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A few days go by and the buff rapper is still slightly depressed and overwhelmed by his feelings. He misses Marquise a great deal and is planning to head back to New York as soon as he possibly can to see him. It proves to be hard though because he and Banks have a date to go into the studio to try and finish up his album. This is when he plans to tell the younger rapper about the new addition to their group. Young Buck hasn't called him and he makes a memo on his phone to call his fellow G-Unit member later on in the day, before he goes into the studio tonight. 50 sleeps in as much as he can before getting up and getting dressed for the gym. A workout will give him mind a momentary break from the bombardment of his thoughts and he welcomes it. His son, Lloyd Banks and their relationship, Olivia and the new G-Unit, and numerous insignificant things all succeed in stealing his thoughts away and manage to control him. He does not know how much longer he can do this. His son crying on the phone that night breaks him.
50 Cent is in the car on the way to the studio to meet Banks when he fetches his cell phone from his pocket and looks for the appropriate number before dialing. "Just the man I wanted to talk too," he hears Young Buck say on the other end.
"David Brown. What's up with ya man?"
"Ay, ay. Chill with that homeboy. But what's this shit I hear about a female in our group?" By the sound of his voice, Buck does not seem happy.
"That's what I called to talk to you about."
"You a day late and a dolla short homie. Dré already wants to put her on a track on the album."
"Y'all hit the studio yet? What you think? How she sounding?"
"You going along with this?" Buck asks, a bit surprised and ignoring his friend's questions.
"Got no choice man. Maybe it's for the best you know?" he reasons with the other rapper.
"This is some fucked up shit. G-Unit is you, me and Banks. We don't need some female cramping our style."
"Come on. Don't be like that Buck. Let's give it a chance and see what happens."
"I'm not down for this shit. I like the group how it is. Me and my two boys."
"I know nigga. Trust me, I wasn't into this at first."
"Why you ain't hold yo ground?"
"It wasn't worth it. You know how the game's always changing."
"I know---" the upset rapper trails off.
"That's how I'm looking at it. From the business aspect D."
"I dunno man. You really think she's worth it?"
"Dré does. Em thinks she's got something too."
"What about you?" Young Buck gets back to his question.
"Dunno. Haven't heard her in the studio yet. How did it go nigga?"
"She was having a hard time."
"Getting her voice right and shit."
"She was nervous. With Dré and me there and everything being so new and all," he says the first positive thing about the newest member of the G-Unit group.
"Damn. I hope that's all it is. She already signed the contracts."
"Fo' real? What the hell was Dré thinking?"
"He said she sounded good on the radio."
"Fuck! I can't believe this shit."
"Please don't give me hard time about this man," 50 says. He doesn't want another fight on his hands.
"Naw. Forget me. I'm just trippin'. I trust you nigga. You my best friend and you know what's best for the group. Banks know?"
"He `bout to. I'm on the way to the studio to meet him."
"His album ain't done yet? Y'all niggas ain't on the ball."
"Yea. It should be done soon. Hopefully."
Young buck turns serious now. He senses something. "You aight Curtis? You sound a million miles away all of a sudden."
"I don't wanna dump shit on you man," the buff rapper honestly says.
"Fuck that. You know I got you. What's going on? Something with the label?"
"Naw. Everything's cool with work. It's just hard."
"Being away from Marquise."
"Oh. How's the lil' nigga?"
"He started crying the other day because he heard people talking shit about me on TV and he misses me and a whole bunch of other confusing shit. I fucking hate how I make him feel," 50 says, anger in his voice to an extent.
"That's rough man. He's a strong kid though. He'll be fine."
"If he's anything like his dad then no doubt."
"Don't let it get to you Curtis. You doing the best you can boy."
"I don't think its good enough."
"As long as he knows that you trying your hardest then fuck what other people say. It's all about him anyway and nobody else."
"I get ya," 50 replies.
"And I know he knows that you trying."
"Well? Don't let this shit get you."
"I know. Can't help it sometimes though you know? Have those moments."
"You gonna be fine boy. Ay listen, I gotta go nigga."
"Yea. I'm pulling up to the studio now."
"Listen, no matter what nigga you got a friend here. Always," Young Buck assures the other rapper.
"You care homie. I'm touched," 50 says as he laughs.
"Fuck you Curtis Jackson."
