"Irisie!" whined Eunbi with puppy eyes making the girl in question narrow her eyes sternly.
"Geez, and who's the older one here?" Iris tutted playfully with her hands on her hips. "Wonyoung is half a decade younger than you but acts more mature! Learn from her!"
"Ahh unnie, don't phrase in a way that makes me even older than I already am!" laughed Eunbi, breaking her cute begging expression.
"Hm, what about me?" A tall, short-haired girl suddenly latched onto Iris from behind and plopped her head down on the American girl's shoulder.
"Hello, princess," said Iris with a pinch of Yujin's cheeks.
"Ehh, no fair!" cried Eunbi in mirth.
Iris shook her head and winked at their IZ*ONE group leader. Then she turned toward Chaeyeon who had just entered the practice room.
"Queen Chaeyeon, can you please pick up your servant here?"
The long-haired brunette stopped in her tracks at being mentioned. A wide grin started enveloping her face as she instantly caught on.
"Is my court jester making trouble again?"
"Wah, so mean!" pouted Eunbi, crossing her arms.
"There there," crooned Iris, patting the older girl's head. "I'll buy you green tea chocolate ice cream later, ok?"
Eunbi instantly brightened. "Thanks unnie! But we all have to go sometime later after promotions, okay?"
"Exactly. After promotions like I said the first time." Iris smirked with an internal chuckle at the girl. Eunbi was the mother of IZ*ONE along with Iris, but when it came to who was the mother between the two of them, it was irrefutably Iris due to her more calm demeanor compared to Eunbi's silliness and love for jokes.
Just now, Iris talked Eunbi out of shopping and visiting food stalls, her favorite activities. Apparently there was new place that Eunbi had heard of that was really good. But since they were still doing 'Violetta' promotions, Iris had to keep the excited girl on track.
Eunbi wanted to celebrate all of their music show wins, but since their group popularity was rising fast, they all needed to be on top of their work. While everyone wanted desperately to debut, it was Iris who was the most serious about music. Thus, she had to keep all the "youngin's" in place.
Between all the members, they called each other princess or queen or some other court designation. Iris, however, liked to think of it was an empire rather than a kingdom or queendom. The members would joke that she was the empress while Eunbi and Chaeyeon were the queens, and the rest were princesses.
Of course, Queen Eunbi was also Queen Chaeyeon's court jester. All of the teasing was in good humor because the group was playful and youthful overall. But because many of them were also mature while also being fun-loving, no one ever went too far or accidentally hurt someone's feelings by not reading the mood right.
It was all due to being a survival competition before that IZ*ONE could have such good relations with one another. They had seen everyone's best and worse, so now that their stresses had turned to becoming a successful group, they had lightened up somewhat.
While they all wanted to do well with their own abilities, they all knew that being a MNET-produced group would significantly boost their chances of reaching and shining in that ever-desired spotlight of taking home the music show and award crowns.
This was apparent when they won "Best New Female Artist" and "Best New Asian Artist Group" at the 2018 MNET Asian Music Awards (MAMA), "Rookie of the Year (Female)" at the 2019 Golden Disc Awards (GDA) and Seoul Music Awards (SMA).
All of their success thrilled Iris to her core. But that didn't make her slack any less. She knew coming in that a MNET group would be high-achieving, and she wanted their critics to not say that they were only successful because of MNET-backing.
Unfortunately, Iris wasn't allowed to compose any of IZ*ONE's songs. But that didn't stop her from composing while she was in the group.
However, instead of being her own group she was composing for, it was for a different, but familiar group. Of course, it was BTS.
The boy group had returned from their Love Yourself World Tour and were busy on their next album, "Map of the Soul: Persona". This release would mark the end of their previously successful trilogies. At least, for the near future.
Although, Persona could be considered the epilogue of Love Yourself. Still, this album had a very different vibe from everything they had done so far in favor of a lighter, more playful sound. Their title track, "Boy With Luv" touched upon one of their earlier songs, "Boy In Luv" while also referring to their most recent message of loving oneself.
Iris had the honor of making one of their b-sides just like with "Pied Piper." In accordance with her vision and relation to BTS as a fairytale of sorts, she spun up a new idea of gods.
While BTS was as humble and thankful as ever for their success and support, Iris felt they needed something that proclaimed them as the kings they were. What better was Greek mythology for that? It checked off a lot of boxes including world appeal and knowledge of the popular Greek myths.
When Iris returned to the dorms that night, she jumped to her laptop, nervously flicking the screen open. She rapped on the metallic side of the touchpad with her right fingers. The rhythmic sound of her fingernails echoed studiously in the air.
Meanwhile, two other girls entered the room. Upon seeing Iris at her desk like a statue, they quietly padded up to the back of her chair.
"What're you up to, unnie?" asked Yena quietly with round eyes peeking over Iris's right shoulder.
Iris tipped her head back to look up at the younger girls. Before she could respond, Hitomi blurted out, "The teaser for BTS new song!"
"Oh! It dropped today. Do you know something about it when BTS releases the album in two days?" asked Yena curiously.
Iris smiled and winked. "Of course, I'm still a composer for BTS after all! Even though I have to telecommute my work to them," she chuckled.
Although she hadn't been to the Big Hit building since leaving it to join Produce 48 on the drop of a dime, Iris had been frequently corresponding with the Big Hit staff along with BTS on occasion.
She really missed the times she had spent with BTS and even TXT pre-debut. However, being an idol was a taxing job. It was everything she had expected before joining Big Hit or Produce 48 or IZ*ONE, but it didn't make it any less difficult and tiring at times.
When Eunbi suggested to take a fun, group trip out, Iris had almost succumbed to the temptation. But because this was an especially busy and crucial time for Iris, she couldn't deviate from her packed schedule.
She picked up her timetable written in English. Various lines had been crossed out from the top. The remaining uncrossed lines read:
March 4th: Together X Tomorrow Debut — have final mixing done for 'Our Summer'
April 7th: BTS finishes their LY promotions in Bangkok — final prep for new album and song composition and mixing done
April 10th: Teaser for 'Boy with Luv'
April 12th: Persona Album and 'Boy With Luv' released
April 22th: Special Video for 'Dionysus' dropped
May 4th: First BTS Speak Yourself Tour starts in LA
June: Next Izone Japanese Promotion
April 22th 2020: Special Video for 'Pied Piper'
Iris crossed out the March 4th and April 7th and 10th lines. Her eyes flicked down to the only date for 2020 written. Even though it was a year from now, and a lot could and would occur in a year, she always wrote this one line on every edition of the schedule she made.
Soon, she would have to make another schedule when June started with more specific dates of events. It was in this manner since the six months of IZ*ONE official debut that Iris kept track and passed the time.
Ever looking ahead while enjoying the present, Iris pushed herself to stay ahead of the curve. Music was a quick-paced industry, so she had to take advantage of every day and window of opportunity. Everything needed to be timed just perfect for all her plans as well as Big Hit's to occur successfully.
Whew! The days up to July 4th sure have been hectic---sorry for the delays! I hope everyone has a great day today as well as the weekend up ahead!
The timing of events are definitely going to be tight in these chapters, but I think the plan will work out nicely, hehe~ Iris's timetable is a bit of a teaser for you all.
A new chapter for the holidays will be up tomorrow!
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