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Coming Clean

by griffiane


Taffin trudged dejectedly home from Neoschool, his sister, Alyai, trotting jauntily beside him. The Eyrie sighed, his emerald-green feathers drooping.

      "I can't believe that I failed that math test," he lamented. "Griff's going to be so mad at me when she finds out."

      Griffiane, Griff for short, was the owner of the two Neopets. She was fair, but very strict, and expected the best of her pets. She certainly didn't want them to fail their math tests. Alyai placed a sympathetic paw on her brother's back.

      "Don't worry Taffin," she said comfortingly. "It'll be okay. Griff will understand; you did your best, after all." The fire Wocky shifted her heavy backpack. The teachers at their Neoschool assigned so much homework! Taffin scuffed the ground bitterly with his large paw.

      "It's not fair. The teachers all have their little favorites, and I'm not one of them." The Eyrie turned to his sister. "You know who they like? That annoying Kacheek, Emmerson. He's always pulling top marks in our class." Alyai frowned.

      "Emmerson's nice, Taffin." She glared at her brother. "And he pulls top marks because he spends his time studying, not playing dumb games like you."

      Taffin cringed under the Wocky's accusations. He ruffled his wings, staring guiltily at the ground. "Yeah, well excuse me for believing that there's more to life than Neoschool and textbooks." The Eyrie grinned suddenly, a mischievous glimmer in his eyes. "Hey, I bet that I could beat you to the park!" he challenged. Alyai bit her lip.

      "Oh, I don't think that we should go today, Taff. It rained last night and the park will be so muddy... Griffiane would be really upset if we tracked dirt into the NeoHome just after she finished cleaning it," she said uncertainly. Taffin laughed, giving his beak a joyful clack.

      "Come on Alyai! It'll be fun; we won't stay too long. We'll just race there and then go straight home. Griff will never know," he goaded temptingly. Alyai remained undecided on the matter for a few more moments before sighing and throwing up her paws.

      "Oh, alright," she said with a slight smile. "But we can't stay too long, okay?"

      Taffin jumped around happily. "Yeah! Come on, let's race! Bet I win!" The Eyrie took to the skies, soaring a few feet above the ground and waving tauntingly at his earthbound sister.

      "See you there, sis!" he cackled as he shot off towards the park. Alyai shook her head, chuckling as she began trotting swiftly after her airborne brother.

      They reached the park a few minutes later, Taffin crashing spectacularly into the topmost branches of a large pine tree and Alyai in padding gracefully.

      "Come on down, Taffin!" she called from the bottom of the tree.

      Taffin tumbled down the trunk to land beside the fire Wocky in a jumble of green feathers. The Eyrie grinned sheepishly.

      "Heh, I guess I still have to work on my landings, huh?" he asked jokingly. Alyai snorted.

      "That goes without saying." She glanced around the park, noting with a bit of satisfaction that she had been right about the state of the grass. The field was covered with mud, dotted occasionally by huge dark puddles filled with murky brown water. The Wocky raised an eyebrow, glancing back at her brother.

      "Satisfied, Taffin? Let's go home now, okay? You can give me a ride."

      Taffin frowned. "Already? We just got here." The Eyrie looked over the huge expanse of mud. "Whoa..." he breathed. "Look at all that! I bet that it'd be really fun to go jumping in those puddles, huh Alyai?"

      Alyai shook her head furiously. "Oh no. We are NOT going to go play in that field. Do you have any idea what our owner will do to us if we arrive at home caked with dirt?"

      Taffin scoffed. "So what? It'd be so much fun! Remember when we were younger? We used to go play in the mud all the time. We'd jump in puddles, and roll around, and I'd try flying and end up landing beak-first in the gunk. It was great!" He tugged cajolingly at the Wocky's thick, bushy tail.

      "You're always so worried about your fur, Alyai. Let loose for once!"