"Aight, I'm gonna let you call me out this one time because you listened to me bitch and complain. Don't make it a habit kid."
"Whatever you say. I'm out."
He gets out of the car and walks into the studio, already knowing the route he needs to take to get where he needs to be. 50 takes a quick moment in the elevator to collect his thoughts. He isn't used to spilling his guts to anyone so the feeling is new to him. It did feel good to talk to someone though. It helped him in more ways that one. Buck is right. He cannot let it get to him. He has to keep his eyes looking forward and looking into the future. It's all about his son and his career, the only positive things he has in his life. Hopefully he will find some down time after finishing up Lloyd Banks' album so he can go and be with his son. 50 Cent wants to and has to connect with his little boy again before it becomes too late and he cannot. He does not know how things are going to turn out with Banks tonight because neither still doesn't have a firm understanding of the night they spent together. There are still far too many unanswered questions and the buff rapper does not want to get into it tonight. He cannot handle everything all at once.
Lloyd Banks is sitting on a stool near a large window overlooking the streets below with a pen and his notebook in his hand as 50 Cent enters. He is unaware of the other man's presence as he looks out at the city and writes in the book, as if Los Angeles is giving him inspiration. As much as the older rapper hates to admit it, their relationship is not the same. He finds it hard to talk to his friend at times when that was never an issue before. Before they slept together. Before 50 went and ruined their relationship because he couldn't control his hormones and acted like a horny teenager. He regrets everything but mostly how he ruined a perfect friendship. How could he expect the younger rapper to forgive him when he was being so selfish and thinking only of himself? He stands in the doorway and stares at the man sitting across the room for he does not know how long. He cannot help himself. Something is there. It is unexplained but it is there. He wonders what Banks is thinking because he stops writing and stares outside. It hurts.
The words finally come out of his mouth. "What up boy?"
"About time you got here late ass nigga," Lloyd Banks responds as he turns around and gets up from the stool.
The two men meet in the middle of the room and hug each other. He smells so good. "Sorry. I had something to deal with?"
"I know. You Fifty Cent after all. When don't you got something to deal with?"
"You mad at me?"
"Naw. Don't got a reason to be."
"We gotta talk Chris."
"Yea? What's up?" the rapper asks as he drags the stool and sits next to his friend.
"Did you talk to Dré or Em or Buck?"
"Buck called me the other day to see what's up but that was about it. Haven't spoken to Dré and isn't Slim on vacation?"
"Okay. We had a meeting the other day."
"There's another member in G-Unit," 50 Cent comes right out and says.
"What? Who? When did this happen?"
"Dré discovered her---"
"Her? You bringing a female into G-Unit?"
"Management thinks its best. Says it'll give the group a new look and mass appeal."
"What's her name?"
"What the hell? How is a singer gonna make the group better?"
"She can pull in more people, especially the females that aren't groupies. This is what Dré thinks anyway."
Lloyd Banks thinks on this for a moment. "And what you think?"
"I'm not even gonna sit here and lie to you Chris---" 50 Cent starts off.
"Because you can't."
"I can't. Finally admitting it to you. I can't lie to you. You know me to damn well!"
"I know," Banks smiles. "Nice to hear the words though. So what you think?"
"I dunno. I'm trying to stay open you know? It's gonna happen weather I want it to or not."
"Why? G-Unit is your group."
"She already signed the contracts. And G-Unit isn't just my group anymore, it's our group, including her. I wouldn't do you or Buck like that."
"Yea. You think she's worth it?"
"This shit's gonna take some getting used too."
"Yea. She seems straight though."
"When we gonna meet?"
"Whenever you want man. Dré wants her to jump on your album. Buck's too. He took her to NY with him to see how she is in the studio."
"And?" The younger rapper's curiosity gets the best of him.
"Buck said she was nervous. But he saw something. It was her first time and shit. You know how that goes," 50 explains.
"Yea. Let's hope she knows what she's doing."
"That makes two of us."
Lloyd Banks wants to get off the topic of work and focus more on them. He still doesn't have any of the answers his body and heart are begging for. "How's everything else man?"
"I know things are still kinda weird between us Chris. Sorry I haven't called you lately. I just---"
"Dunno what to say?"
"Yea. But ay, can we talk about this later? I know you want answers. I want some too but we gotta get on this album before Dré has our asses."
