Nov 23, 2017 7:58 AM
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native Fëanorian Amentans
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His hair is green. 

 

His mother was green, and in lots of places he would follow her, but Anitam is not one of those places; castes are patrilineal. He is a blue with hair inconveniently reminiscent of his dead mother, that's all. He will grow up and be a politician or a diplomat or an ambassador, like his father, like his father's second wife. His mother did embroidery, stunningly beautiful tapestries and fabric concepts and artwork that hangs in the state buildings and museums. But he's not green, and he can't follow her.

He runs away from home, of course. He would probably have done that anyway; looking back on it it feels a bit overdetermined. The hair would have been enough. Entis, his father's second wife, would have been enough. His siblings - two of them, blue in hair and ambitions and manner and talents - would have been enough. His hair is green. He runs away from home and shows up at a university in Anitam's third-largest city and sits in on classes, front row, asking questions and taking notes and turning in effortlessly brilliant problem sets.

In the third week he tells a professor, biting his lip, that he's not technically enrolled - family couldn't come up with tuition this year, and said maybe next, but he didn't want to wait - and the professor ruffles his hair (green!) and says that it's a delight to grade his work, he can keep sitting in and if he does well he'll talk with the administration at semester's end.

He excels in all five classes he sat in on. They find a scholarship. He vaguely mentions his mother's family.

He graduates with honors and co-authorship of four papers and offers from eight higher degree programs. He accepts one and publishes machine learning papers at a pace that has his advisors gently asking if he's going to burn out and he's green green green and he lives off microwave dinners and praise and envy and he marries the co-author of one of his papers about fluid dynamics and eventually someone pieces together his parentage and asks -

"Are you," he says, "suggesting that someone wrote my papers for me?"

            " - I - what - no - I was at your thesis defense, no one else could possibly have -"

"Right. So then are you suggesting that the person who achieved those things wasn't even green?"

           "There's no need to be confrontational. I was just - it's matrilineal lots of other places."

"Yes, it is."

And he's green green green. 

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His hair is green. 

It shouldn't be; this is obvious to him from a very young age. If he had a personality more suited to resentment he might resent his father for the impetuous gamble that now throws his own birthright into question. He has a personality not at all suited to resentment; he adores everyone, and he charms everyone, and he sees right through everyone, and he can tell that his father could not have breathed another day as a blue.

He can tell also that it pains his father when he charms his grandfather and then through his grandfather his uncle and when he wiggles his way into living with them, but he needs the connections. If only his hair had come out his grandfather's blue then he could live with green parents. But it's green and so for every other cue he needs people to see blue. 

He starts dyeing it. Not blue, that'd be provocative and worse than that embarrassingly childish, the conduct of someone too immature to merit his standing in its own right. Details matter and he knows how these details matter. He dyes it teal. He does it in stages, each transition so gradual that no one notices until they're looking at old family pictures. He photoshops all the old family pictures. His grandfather says affectionately that, uh, he is after all blue by law, isn't he, it wouldn't do for Afen's children to waver back and forth but as long as they pick one and live up to it -

He picks blue, blue, blue. Anitam has a ruling council of five governors and Aitim and his boyfriend and a classmate he's closely cultivating will be a voting majority someday and he changes the shade of teal just a bit, nothing that you couldn't attribute in old photographs to lighting - there's nothing objectionable about dyeing your hair if it's wrong but it's better for it to feel destined - Kan's hair is a deep blue of its own accord, and he wears it long, shimmery and distinctive. Nothing about Aitim's presentation is effortless like that but it looks more effortless than a genuine lack of effort could ever accomplish. 

 

His mother raises an eyebrow worriedly when she sees him and he beams at her and he's blue, blue, blue.

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He's green. It's as natural as breathing. He's green and his MyStream channel has millions of viewers by the time he's two and a half and he fears briefly that puberty will wreck his voice and it does no such thing and his top single sells half a billion copies. His younger brother's four and his parents are unhappy with their empty nest, but even three child credits stretch the budget of tenured professors who also find their salary being drawn on by the lab they run, whenever new equipment's needed. 

 

He gifts them half his proceeds. It's an outlandish amount of money. "Have more children," he says, and they look at each other and giggle, because of course he was thoughtful enough to release the songs towards the end of winter, and give the present at the beginning of springtime.

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He's miserable. 

It's fine for Aitim to notice he was born into the wrong caste and maneuver his way to where he belongs, because firstly Aitim knew how to do that kind of thing and secondly he wanted something he sort of had a claim to. Telkam wants to be grey, when he's little, and when he's older he wants to release a bioengineered plague and wipe out ninety-nine percent of everyone and then build a casteless utopia in the ashes. 

This seems like an unhealthy thing to want so he doesn't mention it. 

He's an actor. He does his own stunts. The movies can be post-apocalyptic, that's trendy right now anyway, it doesn't imply endorsement. 

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This one has an order of postapocalyptic martial artists. Since he won't take a stunt double this guy, hair a steely fuzz over his skull, is supposed to give him lessons. (Also they will be having three fight scenes together.)

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That sounds fantastic. 

 

"Wish I was grey," he says after a sparring session. "My brother when he's not conserving his political capital for fights over train stations likes to say that maybe there could be purchasable credits and a process to change, for people who're just obviously misplaced. But it'll never catch on."

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"You're getting paid four times what I am. For making facial expressions. Not that I wouldn't pay money to stare at your face, because damn, but still."

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You have all the guns, he nearly says. You could just get fed up and change it. 

He does not say that. 

"So probably if there were a way to buy yourself out there'd be lots of purples and oranges and greys vying to be green and not much the other way round, yeah. I'd still go for it."

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"You'd be good at it. I can still kick your ass though." Smirk.

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"I noticed. 's just the extra practice."

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"Surrrre it is. You could beat my cousin, she just plays ball, barely knows the forms..."

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Snort. "I don't want to beat your cousin. I want to win fights that aren't scripted, but - picking an easy opponent's still scripting -"

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"I think greens're allowed to have hobbies, you don't all have to be singleminded nerds. I do a mixed caste class when I'm not doing choreographed shit like this."

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"I might show up. Did archery once. It was very very satisfying. Parents stopped paying for it because I was failing all my classes."

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"Green school sounds like the most stultifying thing of all time. Paint all morning and do math all afternoon and never get enough sun to not look like a sheet of paper."

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"You got it. - well, lotsa literature too. If we don't have an opinion about all of the major authors of the last five centuries how will we make faces at the camera."

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His martial arts tutor laughs. "Are you drawing on the, the fucking, what's the word, are you drawing on the canon in the part where you tell me you're gonna kill me in revenge for your mother?"

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"There are all these great works in which people say that! If I hadn't written six-paragraph essays on them all how could my revenge be a meaningful reinterpretation and commentary and - I know objectively boring classes aren't the end of the world it's that - I hate things and people that pretend to matter when they don't."

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"Well, this is the kinda movie where people show up and they say 'yeah forget about the facial expressions did you see that sick backflip', so if you did terribly in school it's okay, nobody cares, just do the sick backflip and stop dragging your heels when you're gonna hit me with a stick."

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"Gotcha."

 

They spar. He gets better about not dragging his heels. "Plans tonight?"

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"Hot springs. Why, you wanna come ogle me?"

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"I might."

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"You wanna meet me there or keep your wig on, take my bus?"

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" - that. I don't think people'd recognize me."

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"Do you even have prior credits in anything that got more play than Moon Invaders III, nah, you're fine. Slip it off in the locker room."

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"MechaBlasters but I was a robot the whole time. Makel's the one people recognize on the street. I'll do that.'

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