Prompt: Sherlock, John and Sarah as ducks. They're a little family group. Sarah is going to have the ducklings, John's going to make sure she's alright as the proud father and Sherlock's going to stand guard, protect them and help raise the little ones because someone's going to have to teach the little ducklings the proper way of the world.
I would like John and Sherlock arguing about where's the best place to nest, John fussing over Sarah, Sherlock cracking angrily at anyone who comes too close, and the baby ducklings adoring Uncle Sherlock who teaches them how to spot the humans most likely to have bread.
(The Good Omens crossover was so much easier than trying to write a Watership Down for ducks, and my titling continues to suck.)
"I know this may surprise you," Crowley said, "but there are parks other than St James's."
"I know, Crowley," Aziraphale said patiently.
"Well? Come on, let's go. Surely we've fed enough ducks by now."
"Oh, but you haven't seen John and Sarah yet! They'll be bringing their ducklings today!"
"You named the ducks?" Crowley said incredulously. He answered his own question, shaking his head. "...Of course you named the ducks."
"I want to have their favourites ready for them," Aziraphale said firmly, easily ignoring Crowley. "It's a big moment in a duck's life, the first time they bring their ducklings to the water. Now, John prefers the soggy Hovis with Marmite-"
"Ah, loyal to the service, eh?" Crowley said mildly. He gave the bread he'd been expecting to throw a disappointed look. It obediently changed brands.
"–whereas Sarah is the more discerning sort. And Sherlock is uncanny at knowing who has freshly baked bread."
"Well he would be, name like Sherlock," Crowley said, nodding along indulgently. Then he ran through a little mental calculation in his head. "Hang on. That's three ducks. You only need two ducks for ducklings. That's normally how it works."
"Sherlock and John work as a pair," Aziraphale explained. "If she wanted ducklings with John, Sarah had to put up with Sherlock. It looked like she'd be frightened off for a while, but it all worked out nicely in the end."
Crowley shook his head in disbelief. "Only you, Aziraphale. Only you could somehow find and adopt a ménage à trois of ducks."
"Love is beautiful in all its forms," Aziraphale said serenely. "But Sherlock isn't interested in breeding, so ménage à trois is technically incorrect."
"You have a gay duck named Sherlock. Partnered with a duck named John. I don't know if I should laugh or cry." Crowley did neither, of course. He was, after all, English by naturalisation and demon by nature. He thought about blessing himself for the question he was about to ask. "...Why isn't Sarah called Mary, then?"
"My dear, you don't expect ducks to know narrative convention, do you?"
Crowley opened his mouth to say something, realised there were no words, and closed it again.
"Besides, she was named Sarah long before she met Sherlock and John," Aziraphale continued blithely, "I couldn't possibly change her name just because it doesn't hold true to Arthur's stories."
"Of course not," Crowley agreed. "Whatever was I thinking?"
"I don't know," Aziraphale said, sarcasm sliding off him easier than water off the proverbial duck. "But you can help name the ducklings, if you like."
Crowley thought about saying how naming ducklings was just one of those many, many things demons simply didn't do, up there with helping old grannies across a road or paying for anything, or, or, healing bicycles – and then he thought about just what Aziraphale was likely to name the poor things. It had nothing whatsoever to do with the slightly hopeful expression on Aziraphale's face. "Sure," he said. "OK."
Aziraphale beamed at him. "Wonderful!"
Crowley's slouch approached terminal embarrassment, gave it a nod and proceeded into 'let's find a deep hole and hide'.
He was momentarily saved when a mother duck appeared leading a string of ducklings, two drakes apparently guarding the rear.
"One, two, three," Crowley muttered, "– stop moving about – three, four, no, that's four, five –"
"Nine," Aziraphale said delightedly. "Oh, aren't they sweet?"
Crowley hoped Aziraphale didn't expect an answer from him, there was only so low he could sink before his pride retaliated with things traditionalist demons would look askance at. "This is the famous threesome we've been waiting for, then?"
"Of course it is," Aziraphale said. "Look at Sherlock, that one there, he's working out if we have bread worth approaching for."
Crowley stared. The duck named Sherlock paused momentarily in his scan of the surroundings and stared back intently. A battle of wills commenced.