"You right. No pressure though Curtis. That's the last thing I wanna do."
"You're not. I know how you feel."
The two rappers cease their intimate conversation and switch into business mode. 50 browses over the lyrics in his friend's book, making a couple minor adjustments so the flow isn't compromised before starting to work on some more beats. Banks starts reciting the words in his book to himself so he can memorize them. He also writes some more as the older rapper is busy creating music for him. He would find himself staring at his friend for no reason at all. His feelings are being confirmed to him in the moment but he does not want them to be. They cannot be because it is unacceptable. The confused rapper twists his neck to the side, to crack it, before throwing his work back on his mind. When 50 Cent tells him to get in the studio so they can start experimenting, he really puts everything away and becomes the person most only see. The Lloyd Banks he chooses to show to the world. The earphones goes over his head and cover his ears as he clears his throat and gets ready to spit his words.
Hours pass by like insignificant seconds in the studio as the pair of talented rappers continues to mix and match music and lyrics. Beats and words. The album is so close to completion that each man can literally taste it. 50 knows how much Banks wants it over with and out already and he himself can't wait until it's done because he is so excited about it. They decide to stay for as long as it takes to get it done because that is extra money they will have to use to rent the studio once again that could go into promoting the album. It is late and although it doesn't look it because of the bright lights, all of Los Angeles is fast asleep, unaware of their surroundings. 50 Cent jumps on yet another track at his friend's request because, despite what most say, he is a truly talented man. He does have a gift and Lloyd Banks sometimes finds himself in awe of the buff rapper. What he does not know, or possibly want to admit to himself, is if what he feels is genuine respect and admiration for the older rapper something far more. The G-Unit member struggles.
After spending so much time recording, Lloyd Banks' voice is finally starting to strain. "Cut it," he yells in a raspy tone over the music. "We gotta stop."
"What's going on?"
"I'm not sounding right. My voice is tired."
"We got two more songs to lace down. You sure you can't hold out?" 50 asks.
"Naw. If I keep going I'm gonna lose my voice."
"Aight. That's a wrap then. Go get something to drink man."
"Yea," Banks replies as he steps outside and finds a nearby vending machine. He gets a bottle of water for his throat.
The older rapper is a little disappointed but completely understands where his friend is coming from. He doesn't want to put something out there that he isn't proud of and 50 sees that. His momentary disappointment wavers. "You aight boy?" he asks as Banks steps back into the studio.
"Yea," he replies, clearing his throat. His voice does sound raw and vulnerable. "Sorry."
"Don't be crazy kid. We got enough done for today. We good."
"I guess. When we gonna get the rest in?"
"I dunno. I gotta see how things work out for the next few days. Don't even know if I'm gonna be in LA tomorrow."
"Thus is the life of a rap superstar," the young rapper says as he laughs a little.
"Yea. Some life huh?"
"Oh yea. Seeing the world. Making a grip on money. Have any and every bitch throwing their panties at you. Sounds like the good life to me."
Lloyd Banks wants to take back his words. He also wants 50 to start talking about them. "Let's get outta here."
"What you got going on tomorrow?"
"Not much. I knew it was gonna be a long night so I can relax tomorrow."
"It's three already?"
"Yea nigga. We been here all night."
"Shit. Let's get our asses outta here fo' real," 50 Cent says as he gets up and gathers up his things. His body is weak because he in hungry. "Let's grab something to eat."
"I'm down," he replies as he picks up his jacket. "You know any places open at 3AM nigga?" the G-Unit rapper asks sarcastically as he laughs.
"Fuck you! Come to the crib with me. We can get something to eat there."
"Come on. We gotta talk anyway."
"Thought you forgot about that," Banks admits honestly.
"Naw man. I wouldn't do you like that. I'm a man of my word."
"I see that."
"So we just gonna stand here or what?"
"Yea. Let's go."
Both men gather up the rest of their things before turning off the lights to the studio and walking out into the crisp night's air Los Angeles boasts tonight. Lloyd Banks does not know what is going to happen to him tonight and his nerves have complete control over his body. His stomach is tied in a giant knot as he tries his best to just relax and go with the flow. Not much is said on the ride to the hotel room. 50 Cent is busily trying to come up with things to say to help defend himself for that night. He is not gay. Thing just got out of hand. It was a mistake. Both rappers are lost in their own thoughts as they reach the hotel and ride the elevator up to the top floor. Once suite, the older rapper sits on his bed and takes his shoes off before reaching for the menu. They order and eat in near silence because it feels awkward. They are, again, in a room together and alone in the early hours of the morning. It couldn't possibly happen twice. 50 is going to make sure of that. He is not gay. He does not see other men that way. A mistake. Mistake.
