I once saw a picture on the website deviantART that showed Ahsoka Tano and Barriss Offee sitting in a booth at Dex's Diner enjoying what looked like a couple of milkshakes together. That was my inspiration for this story, that and the fact that I really like Dex's Diner from Attack of the Clones. I wanted to write a casual one-shot friendship story about Ahsoka and Barriss enjoying themselves (and a quiet lunch) in a quaint location during their downtime, though there will be occasional times when they talk about more serious stuff, too. Hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Wars: The Clone Wars or its characters, George Lucas and Dave Filoni do.
A Girl's Day Out at Dex's
What a way to spend a day off from her duties as a Padawan in a galactic war! Ahsoka Tano was about to have a nice lunch at a diner Masters Obi-Wan and Anakin had highly recommended to her, in Coruscant's CoCo Town district, Dex's Diner. Obi-Wan had said it was a great place to relax and unwind, and that the owner, chief cook and bottle washer, Dexter Jettster, was one of his best friends outside the Jedi Order since before she was born, a gruff but good-hearted Besalisk who once led a shady lifestyle, but made a fresh start with his diner. And even better yet, her best friend Barriss Offee also had the day off and had accepted Ahsoka's invitation to join her for lunch! Enjoying a greasy spoon for a change instead of the more "health-conscious" food of the Jedi Temple was fantastic enough, but enjoying it with her best friend, that was even better! And now, having just exited a Coruscant taxi, whose Bothan driver had been a little nervous about dropping off two Jedi girls in a slightly disrespectful neighborhood, they were about to enter the diner.
"Wow, Barriss," said Ahsoka, "have you heard how great the food and the company is supposed to be here?"
"I have heard that the food is oily and unhealthy, but also cheap and filling," said Barriss, "but nevertheless, the company is very warm and friendly. I recall Anakin once said that the best thing about Dex's Diner is that after you've been there a few times, everybody there knows your name."
"Hey, I can deal with oily and unhealthy," Ahsoka said with a grin. "It's not like we're going to eat here all the time, and anyway, don't you prefer something delicious after so much of the Jedi Temple's boring plain food? I mean, you can't seriously enjoy eating mostly flavorless soup and fish sticks every day."
"No, I don't," Barriss chuckled. "After all, Master Luminara seems to want to eat nothing but flavorless soup and fish sticks, and she expects me to eat much of the same, saying that it's very becoming of a Mirialan Jedi."
"Wow!" Ahsoka said again, laughing, "I didn't know you could show displeasure to anything your master wants you to do."
"Just because I fully respect Master Luminara and do what she tells me doesn't mean I like all of it," responded Barriss. "I fought like mad to convince her to take the day off with you to come here."
They both laughed. Then, "Here goes nothing," Ahsoka said with anticipation, and they stepped in.
Inside were the usual crowd of Dugs, Aleenas, Nuknogs, and other assorted aliens and humans. The diner had the smell of fresh food in the air. Barriss and Ahsoka saw that there was at least one empty booth near the door.
"Little Ahsoka Tano and Barriss Offee!" a deep voice called from the kitchen window. They turned and saw Dexter Jettster himself in there looking at them.
"Hi!" said Ahsoka. "You must be Dex Jettster! Glad to meet you!"
"Hello, Dex," said Barriss.
"Take a seat in that empty booth over there, and me and one of the waitresses will be with you shortly," said Dex cheerfully.
"Okay, Dex," they said, and took a seat in the booth they had spotted near the door.
"These seats are amazingly comfortable for ones made out of some kind of plastic," Ahsoka commented. "I could sit here for hours."
"I don't know about hours myself, but I can certainly sit comfortably in them long enough for a whole meal," said Barriss.
A WA-7 droid rolled up to their table on one metal wheel, like on a unicycle.
"Hello, and welcome to Dex's Diner," it greeted them in a female voice. "I am FLO, your waitress today. Would you each like a cup of Jawa juice, or maybe something a little softer?"
"No thank you," said Ahsoka, "I'm a Jedi minor, I can't drink alcohol; how about a blue milkshake, please?"
"And I'll have some Almakian apple juice," said Barriss.
