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"What the--?" Duo blinked and started to paw through his scattered notes, muttering to himself. When he didn't find whatever he was after immediately, he grabbed his kanji dictionary and started flipping pages.
Over in the corner chair, Wufei lowered his book a fraction and peered at the braided pilot over it. Duo had started learning Japanese -- insisting that he was only doing it so he could tell when Heero was swearing at him -- and his nightly homework sessions were punctuated by frustrated growls and complaints that only detail-obsessed loons would put up with a writing system that forced you to learn 2,000 characters just to read a damn newspaper. (The first time he'd said that, Wufei had told him he should be glad he wasn't learning Chinese; Duo had glared pointedly at him and replied, "Like I said. Detail-obsessed loons.") This time, he sounded more puzzled than frustrated, though...
Flattening the dictionary open on the table, Duo ran one finger down the page. Stopping at one particular kanji, he read the listed meanings, nodded to himself, then started flipping pages again. Wufei watched curiously as he stopped at another page, found whatever he was looking for, read the meanings...
...blinked, shook his head, and read them again...
...and started snickering.
"Duo, what are you doing?"
No answer. Duo kept snickering.
"Duo!" Wufei snapped. "What's the matter with you?!"
"Nothing," Duo sputtered. "I'm fine. In fact, I'm p-p-perfectly daijoubu!" Then he howled with laughter, and abruptly disappeared under the table as he fell off his chair.
"I can see that I'm not going to get a sensible answer out of you any time soon," Wufei muttered, setting his book aside. Leaning over the table, he picked up Duo's dictionary and scanned down the page. "I don't see anything here to get hysterical about," he said dryly, peering under the table. "What's so funny?"
"Daijoubu," Duo giggled, wheezing slightly as he tried to get his breath back.
"I can see that you're fine -- physically, anyway. I want to know why you're laughing."
"Daijoubu!" Duo insisted. "The word is what's funny!"
"It's written with three kanji. D'you know what they mean?"
"I can speak and read Japanese fluently, Duo," Wufei pointed out. "And even if I couldn't, kanji are just borrowed Chinese characters."
"But have you ever thought about what those kanji mean?" Duo persisted. "On their own?"
Wufei thought about it.
"Maxwell," he said sternly, trying to repress a smirk, "you have the filthiest mind--"
"It's not me!" Duo yelled, starting to laugh again. "I didn't make it up! It's right there in the dictionary! Those ancient Japanese guys made up the word, blame them!"
Attracted by the noise, Quatre and Trowa arrived to find Duo rolling around under the table, laughing like a maniac, and Wufei snickering helplessly.
"Um... what's going on?" Quatre asked tentatively.
"Don't start that again!" Wufei begged, kicking out at him and missing. "Duo's just discovered another possible meaning for 'daijoubu', that's all."
"Really?" Quatre frowned. "Isn't it Japanese for 'all right' or 'fine'?"
Duo sniggered. "Yeah, I'd be fine if I had a--"
"Shut UP!" The kick connected this time, not hard, and Wufei picked up the kanji dictionary as Duo squirmed away, still giggling. "Yes, it means 'all right', but if you take the characters individually..." He flicked quickly through the pages, pointing them out to Quatre and Trowa. "Dai. Jou. Bu."
Trowa raised an eyebrow and smirked; Quatre blushed bright red and suddenly had to clear his throat. "Ah. I, er, see."
"Given Maxwell's sense of humour, it was inevitable that he'd notice," Wufei said, a little sourly. "I shudder to think what else he'll find -- and inflict on the rest of us -- as his studies progress."
"Hey, if it's good enough to make Quatre blush, why waste it?" Duo chortled. "I wonder if Heero'll blush, or just go 'hn' and stalk off?"
"If you're going to inflict it on Heero, wait until the rest of us are well out of the way!" Wufei insisted, mildly alarmed.
"Inflict what on me?" Heero asked flatly, standing in the doorway.
"Hey Heero!" Duo blurted out, ignoring Quatre frantically shaking his head. "Know what the other meaning of 'daijoubu' is?"
"'Big length husband'," the Japanese pilot replied, without turning a hair.
Everybody stared at him.
"Ah... right. You, ah, already know...?" Duo got out eventually.
"Of course," Heero said calmly, turning away. "I had a five-year-old's sense of humour once. Of course, unlike some people, I was five at the time..."
"OI!" The dictionary and papers went flying as Duo charged after him.
From Hadamitzky and Spahn's Kanji Dictionary:
DAI: big, large, great. JOU: a unit of length, about 3m. BU (actually FU, but the pronunciation changes when it's used in compounds): husband, man.
They have other meanings and pronunciations too, but they're not nearly as funny.
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