"Okay, so I'm the princess," Amala said, "walking" her Barbie up the side of the tower of the play castle.
The Barbie was tragically pale and blonde in Amala's warm brown hands, but it was the only human doll they'd found in the toy bin.
"So I stay up here in the tower and the prince has to come rescue me."
"I'm a prince?"
"Yeah, to rescue the princess."
Nanneyo looked down at the dubina doll in her chunky blue-scaled hands. She was halfway through tugging a sparkly pink dress onto it. Then she looked back up at her friend.
"But I wanna be a princess."
Amala blinked at Nanneyo. "No, someone has to rescue the princess," she said again. "I'm the princess."
"Can I be the princess?"
"I hafta be the princess 'cause I'm a girl."
"I'm a girl too!"
"You're both. You're part boy so you have to be the prince."
"Princes are lame! Princesses are pretty and wear sparkly dresses and I wanna be pretty."
"Who's gonna rescue the princess?"
"Another princess? Oh, I know!" Nanneyo bounced in place, suddenly smiling. "Let's do a tea party! Two princesses are up in the tower and they have a tea party."
Amala perked up at the suggestion, forgetting their argument in the span of a second. "Yeah! Tea party!" She turned back to the toy bin and started digging around in it again.
"We hafta find some teacups."
Nanneyo trotted over to the other end of the toy bin and plunged her hands in. "And a teapot! To put the tea in."
But over the clatter of the toys in the bin, Nanneyo heard a faint, familiar voice from behind her. She stood and turned around, and sure enough, there stood her sire in the doorway.
It was time to go.
"So how did your day go, sweetie?" Dai asked.
"Fun!" Nanneyo chirped. "Amala's nice. We were gonna play princesses but then it got late."
Dai chuckled as ze opened the passenger door of the parked craft. "You and Amala can be royal children tomorrow."
Nanneyo leapt up into the seat. "No, we're princesses."
"Not royal children? That's more accurate, yes?"
"Princesses are prettier."
Dai had climbed into the driver's seat by now, but instead of starting the ignition, ze looked at hir child in puzzlement. "Can't a royal child be pretty, no matter who ze is?"
"No, princesses are best." She grinned as she said it.
Dai was quiet for a moment. Then ze finally turned the key in the ignition and revved the craft to life. "If you're sure," ze said.
"Um, are you sure you should be spending so much time with Amala?"
Nanneyo pouted. "Amala's my friend. She needs a friend."
"I'm not sure I like the influence *she's* having on you." Dai spoke the feminine pronoun as if it were poisonous in hir mouth. "I'm not sure I like any human getting that close to you."