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“How dare you! I don’t care you’re our CEO or even that you’re older.” She stood right in front of his desk. There wasn’t anyone in the office besides JYP so she felt no pressure to calm down. “You’re always telling everyone how the mental health of your artists is a priority. Are trainees not included in that? Because tell me why I’m stuck with 9 heartbroken boys? The ones that are in the best mood are stuck desperately taking care of the others. Felix and Chan are bawling their eyes out, Jisung was having trouble breathing! You want to know how Changbin is? You made him numb. I warned them, I saw it would be Felix in the elimination, but he’s just there. He looks dead! How is that in anyway putting their mental health as a priority?!” 

JYP looked shocked, he clearly wasn’t expecting anyone to storm in and yell at him today. Now that EunJi had gotten everything she wanted to say out, she fell down on the chair in front of the desk, tears starting to streak over her face. She knew that this was the way the industry worked, but she refused to believe they were going to end as seven, so she had to try, to scream at her boss and convince him, because she could see, there was no way they’d be complete as seven.  

He handed her some tissues before softly speaking, “I’m sorry. All I can say right now is that I didn’t eliminate them for publicity, they were taken out because I genuinely didn’t think they were ready to debut yet. For that same reason I can’t just put them back in either, EunJi. But seeing your current state, theirs must be worse, which is why I am willing to meet halfway. The only thing left planned is a showcase, which was just supposed to showcase their progress throughout the show, but I think we can change that up. I’ll allow them to perform songs both as seven and as nine, we can let the audience choose who will debut.” 
The fact that he had come up with a solution so fast truly showed he was willing to do his best to help his artists and that lifted a huge weight off EunJi’s shoulders. She was convinced the fans saw the same she did, they were better as nine. 

The next few days she barely saw the boys, Felix and Minho were back to sleeping in the dorm, but they were rarely there. The boys went to the practice rooms early and came back late. The clear chance of once again debuting as nine had rekindled a fire, they were working harder than ever now that their goal was so close. While they were busy, EunJi had taken residence in the BTS dorm for a while, since she didn’t want to be alone yet.

A groan came from her as another body flopped on top of her own. “Hyung made pancakes, Eunnie, wake up.” Despite the harsh way he woke her up, the boy spoke with a soft voice, as to show mercy for her waking up ears and head. 

When the girl tried getting up however, Jungkook had made himself seemingly too comfortable on top of her. “Kook? You were the one telling me to wake up, you know?" He only hugged tighter, making the girl giggle. "Pancakes?" He looked up at her with his doe eyes. 

"Fine, but you're comfortable. I take full offense on never being allowed to cuddle you." He smiled with a pout and stood up, leaving the room to let her make herself presentable. She slept in Chan's hoodies, so she quickly pulled on some sweatpants before following the younger boy into the kitchen. 

As she sat down everyone was talking in different groups while eating calmly. The boys had a day off and EunJi had taken her day off too, today was the final showcase so she wanted to be there for Stray Kids as much as she possibly could. 

"How has practice been going along Eun-ah?" Besides Jungkook, Yoongi had probably been the BTS member she gravitated to the most. He had always had this comfortable vibe around him, showing he cares in the small things, wordlessly. He would see her spill something on herself and a second later she'd have something in her hand to wipe it off. Small things like that made him comfortable to be around. 
"It's fine, I pretty much finished learning Likey yesterday." Taking a bite of her pancakes she smiled, gave Jin at the other end of the table a nod of approval, and turned back to look at Yoongi once again. 
"I'm glad. Are you going to the Stray Kids dorm again today?" EunJi only let out a hum of agreement as she had just stuffed her face with more pancake. 

"I'll probably play something with Kook before heading back later, you don't have a lot of free days." 

"I have a song that I think could use a female vocal, can you try it out? Maybe I could use it for the demo." 

While they had been talking, Jungkook was just waiting, having long finished, but hearing her suggest playing games with him made him impatient. EunJi only had time to nod quickly and stuff some more pancake in her mouth before she got pulled towards his room. 

From backstage, Minho and Felix were stood next to EunJi, watching the other seven members perform Yayaya and Young Wings. "I like the song, I really like young wings. It looks like a choreo perfect for you, Min." She was desperately looking at positives to keep her nerves from taking over completely. 

She liked the song young wings the most, for sure, but she couldn't deny that they looked better while performing with nine. Despite the dark nature of the songs, the boys all looked vibrant as ever performing Hellevator, School Life really allowed them to showcase their happiness before they went back into Grrr.

"A robot has no mistakes, but a robot and human are different. When I see a nine-member stage, I still see lacking parts in both of you. But when all nine performs, the expressions are alive. Congratulations, Stray Kids will debut as nine."

And that was all it took, for EunJi to lose her calm and ignore the staffs backstage. 
Because they did it. They really made it to their debut as nine. As soon as those words sank in she didn't care anymore. She ran up onto the stage, the members that saw her quickly made way for her, allowing her to rush up to Chan, who had previously been hugging Felix. She ran into his arms and he picked her up easily, twirling her around. Both had the biggest possible smiles on their faces, not a care in the world about what was happening around them. 

When Chan put her down she just hugged him tighter and, with her face in his neck, she whispered, "you did it." Chan was happy to notice he could feel her smile on his skin.

Moments later, they were standing in a line of ten, Chan and EunJi in the middle, holding hands in a friendly way, his group members on either side. At first, Chan had been given a microphone, to make a small ending ment for the people at the venue, but before they were even standing in their position, EunJi had taken it from him with a sweet smile.

"Hello everyone, some of you may know me, but for those who don't, let me introduce myself." She spoke up confidently, letting Chan's hand go for a second to bow at the audience, "hello, I am Kim EunJi, a pre-debut solo artist from JYP entertainment, please take care of me," before taking his hand in her's once again. She could hear some people in the crowd yelling her name enthusiastically before she continued.

"As I recently explained in a Twitter Q&A, Channie here," she lifted their hands up, "is one of my best friends for a long time. Along with Mayke, who's sadly back in my home country, he helped me through some of the hardest moments in my life. Without the two of them I would have never been able to stand in front of you today, as an artist and as a person. I will forever be grateful to Chan." 

She had a smile on, but a mixture of happy and sad tears were brimming her eyes. She knew she wasn't being filmed, the live show had ended a while ago, but there were still the people left sitting in front of her in the dark, faces looking up at her while she was unable to look back at them. 

"Which is why I have been by his side ever since he started his own journey. First through texts and calls when he started training at JYP entertainment, timely meet ups when I came to Korea to do the same, and lately I have had the pleasure of being able to be at his side whenever he needs me. When the show started I was there for Chan and his eight brothers, when he had happy and proud moments I was there to live them with him, and when he had sad and heartbreaking moments I was there to tell him it would be okay, that they would be fine together as nine. Finally, I could make my promise true." She smiled, turning to look at Chan. 

"You made it. You will debut as nine." Tears streaking down her face she finished off towards the fans. "So please take care of my best friend, so that I won't be afraid to leave him in your care. Because our Channie deserves the world and I can't give that to him alone." Fans started yelling again while Chan hugged EunJi before they all piled into a pig group hug. They stuck for a while before breaking apart again. 

"Don't forget to support the others too, they deserve this just as much, I'm just a little bit biased." EunJi laughed into the microphone with a teary smile gracing her lips once again. 

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