"Coming right up, ladies," FLO said, and wheeled away to the kitchen window.
"Did you hear that? She called us ladies," Ahsoka said, her eyes shining. "Somebody finally thinks and says that we're growing girls!"
"I heard it," Barriss smiled. "I think it's nice, too, that we are maturing into good Jedi women; I could use the respect."
"Speaking of respect, have you noticed how since the Clone Wars began, many people in the Republic have been looking down on us Jedi the same way the Separatists and many senators do?" said Ahsoka, changing the subject. "I've been wondering why. I thought the Jedi were the good guys."
"Me, too," Barriss said. "The HoloNet newscasters, and sometimes, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine himself, often talk about a mistaken belief that the Jedi started this war, and that we may be pushing for more power, and that's strange because Masters Luminara, Qui-Gon, and Yoda always told me that the Jedi must do what's in the galaxy's best interests, not our own."
"Yeah," said Ahsoka. "Personally, it makes me wonder where the HoloNet is getting this information; I mean, it's not like those lazy reporters can go anywhere they want in this galaxy."
"Well, I've heard the Chancellor is at least partially responsible for what the HoloNet says, but I'm not sure he has any motives for doing this or not, though some members of the council are starting to get suspicious that Palpatine wants to become a tyrant," said Barriss. "But let's not worry about it now, Ahsoka; it's a beautiful day on Coruscant, we have at least one day off from the duties of an ugly war, and we're about to have the best meal a couple of feminine chums can ask for."
"You're right, Barriss," Ahsoka responded. "It's too nice a day to worry about the quagmire of war. And I love that, "feminine chums"! Good one! Look, here come our drinks."
FLO wheeled up to their table again. "Here's your blue milkshake, young lady," she said to Ahsoka. "And here's your apple juice," she said to Barriss. "Dex is coming to take your order in a minute." She handed them each a menu and rolled away.
"Hey, look at this," Ahsoka said excitedly, "look at all these names for their sliders; the famous Coruscant slider; the Zeltros slider; the Socorro slider. You know, I may have the Sulfurous Moon slider!" she joked.
Barriss laughed out loud. "Yes, that slider has made many customers complain, it should be removed from the menu. Well, Luminara only likes soup when she comes here, rarely, and she only likes Nyork chowder and Creamed Rishi corn soup; no one can ever convince her to try anything original."
"That sounds just like Luminara Unduli," Ahsoka laughed in turn.
Just then Dex lumbered over to their table.
"Hey there, young Barriss," he said, saluting the Mirialan Jedi.
"Good day to you Dex," Barriss greeted him back.
"Hey, little Togruta," he chuckled, "so you're young Anakin's impetuous apprentice he's talked so much about. Come here and give old Dex a hug!"
"Okay," said Ahsoka, getting up, and almost got lost in Dex's big four-armed bear hug.
"For one so little, you're certainly bigger than I expected," said Dex.
"Yeah, I, I guess so," Ahsoka said slightly awkwardly, sitting down again.
"Now then," said Dex, pulling out a small datapad, business-like again, "what would you like to have today?"
Barriss noticed that Ahsoka hadn't quite decided. "I'll order first," she said. "I'll have an Interstellar garden salad to start with, a Nuna sausage patty for main course, and some Trammistan chocolate ice cream for dessert."
"Okay, great choices," said Dex, "and how about you, honey?"
Ahsoka looked up and said, "Uh, I'll have some Aurebesh soup to start with, a Shaak and cheese sandwich with some protato wedges for my main course, and uh, a Cerean cone of chocolate ice cream for dessert."
"Thank you very much, girls, It'll be ready in a few minutes," Dex said, typing it all in the datapad and walking back to the kitchen.
"You really enjoy eating your vegetables," Ahsoka commented. "Only people who look after their health and have a hint of a vegetarian in them could bear to eat so much salad."
"So, you know about my partiality to the Jedi Temple's salads," said Barriss with a twinkle in her eye. "Master Luminara is not fussy about my eating them. On the contrary, she fully approves of it, saying that a healthy vegetable salad is just as good for a Mirialan's health and well-being as a good bowl of soup."
Dex returned with Barriss' salad and Ahsoka's soup.