      The Wocky haughtily pulled her tail from Taffin's grasp, brushing it down with an irritated expression on her face. "That fire paint job cost Griffiane a lot of Neopoints, and I don't want to spoil it by jumping in the mud. And furthermore-- TAFFIN! GET BACK HERE RIGHT NOW!"

      But it was too late. With a joyful squawk, Taffin had launched himself into the muddy field, rolling and tumbling in the gunk like a Peophin in the ocean. Alyai frenziedly paced the edges of the mud puddle, her tail twitching in agitation. What could she do? She certainly couldn't go in after him, she'd get all dirty! The Wocky scowled.

      "Taffin, come back! Griff's going to kill you!" she yelled. Taffin glanced up, a wicked grin on his face. The Eyrie reared up and grabbed his sister by the paws, pulling her into the mud with him.

      "TAFFIN!" Alyai screeched as her luxurious, fire coat became slathered with muck. "Taffin, I swear, I am going to make you pay for this!" She bent down and gathered up a ball of mud in her flame-licked paws, taking aim and flinging it at her brother.

      The mudball hit Taffin in the side of his forest green wing with a loud splat! The Eyrie squawked and whirled back to his sister, clutching his wing in the spot where the mudball had struck.

      "You're dead!" he laughed, scooping together a large clump of mud. He pulled his arm back and threw it at Alyai, the muddy missile hitting her in the neck ruff. The Wocky screeched with laughter as the two of them engaged in an all out mud war, flinging the foul-smelling goop at each other with gusto until the sun began to dip into the west. Alyai paused suddenly, letting her half-completed mud ball drop to the ground.

      "Oh no!" she exclaimed. "It's almost sunset! What are you we going to do, Griff was expecting us home an hour ago!" the Wocky said frantically. Taffin scratched his ears nervously.

      "I don't know, we don't have enough time to wash off the mud!" he replied, running his claws through his dirt clogged mane. Alyai whimpered, shaking herself furiously in a vain attempt to dislodge some of the dirt that had gotten stuck in her fur.

      "It's drying, Tafffin!" she cried. "Think of something!"

      Taffin whipped his tail from side to side, a sure sign that he was concentrating very hard. Finally, he rose his feathered head and snapped his fingers in delight. "I've got it!" he chirped. Alyai leaned in excitedly.

      "What?" she asked eagerly. Taffin grinned as he began to outline his plan.

      "Okay, here's what we do. Griff can't get mad at us for being muddy if it's not our fault that we got that way," he said. Alyai was confused.

      "But it WAS our fault, Taff," she pressed. Taffin lowered his voice.

      "But Griff doesn't know that! Okay, listen. You know that big Grarrl that lives a few houses down from us? The shadowed one? We can just say that he pushed us into the mud. Nobody would question our story; Grarrls have a reputation for being nasty."

      Alyai hung her head. "But that's lying, Taffin. In fact, it's even worse than lying. It's lying to get someone else in trouble. That Grarrl didn't do anything and he could get into a lot of trouble if we say that he pushed us into the mud."

      Taffin rubbed his temples. "But WE'LL get into a lot of trouble if Griff finds out that we went playing in the mud," he insisted. Alyai shook her head.

      "I don't care, I don't want to get an innocent Grarrl in trouble."

      Taffin growled. "I don't want to get into trouble. Griff might ground us, and I wanted to go see the M*YNCI concert tomorrow night." The Eyrie quirked a brow. "And what about you, Alyai? Didn't you want to go to that school dance? You won't be able to if we're grounded, and I'm certain that that's what Griffiane will do when she finds out what we did."

      Alyai looked like she was about to cry. She had been looking forward to the dance all year, but she also didn't want to get her neighbor in trouble. Finally, desire beat out morals.

      "Alright, fine," she said quietly. "We'll carry out your plan. But YOU do the talking, I don't think that I could."

      Taffin grinned. "Great! Okay sis, hop on my back, I'll take you up on that ride now."

