Comanche sat in the roundhouse between the two giant 4-4-0s. The K-28 simmered away and slowly was going cold. Her fire had been dropped and Leach was busy emptying the ash pan. What steam was left was slowly dissipating. They day was still young, only a few clouds floated over head and the sun shown brilliantly. Even while in the roundhouse the brass of the locomotives seemed to shine. Comanches crew was covered in a light coat of coal dust from the trip. One of the first things A.J. planed to do was to go to the bath house. After all, hed need to look his best for Rail Fest tomorrow! While Leach and Fiesta tended to what remained of the fire A.J. went to do a once over on his locomotive. He inspected the locomotive carefully and with his hammer thumped all the nuts, bolts, and fascinings. Taking care to listen carefully to any abnormalities or loose parts.
The Comanche too looked a bit worse for ware. Her Yellow paint was darkened by accumulated soot from her stack. Later the crew planed on cleaning her and polishing her up like Sunday! As the pride of the GFRRs locomotive fleet the Comanche had better look her best! Meanwhile back in town Aleu helped Sakura with her and A.J.s bags at the Hotel. Sakura talked to the desk clerk and got their room key. A.J. had made special arraignments so that it was JUST a hotel, not a Hotel/Saloon or anything of the sort. Also the location was away from any place of ill repute so it would be quiet at nigh, at least for A.J. and Sakura that is. Once Sakura had gotten the room key Aleu quickly picked up the heavy luggage and stormed up the stairs. Sakura paused a bit in surprise but then smiled, picked up what remained of the baggage and followed after Aleu.
Out side the White Wolf spied, peeking carefully through a window at the Hotel lobby. She was furious enough as it is, remembering how Aleu and A.J. interacted. But now Jewel watched as Aleu helped A.J.s so called Wife. Why? Jewel thought to herself. Or maybe there was more Jewel didnt know. Progressively every possible possibility and scenario went through her mind and Jewel shuddered at every one! In her way of thinking the only remedy would be to prove herself, to crush A.J. and his reputation at the event tomorrow. Once Aleu and Sakura were up the stairs and out of sight Jewel turned away and headed back to the Rail Yard.
Sakura, by chance, was able to get ahead of Aleu and guide her to the correct room. She opened the door and let Aleu enter first, Sakura followed closely behind.
Oh you can just set them by the bed Aleu. Sakura said. Aleu obliged while Sakura shut the door from behind. Then she turned and put Mirra on the bed first, then setting the last bag on the floor. Aleu, you really didnt need to do that. I could have waited for A.J.
Aleu chuckled. Really? You wouldnt have mind sitting around waiting for a Coal Dusted Feline to come and dirty everything up? Aleu said jokingly. Sakura smiled and nodded her head.
Actually, Ive gotten used to it. Sakura winked. But regardless, I do appreciate the help. Thank you. Aleu was very humble about the complement.
Aw, you dont need to thank me. You needed a bit of help and I gave it to you. After all you are the wife of one of my best Friends! Aleu smiled in reply. But then she glanced at the clock on the wall. Well, I would love to stay and help you get settled but Ive got to get back to the barn. TEXAS still needs a bit of touching up! Sakura smiled and said good bye, for the time being. Aleu also said her good byes to Mirra who giggled in response. Soon Aleu went through the door, down the stairs, and out the lobby. Sakura shook her head a bit but smiled. A.J., shell be the one to beat this year!
Jewel was looking forward to getting back to the roundhouse. She knew which stall TEXAS was in which made her happy. Aleu would easily be within viewing distance. She also looked forward to polishing the SMITH for tomorrow. The last thing she wanted to think about was that White Tiger who was talking with her earlier or his Obnoxious Looking Yellow Engine of his. But once she lifted her head to look at the engine stalls she paused. She looked at the open stalls and right between the TEXAS and the SMITH she could just see a black pilot and a Yellow Headlight. There was only one engine in all of Colorado like that, and it was the Comanche.
You have GOT to be kidding be!!! she said to herself aloud! Then she quickened her pace toward the building, though a bit in denial. But soon she discovered, to her dismay, that what she saw was no mirage. She hurried inside and clambered up into the cab. She climbed up the firemans side so she would be unseen. Light smoke gently lifted into the air from Comanches stack as she went cold. As Jewel stealthily peered out of the cab window she could see A.J. cleaning his engines side rods. For months they have been caked with dirt, dust, mud, soot, and oil. Only now the fine steel parts could be seen in their full glory. With his rag and a lot of elbow grease, A.J. wiped away all the messy grime of the High Iron. Later A.J. would thoroughly was down his entire locomotive; everything from the frame to the backhead, and even the brass trim on the gauges. Jewel watched as A.J. as he took great care of his iron steed. From A.J.s perspective it was almost humorous. Jewel trying to be stealthy when her perked snow white ears stood up like a beacon in the SMITHs cab window. A.J. never made a direct look at Jewel but still chuckled at her attempts.
Leach had finished dumping the fire and taking care of the ashes. He too now was helping in the prep work for the wash down. He made is was over to A.J. and quietly talked to the Tiger.
Hey, how long have ya know about that Jewel character lookin at us? Leach asked and then A.J. replied; Since she climbed into her cab.