"They're already ready?" said a surprised Ahsoka.
"Yeah," said Dex. "It takes me only a couple minutes to whip up some soup and a salad for two customers' first course."
"Well, thanks," Ahsoka responded. "I'm amazed."
"Yes, thank you Dex," Barriss said.
As the Besalisk cook returned to the kitchen to prepare their main course, Barriss dug into her salad, and Ahsoka chowed down on her soup.
"You know Barriss," Ahsoka said, "this may sound like superstition to you, and maybe it is, but as a littler girl, I used to think that eating plenty of Aurebesh soup would make me more intelligent, you know, more learned in written language; that's why I like to continue eating it nowadays, because looking at the letters in the soup reminds me of how to read Aurebesh. That, and also out of old habit too, I think," she finished with a laugh.
"Well, it's certainly worked," Barriss laughed back. "You really are good at reading; say, Ahsoka, can you read that neon sign just outside the window beside us, even though it looks backwards?"
"Yeah," said Ahsoka, "it's the diner's logo, it reads Dex's Diner; of course I can read something like that, Barriss!" she said with mock indignation. "I'm not that dumb!"
Barriss laughed yet again. She certainly was not her usual cold self today. "Speaking of food, you know when you were talking before about my vegetables?" she said. "Well, I've noticed that you in contrast really eat a lot of meat."
"Well, I have to, don't I?" Ahsoka said almost proudly. "I'm a Togruta, and Togruta are meat eaters, like Pau'ans, only Pau'ans prefer their meat raw, while Togruta can eat cooked meat."
"Yes, that's true," said Barriss, "but for someone who eats a lot of it, I'm surprised you're so easily able to stay fit, like me."
"Well, that's because I exercise, of course," said Ahsoka. "All Jedi are required to keep in good shape. We can't afford to go around looking like Senators Orn Free Taa or Ask Aak, it would be bad for our image, no less than for our actions."
"Oh yes, I forgot," said Barriss, "I'm sorry. I was thinking about myself and other Mirialans for a moment and forgot that most other sentient species can and will exercise, too. We Jedi are often accused of being so arrogant, and I don't want to truly be guilty of that same crime."
"Me neither," said Ahsoka. "Although I'm pretty sure that I've kept my pride under control; I hope I'm not mistaken."
They ate the rest of their salad and soup in silence, simply enjoying each other's company, and as they both finished, Dex returned to their table with their main course.
"Here you go," Dex said as he laid out his pride and joy on the table. "One Nuna sausage patty for the Mirialan, and one Shaak and cheese sandwich with protato wedges for the Togruta."
"Thank you, Dex" they both said. He smiled in satisfaction and returned to the kitchen again.
"These protato wedges are the most delicious kind of protatoes I've ever tasted," said Ahsoka as she started eating. "Much better than those mashed and baked protatoes the Jedi Temple kitchen serves. I've heard that some people call them fries."
"Or chips," remarked Barriss. "You know, they're not healthy for you, or for most other carbon-based sentient life-forms, either. Their tastiness is a trick to fatten people up and make them susceptible to heart disease and other illnesses."
"I know," said Ahsoka, "but they're so tasty, and I can use a yummy meal every once in a while. So relax, Barriss. I'm not going to get fat or heart disease. A Jedi can't get such illnesses, at least not from eating certain foods."
"Yes, yes, Ahsoka," Barriss submitted. "It's just that I'm a healer, and even at my age, I have experience on diseases and how different species can catch them and be affected by them."
"I know, Barriss," said Ahsoka in mock exasperation, "but why don't you save your medical experience for those who really need it, like the troops and other people who get hurt in this war?"
"Of course, ma'am," said Barriss good-naturedly.
As they got into their meal, Barriss commented on how her Nuna sausage was nice and tender, and how her apple juice complimented it with its own good flavor. Ahsoka, in turn, said her Shaak and cheese sandwich and milkshake were as delicious as her protato fries, and that meat and protatoes went together like Jedi and lightsabers.
"I never heard that one before," Barriss chuckled. Ahsoka laughed, too.