"And, of course, the smaller fellow is John, he got the limp trying to take on one of the pelicans over a nesting site. Golem, I think. Terrible business. "
Crowley tore his eyes away from Sherlock's, inadvertently losing the battle. "One of the pelicans?" he said, impressed despite himself. "I've seen one of them eat a pigeon."
"I know," Aziraphale said. "I was there when you goaded it to do so."
"I didn't have to goad it into anything," Crowley protested. "These new ones, they're still Russian to the core."
"They've been here forty years now, Crowley."
"Four years, forty years," Crowley said, waving a hand dismissively, "what's the difference? I still can't believe I managed to get someone to go to Moscow to ask for new pelicans at the height of the Cold War. Could have got them from anywhere, but no, if the originals came from Russia, replacements have got to come from Russia. I mean, honestly, why? ...Don't even think of saying 'ineffable', angel."
"I was going to say that the answer to your query was 'Englishness'." Aziraphale said. "John got the nesting site, in case you were wondering."
Crowley stared at him. He looked at the unassuming duck, watching the milling ducklings with what appeared to be longsuffering patience. "He took on the Golem over a nesting site and won? You've got to be kidding me."
"Well, he had help, of course."
"Of course. Look at him! The Golem's three times his size, he could probably swallow that little ball of feathers whole!"
"They might not have a clue about narrative convention, but apparently they know tactics," Aziraphale said. He sounded a little disappointed in their priorities.
Crowley watched one of the ducklings nip at their 'Uncle' Sherlock's tail feathers. "I'm naming that one Moriarty," he said. "He'll grow up obsessed with trying to better Uncle Sherlock, it'll be better than a Greek tragedy."
"There's already a Moriarty, dear," Aziraphale said, obviously trying to break the news gently. He paused. "Well, there was," he corrected. "He threatened Sarah at some point in the courting stages, John went to Sherlock and, well, there was a weir involved."
"You've brought me a murderous threesome of ducks," Crowley said, delight in every syllable. "It's like you've known me for six thousand years or something." He looked again at the duckling, waddling along behind Sherlock, imitating everything the elder duck did. "Fine, he can be Jim," he said at last. "But if anyone asks, you named him."
"Of course, my dear," Aziraphale said, amused. "That one there, about to fall in the water, I think I'll name her Violet."
"Cruel. She'll never live up to a name like that. I like it."
Crowley looked down and into the belligerent stare of Sherlock the duck, surrounded by beady-eyed ducklings. The one Aziraphale had just named realised it was alone on the bank, looked around and waddled in their direction. "Erk, " Crowley said, which was probably slightly less embarrassing than what he might have otherwise said, something involving ninjas and ducks and how they shouldn't mix, unlike ducks and threesomes and murderous inclinations.
"Quack," Sherlock repeated imperiously.
Very slowly and carefully, Crowley reached down and shredded some bread for him. Beside him, Aziraphale smothered something that sounded suspiciously like a laugh at Crowley's expense.
Sherlock studied the bread offered. He looked at it intently for a minute, nibbled a corner, and considered.
Crowley was appalled to discover that he was actually quite nervous about the verdict.
Sherlock lunged for the bag at Crowley's feet, grabbed a slice of bread and ran towards the waiting Sarah and John, followed by a noisy stream of ducklings.
"Unbelievable," Crowley said, staring. "That ungrateful little bastard."
"Don't be mean, Crowley, he's just showing off the bread."
The duck did indeed appear to be showing off the stolen slice of bread, cajoling the other two adults into eating before any of them would let the ducklings try.
"...is he lecturing them?" Crowley said incredulously after a moment.
They watched as he proceeded to lead the ducklings around, occasionally deigning to accept bread, more often ignoring people's overtures.
"I knew I made the right choice naming him Sherlock," Aziraphale murmured. "Mind you, I did have evidence from his mother's previous clutch regarding his potential intelligence – Mycroft has grown quite round with his ability to discern who has the best bread."
"...Is Mycroft that one duck that rolls instead of walks?"
"How did you guess?"
"...Never mind," Crowley said, watching as Sherlock herded the ducklings away from a clearly substandard piece of baking that had been thrown in their midst. Jim would have eaten it anyway, Crowley suspected, but apparently something from Tesco just wasn't good enough for John and Sarah's ducklings as far as Sherlock was concerned.
