Warning: 30 year age gap!
It may have seemed shocking, sudden, out of the blue, but it wasn't, it wasn't because Ducky could read minds. Well, not minds, but people... And maybe one mind.
While studying for his psychology degree, Dr Mallard became quietly fascinated by the minds of his friends and colleagues. In particular, the real time workings of those minds, what they were actually thinking at any given moment.
Timothy was quite interesting, he was often thinking far more than he let on, he would hide his theories until he was quite sure he could back them up and defend them, almost certainly a result of a fear of ridicule, brought about by experiences at school. If you knew what you were looking for, you could always tell when Timothy had an idea, and coaxing it out of him could be a major help to the case, as he was often right.
Ziva was difficult. She was so guarded that most of the time even she didn't know what she was thinking, and if she did, she often disapproved. She had a combination of a father, a drill sargent and a stern headmistress invisibly leaning over her shoulder at all times. It would be interesting to get her drunk, in the hope that her psychological chaperone might be one of the first casualties.
Antony was so transparent it was almost pointless, and Jethro hid all his less socially acceptable thoughts behind a thin vaneer of anger. Due to the huge number of thoughts he considered inappropriate, the vaneer of anger had almost covered all visible parts of his personality, but only very thinly. Everyone could see through it, and yet everyone seemed to believe in it. That in itself was a fascinating phenomenon.
Abby. Abby was the fascinating one for so many reasons. Primarily because of the pre-existing fascination he had with her, but also because as a middle aged woman, she still appeared quite convincingly to be in her teens. Because she was so very open and natural at all times. Because she was absolutely incapable of lying convincingly. But most of all, because her hands signed subconsciously when she was nervous. You wouldn't have to just speculate, with Abby, you could theorize about what she was thinking, then, just by watching, you could test your ideas. If you could speak sign language. Ducky couldn't. Learning was suddenly seeming very worthwhile.
And so, for purely scientific reasons, he began to study sign language. As time went on, he slowly understood more and more of her quick, often unnoticed movement. She did it in normal conversations, he realized, but only ever so subtly. Watching her became a habit, because although she looked like an open book, her hands said some strange things.
"Ducky, do you have samples for me yet?" She had just walked into autopsy. Not a pleasant one, in this case, very extensive burns, but not all over.
Although her face said nothing, her hand subtly signed "eww".
A few weeks later Ducky was up in the squad room as everyone was leaving.
"Tony, will you drive me home? Only if you don't mind." said Ziva.
"Sure, no probs, I don't mind" he replied.
"Clearly" said Abby's right hand.
Ducky was sure she was saying more, but he had trouble picking up exactly what it was. She glanced at him then at the ground, then there was a hint of a sign that could have been "drive" or "car", then "home", then some sort of symbol of frustration or maybe disappointment. He was fascinated by the idea of seeing what she had to say to or about him. Perhaps she was picking on his car, he wasn't sure. He suspected she might have been expression her annoyance that Tony never drove her home.
The next week Abby was down in autopsy, Ducky had been watching her hands closely. When Mr Palmer had stuttered and fumbled in front of her, she spoken casually and ignored it, but her hand said "aww puppy". He couldn't help chuckling.
When he began discussing results with her, she seemed just very slightly nervous, which made her hands easier to read, but not when he was standing right beside her. He stepped away so he could subtly watch her hands, and was surprised to catch "come back". He was temped to do so, but didn't. In the rest of the conversation he caught "not fair", and "scent". Abby was becoming more baffling with time.
A few days later, everyone was out for drinks after work, it was Ziva's birthday and, much to her annoyance, they'd decided a small celebration was in order. Ducky picked up several little signs from Abby as the night went on.
As Tony and Ziva flirted drunkenly he saw "jealous". As she silently watched the scene from a corner couch he saw "tasty" and "want", although never while she was actually looking at someone, always while she looked down with a tense, frustrated expression. She often seemed to be watching him, just subtly, he thought maybe she was onto him and decided to be more careful. She also signed "puppy" when Jimmy spoke and "idiot", in response to something Tony said, but he could only speculate on the object of her frustrations.
Still thinking on the subject, he walked up to the bar to order and as he did, Abby was just walking past she glanced at him and smiled, in a slightly slightly flirtatious sort of way, a classic Abby sort of way, her tense hands saying "please".
He paused and frowned in thought as she walked past, back in the direction of the team. Then in a flash of realization, he turned, grabbed her arm, spun her toward him and, ignoring her shocked expression, kissed her.
The rest of the team didn't yell, wolf whistle, cat call, anything. Not even Tony. They just sat there, staring, mouths open, as Abby resurfaced from the shock, melted into the embrace and kissed back hungrily. Suddenly she pulled away and stared at him.
"How did you know?"
"I've been been learning ASL"
"But... I haven't signed in front of you."
"In fact, you have." He smiled knowingly.
Abby was pretty accepting of the situation, she could grill him later. Now they had fun to have and a team to shock.
Author's Chapter Notes:
While working on his psychology degree, Ducky begins to study his coworkers. Abby's subconscious signing captures his attention, it turns out she says a lot more than she realizes.