"Damn! I needed that bad," the superstar rapper says after finishing his very late dinner.
"Oh yea. I'm full."
"Your voice sounding better."
"Just needed a break and some food I guess," Banks jokes.
"Nigga we could've bought you a bag of chips or some shit at the studio and continued working on the album."
"Chill Curtis man. Chill out. It'll get done. Don't worry."
"Aight, when Dré asks if it's finished just tell him that. We'll see how long you got a record deal."
"I hope she's good for the team," Banks ignores his friend's comments.
"Me too man. Too much is riding on it," 50 says. All his thoughts are lost to him.
"We'll see eventually. Think we can still squeeze her in my album?"
"Not at this stage. It's almost done now."
"Didn't Dré want her on mine too?"
50 Cent sighs as he gently rubs the bridge of his nose. He is tired. "Yea. But it's too late now. She'll just have to be on Buck's. And the G-Unit one but that's not happening anytime soon so."
"Admit it C. You need a break."
"No. I don't."
"You Dr. Phil now nigga?"
"Hell naw. You burning yourself out. I can see it."
"You need glasses then."
"I don't. Why's it so hard to say you need a break Curtis?"
"Okay! Damn! I need a break aight?" the buff rapper says stubbornly.
"Relax. I'm on your side."
"You badgering me! Fuck!"
"I'm sorry," Lloyd Banks says sincerely as he looks down to the floor. This was a mistake.
He sighs once more. "No. No. I'm sorry Chris. You right about me; like always. With Olivia and your album still not done and Buck's. It's a lot of pressure. And I miss Tré so much. I didn't mean to snap."
"Everything okay with Marquise?"
"No. He started crying when we were talking the other day. He misses me. He wants us to do stuff normal fathers and sons do."
"But you're not a normal guy," the G-Unit member tries to explain.
"How do you explain that to a six-year-old?"
"I dunno. He's smart. He knows you're doing all you can."
"It's just not good enough anymore. I can't even explain how it made me feel when he was crying on the phone. I hate this shit."
He looks the young rapper straight in his face. Into his eyes. "What you want me to tell you Chris? What do you want to hear from me?"
"You know what. It's why we came back here."
"It was a mistake. Right?"
Lloyd Banks hesitates. "Yea," he lies.
50 shoots him a look and lingers there. "You're lying."
"Naw," he tries to play it off. He is getting nervous.
"Chris, tell me the truth. We ain't gonna fix anything if you lying."
"Yes," he answers in a soft voice. "I wanted it to happen."
"Oh." The buff rapper is taken aback but holds his composure. "How did it feel?" his curiosity gets the best of him.
"I dunno. Weird."
"A lot. But it felt good after a while. Something I never felt before."
"I'm not gonna stop being yo boy. Just because---" he trails off. 50 Cent cannot bring himself to say it.
"You my best friend no matter what."
Banks looks at the man sitting next to him, "Thanks. It means a lot."
"I got you. So we cool now?"
"Something else bothering you."
"No," he says shortly. A lie once again.
"Uhuh," 50 says sarcastically but it is unintentional.
The older rapper stops himself. He is not going to persist. "Nothing man. Everything's cool."
The pair of rappers hug tightly and Lloyd Banks' insides feel a sense of relief. Relief that he has been wanting ever since he and his best friend slept together. A small part of him is still curled up in knots and he knows that 50 knows this but he cannot tell him how he feels. It's not right. They continue to talk, deciding it best that Banks stay the night because of the hour; he takes a moment before agreeing to the other rapper's advance. There is no harm in it. Everything is out in the open now and things between them are slowly but surely getting back to where they once were. Tonight should've happened a long time ago. The young rapper needs a shower and 50 Cent goes to find him a towel, along with some of his clothes. In the bedroom, he tosses him a black wifebeater, a pair of shorts, and a pair of white boxers. Once in the shower, he tries to accept the conversation and come to grip with his own feelings. He cannot have feelings for the man outside. Another man. His best friend. The shower tries its best to relax him.