"...We're going to be coming back often, aren't we?" He said at last.
Aziraphale looked over from where he was carefully shredding bread for John and Sarah and smiled. "If you like," he said carefully.
Crowley's mouth twitched as Sherlock led the ducklings over and demanded more bread from him with an arrogant quack. "You think I'm going to miss how little Jim turns out? Not a chance. I'll have made a little psycho-duck out of him before the year's end."
"Whatever you say, Crowley," Aziraphale said indulgently.
"I will!" Crowley insisted. "I'll find him a Sebastian too, and together they'll take over the park!"
"Ah," Aziraphale countered, "Then I'll help Sherlock and John marshal together a flock of Scotland Yarders. There's already a Lestrade and a Gregson."
"You said it yourself, they've got no idea they're meant to lose!"
"They also have no idea they're not supposed to be able to judge who has the best bread, and yet they do anyway."
"Spoilsport," Crowley said, grinning as he gave Jim a piece of bread too large for him and prompted an all-out war among the ducklings. He looked at Sherlock, watching him suspiciously, and then at John and Sarah, neatening each other's feathers. "We'll be here every afternoon, try not to miss out," he informed the duck cheerfully.
"Really, my dear," Aziraphale murmured, but didn't argue. He passed the last of the bread to Sarah and stood up. "Come along, Crowley, isn't it time for you to wander to and fro?"
"Ducks are much more difficult to influence than people," Crowley informed him, tossing the last piece of bread to the duckling he was pretty sure was a Stanley. "I need a break. How about lunch?"
When Jim Met Seb
"Right-o," said Anthony Crowley. "Pay attention now, Jimmy."
'Jimmy' paid very close attention to the bag of bread at Crowley's feet.
"No," Crowley said firmly. "Not the bread, Jim." He snapped his fingers. The bread vanished, and Jimmy's attention with it. Crowley scowled, and picked up the half-grown duckling at his feet, shoving it towards the inattentive Jim. "This is Sebastian, alright? Sebastian." Jim gave the duckling in Crowley's hands a look, and then went back to trying to work out where the bread had gone.
Crowley blessed under his breath at the sound of Aziraphale's scandalised voice. "Do you mind? I'm trying to orchestrate a legendary partnership here!"
"Crowley, did you steal that duckling?"
"It wandered away from its flock, I adopted it!"
"Put it right back where it came from! Really, Crowley!"
"Crowley," Aziraphale warned.
Crowley looked again at the duckling in his hands. Now that he thought about it, was it really worthy of being the right-hand – er, wing – duck of his psychotic little mastermind? Was it even a proper Sebastian? The way it was attempting to chew its feet made it look like a generic minion. Sighing, Crowley flung the duck away.
"Crowley!" Aziraphale yelped, horrified.
"It landed in the water!" Crowley protested. "See? It's bobbing around like a cork, no need to worry."
"The poor thing could have been seriously hurt!"
"But it wasn't," Crowley insisted. "Jim thought it was funny," he added, a trace of sulkiness in his voice.
"Jim is a duckling. A duckling you have been rewarding with manna every time he pecks some poor human on the ankle."
Crowley absolutely did not blush. "You've got to start training 'em young," he muttered, avoiding Aziraphale's stare. "Anyway," he brightened, "you've got to make it up to me now and help me find a new Sebastian, since I lost the other one because of you."
"You lost the other one because you just threw it in the pond," Aziraphale said firmly. "And besides - you can't force these things, Crowley."
"And you had nothing to do with Sherlock and John getting together, I'm sure," Crowley scowled. "You can't fool me – I know your 'total coincidence, nothing divine going on here' intervention when I see it."
"A nudge here and there doesn't count," Aziraphale sniffed.
"It totally counts!" Crowley protested. "Anyway, if you're not going to help, go entertain Sherlock so I can go off and st-acquire another duckling without him going Batman on me again."
"Batman, Crowley?" Aziraphale sniggered. "Really?"
"Some other non-powered vigilante, then," Crowley snapped, "just make sure he doesn't do it. Those beaks hurt."
"Oh, my poor dear," Aziraphale crooned. He was completely unsympathetic, Crowley felt, to his terrible plight. He pulled out his ace:
"I'll buy cream buns. Two of them, just for you."