      Alyai climbed despondently onto her brother's back, settling herself just above the wing joint. She felt the powerful appendages begin to beat as the Eyrie rose into the air, soaring towards their NeoHome.


      "And so we were just walking home from Neoschool and then he came by and pushed us into the mud! And we didn't even do anything!"

      Alyai's inside squirmed as she listened to her brother tell an outright lie to their owner. He was disturbingly good at it, too. Griffiane seemed to completely buy it. She nodded with understanding and gave her Eyrie's head feathers an affectionate ruffle.

      "That's okay, sweetie. I'll send the Grarrl's owner a Neomail right now; he should be alerted of his pet's misbehaviour." Their owner turned and Taffin gave Alyai a thumbs up sign behind her back. Alyai looked away. Griffiane finished writing the message and sent it off with Taffin's Crokabek. She turned back to her pets.

      "Okay, I've told the Grarrl's owner about everything, and don't you worry, I'm sure that he'll be punished for what he did." Alyai felt a sharp stab of guilt.

      "Now come on you two, let's get you two cleaned up and then I'll make you a special treat for dinner."

      Alyai walked sadly after her owner and brother up to the bathroom. She felt horrible. The Grarrl's owner was probably reading the Neomail right at that moment. He'd be furious, no doubt. What owner wouldn't be? The Wocky felt another stab of guilt at the thought. She hoped that the Grarrl wouldn't be punished too badly.

      The next day, Alyai woke to the sounds of heavy sobbing coming from somewhere outside her NeoHome. The Wocky yawned and stumbled sleepily to her window, squinting against the harsh sunlight. What she saw made her insides churn.

      Trudging forlornly up and down the streets was the shadowed Grarrl. He was crying, his shoulders heaving and yellow eyes shining with unshed tears. Alyai moaned at the sight of the wailing Grarrl. Doing her best to conceal herself behind her curtains, Alyai called out the the distressed Neopet.

      "What's wrong?" she asked. The Grarrl glanced up, his lip quivering.

      "My-- My owner isn't letting me get any presents for my birthday!" he cried. "He had bought me this awesome Petpet, a Gallion, but he won't let me have it because he says that I pushed some pet into the mud! And I didn't!" He continued to howl, tears streaming down his glossy black scales. Alyai whimpered. She couldn't take it anymore.

      The Wocky leapt nimbly from her window and dashed into Taffin's room, shaking the slumbering Eyrie awake.

      "Taffin!" she hissed. "Wake up!"

      The Eyrie's eyes snapped upon, rheumy with sleep. "What is it?" he asked groggily. Alyai grabbed him by the paw.

      "Come on, I've got to show you something," she said, pulling him over to her room. The two pets approached the window.

      "Look!" she ordered, pushing Taffin against the glass. The Eyrie's eyes widened.

      "Is that the Grarrl?" he asked fretfully. Alyai nodded.

      "Yes, it is. And look at him! It's his birthday and his owner won't let him have any of his presents because we accused him of pushing us into the mud!"

      Taffin lowered his head. "I feel terrible," he muttered. "It's all my fault! I shouldn't have made up that story about him, it was a horrible idea." The Eyrie glanced at Alyai.

      "Can we make it right again, Alyai?" he asked desperately. "Can we go and tell Griff the truth?" Alyai smiled, patting her brother on the back.

      "I knew you'd come around, Taff. Come on, let's go and face the music."

      Taffin and Alyai told their owner the truth as soon as she woke up. She was really angry, and grounded both of them for two weeks, but allowed them to see the concert and go to the dance because they admitted to her what they did. Griffiane quickly sent the Grarrl's owner a letter explaining what happened, and he instantly removed his Neopet's punishment and gave him his birthday presents. Taffin and Alyai apologized to the Grarrl, too, and though he still hasn't quite forgiven them, he's willing to let bygones be bygones.

      And from that day on, Taffin and Alyai always remembered the importance of coming clean!

The End

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