"It was a shame what happened on Umbara a week ago," Barriss said more soberly a moment later. "I thought Master Pong Krell was very trustworthy. He was certainly one of our most devastating fighters with his two double-bladed lightsabers and his expertise in Form VII, Juyo."
"Yeah, I wish I'd been down on the surface to show him a thing or two, or at least that Master Skywalker had been there," Ahsoka said. "To think that he would consider clones to be nothing more than nameless, near-robotic cannon fodder whose deaths didn't need to be mourned and lived and died at his will! That sounds more like, well… the attitude of the ancient Sith Empire toward its faceless Sith troopers."
"I agree," Barriss said. "I just hope that Master Krell hasn't done any lasting damage to the Jedi Order. Masters Sora Bulq and poor Depa Billaba have already tainted the Order's image with their respective treachery and insanity, or "sanity", as Master Billaba put it to Master Windu. If Krell's actions also make us look bad, the Jedi Order could really be in danger of being accused of ultimate treachery in the Chancellor's eyes, and those of the public and the Senate."
"Well, I just hope that Rex and the other poor clone troopers haven't gained any hard feelings against us Jedi. If the clones ever turn against us, they could easily overwhelm us with their sheer numbers, and besides, I want Rex and I to remain friends to the end," said Ahsoka.
"Well, let's not forget that today's a day to enjoy ourselves, not to worry about the future, the past, or even the present," said Barriss. "I heard you did splendid when you were stranded on Wasskah by Trandoshan hunters. I was very happy to see you rescued a couple of lost younglings, O-Mer and Jinx, and a Wookiee named Chewbacca. Did you know that Chewbacca has been a friend of the Jedi and the Republic for many years?"
"No, I hadn't heard that," remarked Ahsoka, "but it certainly makes sense, because of how much he respected me and the younglings."
"A couple decades ago, before I was born, Master Qui-Gon Jinn met him and taught him much about how to fight and to take care of himself during turbulent times," said Barriss, "and went on to say that he would become a great warrior. And based on what you told me, I have no doubt that Qui-Gon was right."
"Yeah, he was magnificent, tossing and bashing those Trandoshan bullies," said Ahsoka, relishing the memory, "and when Sugi arrived with more Wookiees to back us up, they were amazing, too, especially Chewbacca's huge cousin, Tarfful."
"I'm just sorry that the other youngling, Kalifa, couldn't make it," Barriss said sadly. "She had been out there for so long, and just when it seemed that at last she could be free, a Trandoshan hypocrite who just lost his son takes it away from her forever."
"That did break my heart, yes," Ahsoka said with her own sadness, "but at least she finally showed a desire to act like a real Jedi again shortly after I came there."
"I wish I had been there," Barriss said. "I might have been able to heal her wound, or at least slow down its effects, even if it was mortal. But, it's probably all right for her now, because she's probably found peace within the Force. But enough about that, now. How about your adventures on Dac shortly afterwards?"
"Dac?" Ahsoka inquired.
"Yes, that's what the Mon Calamari and the Quarren name their home planet in their own native languages."
"Oh, you mean the planet Mon Calamari," Ahsoka said.
"Yes," said Barriss. "What was it like, diving underwater in one of the galaxy's most beautiful ocean worlds, even if it was in the middle of the Clone Wars?"
"Most of the time, it was dark," Ahsoka admitted. "By the time I got there with Master Fisto and Republic reinforcements, the Quarrens' "squid-ink" had polluted much of the water we were battling in. I didn't get to see much of the natural beauty or the interior of the underwater city until after we won. Plus, we spent a lot of time in the depths of the Mon Calamari ocean in order to hide from Riff Tamson and his aqua droids."
"I have only heard rumors of what Tamson and the Karkarodons were like, and Jedi do not add to gossip," said Barriss. "What was it like, having to fight them? I already know what it's like to fight aqua droids, I fought them alongside Master Luminara on a mission to Glee Anselm two weeks after the Second Battle of Geonosis."
