Title: A Taste of Rootleaf Stew Timeframe: 42 BBY (Obi-Wan is 15) Summary: Yoda teaches Obi-Wan a lesson about respecting the differences between species, and that lesson turns into a prank for Qui-Gon's 50th birthday. Notes: This is a fic-gift for earlybird-obi-wan. The request was for a story in Before with a prank, some weird food, and a celebration, involving Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Yoda, without anyone dying. This plot popped into my head as soon as I saw the request, and cooked on the back burner for a full month (mainly due to procrastination ) before I started writing. I'm still not satisfied with this, but I am such a perfectionist that I could tweak this thing until pigs fly and never be satisfied with it, so here it is. Disclaimer: All characters belong to Disney. Many thanks to George Lucas for the sandbox that is the Star Wars universe. * * * * * Note 12/15/2015: Era prefix changed to "Before the Saga", reflecting that this story does not depend on any Legends material. * * * * * Obi-Wan looked at the screen to see what was next. Two plates of baked fish slices in dru'un sauce and two large muja juices was the order. He placed two plates in front of him and opened the container of fish slices, only to realize that it was nearly empty. “Master, I only have enough for one fish slice plate!” he called to the front counter. While waiting for a response, he grabbed two large glasses and started filling them with muja juice as he considered for what seeming like the tenth time that hour why he was stuck on kitchen duty. Master Windu had reprimanded him for a comment he had made near an alien Knight—he didn't even recognize the species—that had offended the other Jedi. Obi-Wan couldn't see what he had done wrong; he had only made what he thought to be a polite comment about the alien's jewelry, and didn't understand why the other Jedi was so offended that he didn't like the necklace. Pushing that to the back of his mind for a moment, he sat the now-full glasses on the tray beside him and looked back up to the screen. One of the fish slice plates had been voided and replaced with an order of three barbecue sliders. The young Padawan quickly assembled the two orders, put them on the tray, and sent it out to the front on the conveyor belt. The next order perplexed Obi-Wan: rootleaf stew. He didn't even know what that was or how to make it, so he called over one of the Knights working near him. “Oh, that's Master Yoda's favorite,” she said. The Twi'lek walked Obi-Wan through the steps for preparing it, which were more involved that he expected. Ten minutes later, it was done, and Obi-Wan glanced at the chrono on the wall to see that his shift was over. He decided to take the stew out to Yoda himself. Obi-Wan found the wizened Grand Master sitting at a table by himself. He sat the bowl of rootleaf stew down in front of Yoda and watched as Yoda took a bite. The fifteen-year-old human couldn't even understand how it was edible, yet Yoda seemed to be enjoying it. “Learn a lesson today, did you?” Yoda asked between bites. The young apprentice decided to be honest. “Actually, Master, no I didn't. I still don't understand what I did wrong in the first place.” Yoda put his spoon down and looked Obi-Wan in the eye. “Part of his species' religion, the necklace is. Considered very beautiful to the Droatans, such a piece is. On their planet, blasphemy it is to say otherwise. Death, the penalty is on Droata.” Yoda poked Obi-Wan in the leg with his gimer stick for emphasis with each of those last two points. “But we're not on Droata. Shouldn't he have to get used to the fact that other beings may not think the same?” “Matters not, that does,” Yoda said in a stern voice. “Disgusted by my food, you are, I can see. Different to what you did, how?” The question hung in the air for a moment before Obi-Wan realized that the Grand Master wanted him to answer. The problem was that he didn't know how to answer. “Um, because... um...” Yoda saved him from having to keep searching for an answer. “Different it is not,” he said. “To my species, delicious this is, yet express otherwise, you do. As a Jedi, respect all living things, you should. Even when different, their customs are.” Suddenly Obi-Wan realized, and more importantly, understood, what he had done wrong. “So I should respect the fact that the necklace is beautiful to the Droatans, even if I privately think otherwise?” “Correct, you are. Understand now what you did wrong, do you?” “Yes, Master. I will apologize to him.” Yoda picked up his spoon, scooped up some rootleaf stew, and held it out toward Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan looked at it for a moment, quickly losing his appetite, but decided to try it anyway out of respect. It tasted incredibly bitter and spicy, and he was barely able to swallow it. He carefully considered how to respond, knowing that this was a test to see if he had learned his lesson. “I don't think I'll be ordering that anytime soon, but if you like it, that's fine with me.” The Grand Master chuckled, and Obi-Wan let out a silent breath, realizing he had passed the test. “Tomorrow, your Master's birthday, it is,” Yoda said. “His fiftieth. And I think you just gave me an idea.” * * * * * The next day “This better be for a good reason, Obi-Wan,” Qui-Gon said as his Padawan led him blindfolded through the corridors of the Temple. “It is,” came the voice of Obi-Wan from his left. Qui-Gon allowed himself to be led into what he sensed was a large room, perhaps the dining hall. Obi-Wan confirmed that guess as he helped his Master take a seat. “Alright, Master, I have prepared a special concoction for you,” Obi-Wan said. Qui-Gon heard the thunk of a dish being placed on the table in front of him. His Padawan continued. “This stew is commonly served on my home planet on a person's fiftieth birthday. It is said to promote a long life, but you have to eat everything in the bowl.” Qui-Gon had never heard of this custom, but decided to go with it out of respect. He felt an eating utensil be placed in his right hand, and dipped it into the bowl and took a bite. Immediately, he gagged. Force, this stuff is terrible, he thought. But he said nothing, instead slowly choking it down a little at a time. He heard a few giggles from around the dining room, but ignored them for the moment, resolving to finish the bowl. His second bite was even worse, and it was all he could do to swallow. As he continued taking one bite after another, he was aware of the giggling intensifying around him, including the unmistakable voice of Master Yoda beside him. Finally, he decided he couldn't take it any longer. “Obi-Wan, what exactly is this stuff?” His apprentice simply laughed, and then he felt hands working behind his head. A moment later, the blindfold fell away, and Qui-Gon found himself staring at a half-eaten bowl of Yoda's rootleaf stew as the assembled Jedi, including Yoda, broke into uproarious laughter. Qui-Gon gritted his teeth and took a deep breath. “Obi-Wan, you are not going to get away with this,” he muttered. The laughter was loud enough that Obi-Wan didn't appear to hear him, or maybe he just didn't care. At that moment, the kitchen doors opened and a staff member brought out a large cake with fifty candles on it. As the cake was put down in front of Qui-Gon, he relaxed a little as one Knight started singing, and everyone else quickly joined in: Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday dear Qui-Gon! Happy Birthday to you! With Obi-Wan having moved across from him, Qui-Gon took a deep breath, and blew on the candles hard, needing four breaths to blow all of them out. When he was done, he realized that he had also blown a small, loose piece of icing up onto his Padawan's face, and a light came on in his head. As he began to cut the cake, he allowed himself to smile slightly, even needing to stifle a chuckle; he now had a plan for payback.