cleansing fire.”
“Just a minute, dear,” said Aziraphale, who was unsuccessfully trying to light a match. “Ah, here we are.” He threw a lit match after Crowley, or at least where Crowley had been several long moments before. The duck went up in flames like an uninspired image of the gates of Hell, albeit at least in a less typical shape. Crowley and Aziraphale went and sat on a bench and settled down to watch it as though it were a campfire.
Some time later, it became apparent that the fire was doing nothing except confusing the fish.
“Aziraphale,” said Crowley. “You had a flaming sword.”
“You don’t have any tricks, do you? Related to the flaming?”
“I am an angel of the Lord,” said Aziraphale, half-heartedly. “I do not have tricks.”
“A nice big butane torch, then?”
“I think the wretched thing’s got us beat, my dear. Let’s get drunk.”
The two of them sat on top of the slightly charred duck in the moonlight, passing a bottle of nondescript wine between them. This had been going on for quite some time.
“Will,” Aziraphale began, and then paused.
“No, ‘m Crowley,” said Crowley.
“Shush,” Aziraphale said, and began again. “Will alcol. Alcool. Will booze dissolve this bird?”
Crowley held up the bottle and peered blurrily into its depths.
“Nnn. No,” he said. “Don’t think so. Waste of a fine vintage, anyway.” He received a doubtful look from Aziraphale, who leaned over unsteadily to get a better look at the label.
“It says ‘wine drink,’ my dear.”
“The best Château Merdique,” said Crowley, pouring himself another glass, “that the world has to offer. I thought it fitting. A toast?”
“To the best view in the park,” said Aziraphale.
“To the Eiffel Tower of ducks,” said Crowley.
They clinked their glasses together, and spent the rest of the night in St. James’s Park, sitting on the duck where it was firmly out of their sights.