"Believe me, Karkarodons are nothing to mess with," said Ahsoka as she took a big bite of her more-than-half-finished sandwich. "Ordinary sharks look almost tame compared to them. Because they're sentient, they can think and reason, while regular shark fish only have instincts to rely on. Prince Lee-Char was scared of Tamson for quite some time, but Captain Ackbar and I helped convince him to be courageous in the face of Tamson's forces and that he didn't always have to wield a sword to be powerful. You should have seen the way he finally finished that sharkey, with one of his own explosive daggers and an underwater blaster!"
"That must have been a sight," said Barriss, grimacing slightly as she ate her fourth-to-last bite of her sausage.
"Oh, don't worry, it wasn't that disgusting," said Ahsoka, "in fact, there was very little visible blood at all, not that could be recognized as such, anyway."
"I hope so," said Barriss with her own mock indignation.
They finished their meals a few minutes later, and Ahsoka called out to Dex that they were ready for their dessert.
"Coming right up, ladies," called Dex. In a minute, he came to the table once more and offered them their desserts. "One Trammistan chocolate ice cream for the lovely young Mirialan girl, and one Cerean cone of the same ice cream for the cute little Togruta girl."
"Thanks again, Dex," they said gratefully. He then gathered up their dirty dishes with his four hands and walked back to the kitchen, though not before saying, "Enjoy. When you're finished and ready to leave, come up to the front counter to pay for your meal first."
"We will," they said.
"Boy, I'm glad he's not like Krell," said Ahsoka. "They're both Besalisks, and Besalisks all think and act with four arms and hands. Krell used his hands to swing two giant, double-bladed lightsabers, and was a traitor to us; Dex, on the other hand, uses his hands to cook food, wash bottles and gather up dishes, and he's loyal to his friends."
"Yes, well, don't forget, no species the Jedi know of is composed entirely of good people or evil people," Barriss reminded her as she began eating her dish of ice cream.
"Oh, I already know that," Ahsoka said as she started to eat her ice cream cone, "remember, how I whispered to you about my secret, unofficial mission to Raxus with Senator Amidala where I met some good Separatists?"
"Yes I do," replied Barriss, "and though it was illegal to do so, not to mention not ordained by the Council or your master, I for one am proud of you for doing it, Ahsoka. Even I didn't think there could be good Separatists once, what with the Confederacy being controlled by a Sith Lord and greedy merchants, but you and Senator Amidala showed me that there are good politicians and citizens in it, and that the Separatist Congress may not be as corrupt as the Galactic Senate. I hope a day comes when more people in the Republic see the shades of gray in this war, and it's a disappointment that your master is so anti-Confederacy that he will not see the truth. By the way, what is your newfound friend Lux Bonteri like? Is he idealistic? Is he trusting of you? Do you trust him?"
"Well… initially our relationship was a little tense, because I detested all Seps back then, after my experiences with people like Grievous, Ventress and Nute Gunray, and he told me that he didn't altogether trust Jedi, because his friends were saying we're to blame for all this killing, which doesn't surprise me because I've heard about the passionate hatred of Seps like Spar and the late Alto Stratus," Ahsoka began. "But then, we kind of gave each other a once-over look, and we started to perceive that we can be friends. I don't know yet what happened to him after his mother was killed, but I hope he's all right."
"As do I," Barriss said sympathetically.
As they continued to eat, Ahsoka asked Barriss, "We've talked all about me the whole time we've been here, how about you, Barriss? Have you been doing anything extraordinary lately, or is a mission coming up that you think will be pivotal to the war effort, or you personally, or what?"
"Actually, I believe something is coming up," said Barriss. "For months now, there's been a savage battle taking place on the jungle world of Drongar, and many, many clone troopers and other soldiers have been sorely hurt or killed. The Republic doctors and nurses there are up to their elbows in bodies and blood, and the Council has been making plans to send a Jedi Healer there to supplement their efforts. I originally thought Master Stass Allie was going to be chosen, but I got elected somehow instead. I'm also being sent there because it's suspected that there's at least one thief on the planet who's trying to steal bota, a miracle drug indigenous only to Drongar that the Republic and Confederacy have been fighting over, and I have to find and stop him, or them."
"It sounds pretty boring to me," Ahsoka said. "I'm glad I'm not being sent on that mission, especially since my healing skills are sub-par, to say the least."
