LAST EDITED ON Feb-20-16 AT 03:57 PM (EST)
As it happens, today is my birthday AND we managed to get NXE 5:1 into pretty decent shape, so while we take principal photography into the edit bay for some post, I thought I'd give you folks a nice little present.
"XCOM loves its codenames," said another voice from the doorway. "Maya had to threaten to resign both our reserve commissions to stop them from calling us ABBOT and COSTELLO."
Asuka blinked, then broke into a grin at the sight of the speaker. "Truss!" she cried, delighted.
She and DJ had to wait for John Trussell, formerly head of NERV's Special Technical Services division, to put the boxed pizzas he carried down on the coffee table, but after that it was time for the hugging and the manly backslapping.
"It's so good to see you again," said Asuka, taking her turn. Then, sobering slightly, she added, "I only wish it were under better circumstances."
"Agreed, on both points, believe me," Truss said.
"They pulled you away from JPL for this thing?" asked DJ as she turned Truss loose. "I guess they are taking it seriously. But where's Maya?" he wondered.
"Still in Pasadena, wrapping a few things up at Tech," Truss replied. "She should be here tomorrow. In the meantime..."
"In the meantime, dig in," said Misato, hiking herself forward in the couch with great effort so she could reach the pizza. "We've got one more coming, but she should be here any minute—"
"I'm here," said another familiar voice from the doorway, and DJ and Asuka turned to see Rei Ellison standing there, casually but stylishly dressed in a summery white sundress and tennis shoes, with a book bag over her shoulder and a blue-dapple dachshund on a leash.
Like Jon, she looked tired, her already normally pale face a bit drawn. She was also, the Langley-Crofts were mildly alarmed to see, injured; her right arm was bandaged from wrist to elbow and suspended in a sling, her left knee bound up in an Ace bandage. Still, the pleasure in her scarlet eyes at the sight of her friends was real, and illuminated her from within despite her obvious fatigue. She released the dog's lead, letting him dart across the room to gambol at DJ's feet, while she made her way toward them at a somewhat more deliberate pace.
"'Allo, Newbie," said DJ heartily, crouching to give the dachshund a scruffle. "Remember me, eh? What've you been letting Rei get mixed up in, then?"
"Don't blame Anubis," Rei chided him with a little smile as she limped toward him. "He didn't go with me to the lab that day... luckily."
Reaching him, she let the bag slide off her shoulder and to the floor with a shrug, then gathered him without further preliminaries into a hug with her good arm. He returned it gingerly at first, mindful of her injured one, which was trapped between them by the sling; but she wasn't having any of that and drew him in tight, hanging on in silence for nearly a minute.
"All right?" he asked quietly when she finally released him.
"Recharged," she replied with the same little smile, then turned to give a similar treatment to Asuka, who had stood by watching with a look of fond indulgence.
"Right, then," said Misato when they'd all finished. "Eat up and get comfortable. What you're about to see shouldn't be taken in on an empty stomach."