The morning slowly makes itself known when the Sun's rays dart in through the massive windows and sliding glass door of the penthouse suite the two rappers are sharing. 50 Cent is the first to awake, opening his eyes and sitting up on the bed. He sees Banks next to him, completely knocked out. His eyes trace over every angle of the younger rapper's face. Every slick, sharp curve. Every minor detail. It puzzles him but he cannot stop looking. His lips are so full and look so soft. His face seems so smooth and looks as innocent as he sleeps. 50 wonders what it would be like. To kiss him. To have him kiss back. To taste those sensual lips on his own. He shakes his head and jumps off the bed, scared by his own thoughts. They only manage to obscure his mind. He continues to stare at him before getting a t-shirt on and walking into the bathroom. He cannot escape his images and thoughts though. The reflection he sees in the mirror is unknown to him. After staring for so long, he sees his son. His mind is playing games with him.
He grabs the phone from the nightstand and looks around for the charger because, as usual, it is dead. Once he finds it, he exits his room and enters the great room, finding an outlet to let his phone recover its health. In the kitchen, a few slices of homemade toast and eggs become his breakfast for the morning. He makes extra for Banks, whenever he decides to wake up. For not knowing how to cook, 50 has to admit that his breakfast does taste good. Sipping on a glass of orange juice, he relaxes himself on the sofa and turns on the TV. It is almost nine in Los Angeles as the buff rapper continues to drink his orange juice and flip through channels. Hardly anything is on so he just puts it on MTV and watches music videos. The conversation he and Lloyd Banks had last night went well as he replays it in his mind. He knows there is something else his friend isn't telling him and although he really wants to know what it is, he's not going to worry about it right now. Things are finally back on track between the pair. Relief at last.
Once his phone has enough energy to sustain a conversation, he uses it, lowering down the TV in the process. "Hello?" he hears Marquise's mother ask.
"Hi. It's me. How are you?"
"I'm doing fine. And you?" she says to her former lover, not sure of how to feel.
"I'm a little worried about Marquise."
"Because of the last time we spoke. I really miss him."
"Well that's not my fault."
"How is he? After we talked that night? Is he okay?" 50 Cent asks her in a concerned voice.
"He's fine. He's in school right now."
"Are you sure he's okay?"
"No," she snaps. "Of course our son is not okay. Do children cry when they're okay?"
"Why did you call Curtis?"
"Because I want to see how our son is."
"Why didn't you call later? When he's out from school so you can ask him yourself?"
"I didn't call to fight with you," he starts to lose his patience. "I'm just worried about him."
"Why now?" she asks her former boyfriend coldly.
"What do you mean? I've always worried about him. He's my son."
"Maybe these are things you should be saying to him. Not me. You're all of a sudden trying to play the concerned and perfect father. Why?"
"I've always been there for him and you."
"I don't need you to be there for me. I'm not your child."
"It'll never be good enough will it?"
"No. It's not good enough for my son. He deserves better and you know it. Not just a part time father who only has time for him when he isn't working on an album or halfway across the world."
50 Cent avoids screaming because Lloyd Banks is still sleeping in his room. He is angry and wishes he never made the call. "This is my job. I always try to make time for him. I don't see him when it's convenient. I try my best to see him every chance I get."
"It's not often enough. You haven't changed since I first met you. It's always been about you. It's always going to be about you. Curtis Jackson first and to hell with everyone else."
"I'm trying! What more do you want?" he says in an almost defeated voice. Everything she says about him is true and there is only so long he can deny it.
"Ask your son that question and see what he says. Not me."
He gives up. "You're right. Everything you said is true. Is that what you wanna hear?"
"You don't get it do you? I don't want or need to hear anything from you. Just for once in your life put someone else besides Curtis first," she says angrily. "Put our son first in your life. Not your career. Or your friends. Or those women I'm sure you sleep with every night. That's why I'm mad at you Curtis. Your son is nowhere near number one to you and you say how much you love him and think of him---"
"I do love him!" he responds loudly. "Don't ever question my love for my son. I love him more than life itself."
"Could've fooled me. I don't wanna do this anymore? It's always the same with you and I'm sick of it."
"If you got something to say then say it."
"Why bother? It's not going to change anything."