"It isn't the battle that bothers me, I won't be leading troops on this one, nor the grim reality of the interior of a rimsoo hospital," Barriss said. "I've dealt with things like that before. It's the fact that the planet is supposed to be so hot. The temperatures are always soaring, even at night it's hot, and the humidity is always over 90 percent. I prefer cooler worlds, perhaps because of my being a Mirialan, from a cold, dry planet, even though I wasn't born there. I also love the snow; a walk in the snow is much more invigorating for me than one in broiling sunshine."
"Really?" Ahsoka replied. "I can't stand the freezing cold! And while snow is attractive, rain is much better in my opinion; rain, and warm worlds, dry or humid, it doesn't matter."
"Well then, maybe we should make a compromise with the Council. I go to a world where it's cold and snowy, and my healing powers are in need, and you go to a world where it's nice and warm, and your fighting skills are most welcome," said Barriss with a dry sense of humor.
"Yeah, let's do that!" said Ahsoka, cracking up.
They both laughed at that.
About two minutes later, Barriss finished cleaning her bowl, and Ahsoka crunched on the last bite of her cone. "What do you say?" said Barriss. "Shall we get going now?"
"We might as well," said Ahsoka. "These comfortable seats are not quite as comfortable as I had at first thought, and anyway, I smell like grease and melted ice cream. I need to wash up."
"All right," Barriss replied. "You use the refresher, and I'll go pay for our meal."
"Good luck," Ahsoka smiled. "You said this place serves cheap food."
"Yes, and in more ways than one," Barriss smiled back.
While Ahsoka walked to the 'fresher, Barriss went up to the counter and called for Dex.
"Did you enjoy your meal?" he asked pleasantly.
Barriss smiled. "Yes we did," she said. "Ahsoka's washing up."
"Good, that's great," Dex drawled. "Well, your total cost is 28.5 Republic credits, my lady."
Barriss took out her money purse and paid the appropriate amount of money to the Besalisk cook.
"Thanks, thanks very much," Dex said, counting the credits. "Have a good day now! Come again when you get the chance."
"We will," Barriss promised, as Ahsoka walked out of the 'fresher, clean and fresh. Together, they left the building.
"Well, wasn't that a splendid way to spent our early afternoon," said Barriss, "even if we did waste some time talking about negative things as well as positive ones."
"It sure was, Barriss," Ahsoka grinned. I'd do it again in a heartbeat, but not today, I'm too stuffed."
"Listen, that reminds me, said Barriss conspiratorially, "remember when you and I were talking about getting some exercise earlier, staying fit?"
"Yeah, I remember that," said Ahsoka.
"Well, there's a great place called Oa Park, several clicks to the west of here. It's filled with natural beauty you don't normally see on Coruscant. My master and I sometimes go there for stretching exercises and private lessons in the Force. Why don't we spend the rest of the afternoon there, getting some exercise away from all the noise and the fitness center in the Temple?"
"That sounds like a great way to end the day," said Ahsoka. "I'm in."
"Good, then let's find another taxi and get going."
"Oh Barriss, there's one more thing," asked Ahsoka. "Do you think the madness of the galactic Bounty Hunters' Guild can ever be stopped, too? We have enough problems with this crazy war without bounty hunters always butting in and messing things up even more."
"I don't know," replied her best friend. "Maybe soon, maybe in several decades, maybe never; but the Force only allows us to live for so long, then we must return to it. It isn't any individual Jedi's part to weather all the storms of the galaxy for all history. So don't worry about it. If we can't solve today's problems, then tomorrow someone else after us might."
"Thanks, Barriss," said Ahsoka. "I really appreciate that advice."
"So, shall we go and see what Oa Park holds in store for us?"
"I'm game. After you."
A/N: I got all the food items in Dex's Diner and the approximate cost for them from a Hyperspace Fan Club article called "Dining at Dex's." Actually, I've never read the article itself, because I've never been a member of hyperspace, and anyway the article has been rendered obsolete now. I got the information from a Wookieepedia article about "Dining at Dex's" which lists, among many other things, all the food and beverages that were on the Hyperspace menu article. Oa Park is a natural park located somewhere on Coruscant near Galactic City; I read about it in Medstar I: Battle Surgeons.