"Soft, light pastry," Crowley said, gently cajoling. "A lake or two of rich, thick cream, and juuuust the right amount of strawberry jam..."
"You old serpent," Aziraphale said, in the tone of someone faced with temptation and enjoying every second of it.
"All I ask is that Sherlock get a little more attention," Crowley said, careful to keep the triumph out of his voice. "Is that so terrible? In exchange for cream buns?"
"Stealing a duckling, though," Aziraphale said, wavering.
"Getting Jimmy a playmate," Crowley countered. "Think of the ducklings, Aziraphale, the poor lonely ducklings."
"Well, he wouldn't be lonely if you hadn't taught him to try and eat his siblings," Aziraphale said disapprovingly.
"Who cares about mild cannibalistic tendencies when there are cream buns involved? Cream buns, angel."
"Oh, very well," Aziraphale sighed. "I'll want some proper Danish pastries as well, though. From Denmark."
"Where else would they be from?" Crowley said, baffled, then hurriedly continued before Aziraphale could change his mind. "You'll distract Sherlock for me, then?"
"Of course," the angel said, waving a hand. "Best be quick about it, though. If he catches on, I'm not going to step in for you. It's not covered in the Arrangement."
"Coward," Crowley muttered under his breath.
"Pragmatist," Aziraphale retorted. "Go arrange your play date, Crowley."
"It's not a play date," Crowley protested, mock-scandalised. "It's a meeting of destiny! A fated partnership! Legend in duck form!"
Aziraphale's supremely unimpressed look brought back fond memories of Vikings fleeing en masse from a monastery they'd been attempting to pillage. Crowley did the sensible thing and headed towards Molly and her offspring at a speed just a little too fast to be classified as 'walking'.
Jim followed at a more sedate pace because Crowley had yet to teach him the error of his ways in underestimating a fashion-challenged book-loving angel.
"Well, then," Crowley said, clapping his hands together with a look of glee. "Which one of you is a Sebastian? Any ideas, Jim?"
Jim looked at him, and then pointedly looked at his feet, where, as far as the duck was concerned, a bag of bread should always be.
"Fine," Crowley said, exasperated. "I'll find him."
He looked back at the ducklings, deliberately casual. (Molly was not quite as terrifying as Sherlock – he could call in reinforcements – but there was a reason Crowley hadn't tried to find a Sebastian among her ducklings before.)
"You - no, you're definitely a Vivi... you're a Jabez... Mary... Percy..."
Jim wandered over to one of the ducklings closest to the water and engaged it in conversation.
"...James... found a friend, Jim? ...Mary... wait a moment..."
Jim and the new duckling looked at him. Crowley peered at them. They stared back, unimpressed even when he removed his sunglasses. Normally Crowley would take that as a sign of stupidity, but Jim was a vicious little bugger, and his new companion looked like a regular little Woundwort.
"Sebastian!" Crowley said delightedly.
Newly-named Sebastian continued to be unimpressed.
"I can tell this is going to be the beginning of a beautiful partnership," Crowley told them both, scooping them up in his arms and running away as fast as possible, hoping to have a head start before Molly noticed.
"Aziraphale," he crowed, skidding to a halt beside the bemused angel. "Aziraphale, look, I got him, I found Seb–"
It was at that moment Sherlock attacked and he hit the ground in a hail of feathers and raucous quacking.
"You really shouldn't have announced the successful stealing of a duckling in front of him," Aziraphale said pityingly. "Honestly, Crowley."
"Little help?" Crowley called from somewhere beneath the enraged duck.
"As ye sow, so shall ye reap," the angel said piously. "But... there is going to be a book auction in Glasgow soon..."
Crowley might have said something, if he weren't on the receiving end of new knowledge that a swan's wings were hardly the only type that hurt if they hit you in the face.
"First editions, and of course, it would go against the Arrangement if I were to go to Glasgow..."
"Fine!" Crowley managed to yelp. "Fine! Just–" Whatever he would have said next was obscured by John joining the fray on the general (and sensible) principle that if Sherlock was going to attack someone five times his size he shouldn't do it alone and probably needed help.
Aziraphale watched a little longer. Just to be sure he could separate them safely, of course.