"You really don't believe in me do you?" he asks, slight insecurities flowing through every one of his veins.
"I don't know anymore. Look, call back when he gets home from school."
"If you say so."
"I do! Why didn't you go to work today?"
"Not that it matters to you---"
"It does matter," he interrupts her. "No matter what, I'll always care about you. You're my son's mother and I will always love you for giving him to me."
She processes those words in her mind. "My boss told me to take the day off because I've been working hard to get an account for the past few weeks."
"Did you get it?"
"Congratulations. That's great."
"I'm sorry about everything," the superstar rapper softly says.
"I am too. I have to go."
"Call him today."
"I am," he reassures. He definitely will.
"Think about what I said."
"I always do."
He clicks his phone and tosses it to the other side of the sofa. She has always known the exact things to say to get him upset. He looks up to see Banks walking out of the room in his clothes. "Yo sleepyhead. I woke you up?"
"Naw," he says sarcastically. "All that yelling and screaming only helped me sleep more."
"Fuck you aight."
Lloyd Banks slouches down on the loveseat next to the sofa and looks at his friend. "Marquises' mom?"
"Who else would I be fighting with this early in the morning?"
"I got a list. You ain't an easy man to get along with."
"Don't forget whose clothes you're wearing nigga."
"Whatever. You got an extra toothbrush?"
"Look in the medicine cabinet. I think I saw one there."
"I made you some breakfast."
"Eggs and toast."
Lloyd Banks does not know what to say for a while. His insides go haywire. "Aww. You cooking breakfast for me nigga. I'm so touched," he tries to be slick.
"See how it tastes first. You know I ain't no cook."
"I'm so hungry that I'll eat anything. Even your cooking."
"You see? A nigga tryin' to do something nice and he get jokes thrown at him."
"Did I hurt your feelings Curtis?"
"Karma's a bitch. That's all I gotta say."
"I know nigga."
The younger rapper disappears into the bathroom to brush his teeth and wash his face. 50 Cent's attention focuses on the television once more but it doesn't last long because his mind starts thinking about all the things that was said to him by his former girlfriend. As much as he doesn't want it to get him more upset, it does because everything she said about him is true. He is selfish. He realizes that it can't be like this anymore. His head rests back on the sofa as he looks up at the ceiling of the suite, completely lost as to what to do. His son has to come first; he knows that much. It is not easy hearing her say all those things about him and deep down knowing that she is right, but he cannot give up on his son. 50 means it when he says that he loves his little boy more than anything. Lloyd Banks returns into the great room, unaware to the older rapper, and makes his way for the kitchen. He knows it is hard for his best friend and wishes he could say or do anything to help him. He stares at him, wondering what he is thinking. His feelings.
Banks takes the same seat as before and begins to eat the eggs and toast. He opts for milk instead on orange juice because he feels like drinking it. 50 hears him eating and opens his eyes. "You dead yet?" he jokes.
"Funny kid. It's not that bad."
"You said you'd eat anything because you're so hungry."
"Yea but it's good. No lie. I've tasted worse man," the younger rapper says honestly.
"Thanks. I think. Ay, what you doing today?"
"Got an appearance to make tonight. Why, you wanna finish the album?"
"Naw. I haven't booked the studio for tonight. Let's go to the gym later on."
"Sounds cool to me. When we gonna wrap the album though?"
"Dunno. I'll see how things are going. Damn. We should've finished it yesterday."
"No use worrying about it now. Just gotta work on it another day."
"True. So you down?"
"I said yea."
The duo spends the rest of the morning in the older rapper's suite and order lunch when they become hungry again. 50's mind is busy with many thoughts ranging from work to his personal life, especially thoughts about his son and his best friend. He is deep in thought when Lloyd Banks is on the phone making some business calls, wondering why he had the sudden strong urge to kiss the man earlier. The unexpected feeling took over and he does not know what stopped him from tasting the younger rapper. It's wrong. 50 Cent continues to eat and think, not paying any attention to the TV or anything else around him. The fight he was just in with Marquise' mother still has him upset and raw because he knows that he is doing the best he can under the circumstances to be a good father to his only son but she is not seeing any of it and it is so frustrating to him. Banks finishes up all of his business conversations and rejoins his friend in living room to eat his lunch. The talk amongst themselves as they finish eating. The gym waits.