{8}

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"As you might know, between us as JYP and YG, there is a traditional company battle. We are having one soon and I want you to accompany me and Stray Kids. I won't have you performing for the battle, since this is also a debut mission for Stray Kids, but due to your history, YG might want you to perform, so be prepared." Park JinYoung spoke with a kind smile, he thought it would be benifitial for the girl to see this.

As soon as she left the office, she started to call one of her friends at YG. Even if their age gap was fairly large, due to their shared experience of a large trainee period, they clicked immediately.

"Yedam-ah!" EunJi called out as soon as the younger boy picked up on his end of the line.

"Noona! Why did you call?" The younger boy exclaimed in surprise, exhaustion edged clearly into his voice.

"You know the JYP vs YG battle, right? I'm tagging along." EunJi said, a smile prominent on her face, no matter if he could see it or not.

"Really?! I'm battling!" Yedam shouted, full of excitement.

"Calm down, fluff ball. Want to do a duet?"

"But how will we practice, though? We have different practice buildings and different training times.” Yedam’s voice sounded both excited and uncertain at the same time. Excited at the idea of doing a duet again, uncertain at how all this was going to work.

“We could rent a dance studio somewhere in Seoul to practice together twice, tomorrow and just before the battle. Other times just alone in our separate practice rooms at our own company to perfect our own parts.” The older explained her idea.

“We could do Honestly by Eric Nam. It fits both our styles.” The boy suggested, now that the problem was worked out, he was getting more and more excited by the second.

“Great. We’ll meet up tomorrow, I’ll send you an address. See you~!” And with that, the conversation ended, leaving EunJi to dwell in her own thoughts. While thinking, she automatically walked towards a familiar room in the large building, her feet leading the way to where her body and heart wanted to go.

Once she stood still and her eyes regained focus, EunJi was able to see where she had ended up; one of the producing rooms open to trainees and idols.

Upon wandering inside, she noticed the room wasn’t empty like she had thought for some reason. Chan, Changbin and Jisung were there, listening to some tracks, but both Jisung and Changbin looked just about done, sleep prominent on their face, eyes taking longer to blink each time. So, as soon as the older walked in, the two of them used it as an opportunity to go sleep in the dorm, saying they had to go. Chan had no chance to disagree, looking at EunJi standing near the door. EunJi was happy to help, so she shooed them out within a second.

“Shouldn’t you be on my side?” Chan asked with a slight whine as soon as the younger boys were gone.

“Shouldn’t you let my children sleep?” Came the automatic response. It was a normal occurance for EunJi to call the Stray Kids members, par Woojin and Chan, her children, causing them to call her eomma every now and again.

All that was an even bigger reason for the others to secretly root for ChanJi, as most had dubbed them, with Chan being often seen as the Stray Kids dad.

Chan only responded with a slight grumbling noise, out of annoyance that she seemed to win the mini argument once again.

“What were you doing anyways?” EunJi laughed.

“I was working on rearranging the songs for the battle, but when they came by I let them listen to some tracks and demos for 3RACHA I needed their opinions on.

“So even in this mess, you are releasing a mixtape? Good job, Channie, don’t overwork yourself.” EunJi sat down in one of the chairs behind Chan.

“What are you up to?” Chan laughed in response.

“Just met the CEO, I’m joining you on a YG field trip. I also just called Yedam, we’re doing a duet. As a YG JYP collab, it’s not part of the battle, though.”

At the mention of a duet with another guy, Chan felt his heart drop in his chest slightly. He knew Yedam, the boy had talent and he wasn’t ugly either. But after a few seconds of jealousy, he also came back to the realisation that Yedam was five years younger, adding to the fact that EunJi had mentioned that he felt like her younger brother, once or twice.

“That’s cool, we get to spend some more time together. Maybe it’ll make us forget about the mission, while performing.” Chan smiled, he knew he’d be able to smile with her there.

“Chan, you should sleep now. Let’s get you to your dorms.” EunJi suddenly said after a few seconds of silence, realising the time once her eyes passed over the clock on the wall. It was already passed midnight and she knew they’d both had to get up early in the morning to practice for YG vs JYP. They only had less than a week left and had to make and perfect their performance.

“I can’t, I have to finish the tracks first. At least the remix for the dance.”

“Can’t you finish at the dorms? You have to sleep and I know you won’t do so if you stay here.”

Chan knew he was being stubborn, maybe even borderline annoying, but he didn’t really care in that moment. He didn’t want to leave. If he stayed here, she’d stay too, and he liked the idea of spending more time together. Call him selfish, but he might not get to see her anymore after his debut, so he was taking as much time and as many moments as he could.

“Channie, what do I do for you to go to the dorms?” EunJi was getting desperate now, he was looking paler, more stressed and more tired than usual and it looked like he was loosing some weight too, whether it’d be accidental or through diet.

“Come with me.”

It was out before he realised it and both looked shocked. Chan because he was afraid she would question his motives, not like she had ever done so. And EunJi because the sentence that should have been innocent, coming from Chan, suddenly made her feel something.

It was a tugging feeling in the pit of her stomach, but it had only been a split second so she doubted there was even anything at all.

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