wind in hair
Dinah Lance blondecanary
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The beach, Friday afternoon
Trying to meditate in her room was getting Dinah nowhere; the feeling of being cooped up and trapped just didn't allow it to work. So after a run through town and down the beach, she found a spot on the sand and sat down, closing her eyes, and taking a deep, deep breath.

This is me. This is not-me. The beginning of the exercises Ghanima had suggested; working on shoring up her own core of self, and separating out the parts that weren't her, the memories from all the people she'd touched. Dinah-body-mind-self-Mana. Spirit-mind-thoughts-Alaya. Dinah's self as a laurel tree, with roots going out to all her outer senses, branches stretching up to her own imagination; the sharp, echoing memories of other people's lives, perceived through other people's senses, as a cultured labyrinth of foliage around the tree, not touching her center-self. Ocean-sound outside, smell of the sea, feel of the sand: Dinah. Memories of other thoughts and dreams (Arthur Romeo Lacey Raven Claire Leto and on and on): Not-Dinah.

Outside. Inside. Breathe in. Breath out. Balance.

[for one particular person]

For a while now, ever since the break between summer workshop sessions, Gabrielle had had a nagging feeling that she was missing something. It was never a particularly strong sensation, and there were no gaps in her memory that she could tell, but there was always the vaguest, most maddeningly nebulous sense of something just out of reach that she was just . . . missing.

She didn't think about it most of the time; it didn't seem to be anything particularly important. Like whether the third fencepost from the left of the gate in front of her parents' house was a fingerspan higher or lower than the others -- not that, but something on that scale. Inconsequential but niggling.

A walk on the beach had seemed like a good way to clear her thoughts and get her focus away from that little thing that she was sure she was just imagining anyhow, and that was what led her down this stretch of sand today.

"Hello, Dinah," she started to chirp merrily when she spotted the other girl in profile. "How are -- oh, I'm sorry, am I interrupting something?"

Dinah took a couple deep breaths, slowly brought her focus back to completely outside her head, and squinched open one eye. "Hey, Gabrielle. I was practicing some meditation. Memory stuff." She blinked open the other. "No big, it's an ongoing process, you know?" Well, maybe Gabrielle didn't, but Dinah was so never going to get this perfect on her first couple tries.

"Memory stuff?" Gabrielle echoed curiously. "How does meditation help your memory? I get practice, of course. Practice always makes perfect, like they say," she added with a cheerful smile.

"It's supposed to help with my other memories, the ones that aren't mine-- did I ever tell you that?" Dinah asked, suddenly not sure. The telekinesis, definitely, they'd used it in Reserves training a lot, but she wasn't sure the telepathy ever came up. "I'm a touch-telepath. I can read peoples' minds if I touch them. Only sometimes it gets overwhelming."

"Read their minds? You can actually do that? I always wondered what it would be like, if people could actually do it, but I never realized it was possible before I came here," Gabrielle blurted out, her own concerns forgotten in a new rush of curiosity. "What's it like?"

"Kind of depends on the person? I usually see things from their point of view, so it's disorienting, and if they're thinking something really weird," hello, Lacey, "I can end up with a headache. Everything's sharper, but more distant," Dinah said, trying to describe concepts she didn't have words for. "I can get confused between me and them if I'm not careful. So, practice." She grinned at Gabrielle. "Sometimes it's cool. I got to dream one of Francine's dreams, once. Flying horses and ice cream."

Gabrielle followed along with that easily enough; the benefit of a bard's imagination meant that she didn't discount unfamiliar concepts right away even if logic didn't necessarily follow what she was used to.

"And sometimes," she guessed, following this new and not entirely unwelcome logic a little further down the path, "it can be really unpleasant, can't it?"

Dinah looked down, and her voice dropped. "Yeah, it can be." She grimaced. "Nothing too bad since I got here." Lie. But... "Okay, some stuff. But, I had even worse back home in New Gotham. And at least here, Professor Atreides can help me get better at keeping stuff out, or filtering it so it makes sense."

"Having a good teacher always helps." Gabrielle thought about all the times she'd touched Xena not dirty for once srsly, all the things Xena wouldn't talk about even after everything Gabrielle had seen traveling with her. "I can see why you would want to, depending on what you saw. And the meditation helps with that?"

Dinah nodded, some of her enthusiasm coming back. "Yeah. Part of it's just paying attention, and noticing all the differences between the memories and reality. Until it's a reflex, you know? Like, like being able to pick out instruments in a band. And part of it is being able to focus on what's going on outside my head, too, so I don't get lost."

Gabrielle couldn't pick out instruments in a band to save her life, so she just nodded like she could. "Xena says I do that sometimes," she offered. "Get so caught up on what's going on in my head that I don't notice what's really going on. I can't read people's minds, though. I just keep writing stories."

Dinah grinned at the mention of Xena again, and pulled her legs up to her chest. "Have you been back to see her again lately? Any new adventures of warlords and gods and incredible monsters?"

"Not in a few weeks." Gabrielle rubbed absently at the side of her neck, where the Bacchae bite mark had completely faded but she still occasionally thought she could feel it itching. "The last time . . . you probably don't want to know about it."

Dinah's smile faded, and she saw Gabrielle rub her neck. "Something bad happen?" she guessed, voice sober. "I'd be okay hearing about it. Unless it would bug you more to talk about it."

"No, I'm fine," Gabrielle assured her. "It wasn't anything too bad."

Those Bacchae girls had been . . . very friendly, after all.

She shook her head and explained, "I just don't want to talk about it after everything that happened here after I got back, when everyone was falling asleep. It might hit a little too close to home."

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