The camera panned in on Iris as she reached the hand tutting part of the performance. On the television screen, her face which changed three times according to each question was easily seen. From lonely to wistful to yearning, she embraced a variety of emotions with her movements and expression.
The BTS members were eagerly crowded in front of the screen. Some of them even nudged one another to get a better look at the single television. They could've each watched the show on their own personal devices, but they felt like this was a group matter to be shared together.
"Look look! She did it perfectly!" J-Hope shouted in proud joy as Iris executed a graceful spin into the chorus. Her footwork, amended by Jungkook's advice, allowed her to fully release the high note entering the last section of the performance.
"A, A! She's definitely going to be an A! She has too!" cried V fretfully with anticipation as the end drew near.
"Shh shh! Quiet, it's not yet over!" Jimin wanted to hear the rest of the chorus.
"Ahhhh!!! She finished! Wah that was so good! I hope she ranks high!" Jin clasped his hands together and leaned forward to see the trainers' reactions now showing on screen.
The members listened with rapt, nervous attention as one of the trainers finally picked up their microphone.
"Heuh." Soyou thought she had something to say, but in the end only a single unintelligible sound came out. She shook her head with a wry smile while looking downwards.
"Oh no, do you think she's going to—?" Jin began but was shushed with hands from various members when Bae Yoon Jeong started speaking.
The smile on the dance trainer's face continually widened as she spoke. "Iris Huang... Big Hit Entertainment. I had high expectations, but you really delivered. That was well choreographed down to every meaningful detail, and your voice was steady and clear throughout. Isn't that right Soyou?"
Bae Yoon Jeong turned to the vocal trainer who finally appeared ready to speak.
"Yes, I hadn't actually heard Neverland before this. But from today, I'm really impressed. The lyrics and your delivery was very well done. Great job." Soyou smiled with a slight nod of approval.
Cheetah picked up her mic next. "Can you rap?" Everyone chuckled a little at that question. "Or you can just do everything? Songwriting, choreography, singing..." Everyone's laughter burst out louder at this second part.
Indeed, it seemed like Iris was an all around ace. After Cheetah, Lee Seung Gi added, "I'm very curious too. You can chose to rap or not to. But if you can't, we wouldn't want your score to lower." A teasing grin played across his face.
"Hyung!" Jimin called out to no one in particular as his eyes were glued to the screen. "Does she know how to rap?"
V elbowed Jimin. "Of course hyung, where have you been?"
"With you!" Jimin cried indignantly. "I don't ever remember her rapping when I was with you."
"Silly, she has a few songs that have rap in it, right Namjoonie?" V snacked absently on some food while still following the show. Jin eyed some of the food and grabbed some casually for himself.
"Ah, she's pretty good actually. Especially the melodic rapping," informed Namjoon.
"Eh eh!" Suga's voice silenced everyone as Iris confirmed she would rap.
They all watched and listened intently as Iris took a deep breath and brought the mic closer with her eyes lowered. Suddenly they flashed up, and she glared cooly at the camera. The BTS members all felt a chill of pride as she recited her lyrics with an air of ease infused with just enough attitude and playfulness.
"Woah!" J-Hope's mouth dropped open. "Namjoonie you didn't say she was THIS good. Wow. Heh!" He jerked his head to side eye Iris on the screen. She was an all rounder for sure.
"Bang PD made the right choice signing her into the company and putting her on the show." Suga lightly bobbed his head in satisfaction.
"She's like me!" Jungkook randomly yelled out.
"What the—" Namjoon chuckled at the maknae's playful outburst. Jungkook just bunny smiled in response.
Back on the screen, the further surprised trainers all had slightly agape mouths.
"Just debut now. You don't need us." Cheetah chortled as her cat eyes winked into a smile.
All the trainers laughed. Lee Seung Gi brought the mic up and observed each of them. "I'm guessing we're all thinking of the same thing right?"
They looked back with knowing smiles. The decision was unanimous.
"Then let's say it together," grinned the producer representative.
"Big Hit, Iris Huang. Your rank is A. Congratulations!" said Lee Seung Gi.
Iris broke out into a brilliant smile and bowed deeply while expressing her heartfelt thanks. 'I did it! I got A, yes!!' She exploded in elation inside.
The camera switched to the Produce 48 trainees' reactions. It settled on one of the girls.
"Wow. That was amazing! She's so good!" Chaeyeong was honestly awed by her stage presence and multi-talents.
"Yeah, she's definitely A," agreed one WM Entertainment labelmate. The other added, "Although I still think you're the best dancer Chaeyeong!"
The long haired brunette blushed. "Oh shush unnie!"
At this, one of the BTS members pointed at Lee Chaeyeong on the screen. "Oh! She was under JYP, right?"
Jungkook answered Jimin's question. "Yeah when Twice was being made. Ah, I wonder how Bambam-hyung and Yugyeom-hyung are doing..." His thoughts momentarily drifted off to his 1997 liner friends from GOT7 of JYP.
"Do you think they're watching this show?" Namjoon asked.
"Hm, probably. I didn't tell them about a trainee of ours joining the show. But they're probably watching the first episode airing. I should check later in the group chat." Jungkook was referring to the cross-company boy group chat for the 97 liners.
Namjoon nodded, and his mind fleeting flashed to Jackson. Iris Huang was half Chinese, so he wondered how the GOT7 Chinese rapper would react to Iris. Although Iris only knew a little bit of Cantonese and even less Mandarin, she could probably talk to Jackson through English. Then there was also Mark who was Thai as Iris was half-Thai.
His attention was grabbed by the television again as Iris went to get her A rank sticker and had a little bit of camera time.
"Wuh, I can't believe I'm actually rank A! I was so nervous about pulling off the performance for the first time in front of a lot of people. I'll make sure to keep this grade for the next round. Big Hit, fighting!" She doubled thumbed up at the camera.
"You can do it Iris-ssi!!" cheered J-Hope.
"Iris-ah!!" Jin joined in. And then the whole rest of BTS piped in and cheered at the screen for Iris.
If she had been here to see, she certainly would have been overwhelmed to tears at their support.
With the first part over, the evaluations, Iris's next challenge was the theme song.
'You're Mine (Pick Me),' the theme song, and re-evaluation stage would air on June 22nd, the second episode.
Of course, this had been recorded ahead of time to the first episode airing, and the BTS boys knew who was the center... They watched the ending song and first voting rankings. Iris Huang was...
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