All Work No Play

by beaple leone michaelmas

Summary:

Shishido Shiina, a summer intern at Headlines Japan, is tasked with the herculean assignment of getting an exclusive, biographical interview of the US Open champion Tezuka Kunimitsu – leading her to chase him to his personal training camp and to invade his privacy for one whole summer. As she learns more about the man behind the champion, however, Shiina realizes the mission she initially thought of as the pivotal point of her journalism career may also change her personal life forever.

Prologue: First Challenge

A/N:

To clarify, Shishido Shiina is in no way related to Hyotei's Shishido; I just like the way her name sounds. I hope you enjoy this fic! ::D

Disclaimer:

I do not own Prince of Tennis. The whole concept belongs to Takeshi Konomi-sensei.

Prologue: First Challenge

"Shiina-kun, do you have a boyfriend?"

Shishido Shiina turned around so fast she cricked her neck. Rubbing her nape irritably, she retorted, "Are you naturally nosy, Nanjo-san, or is that the paparazzo in you?"

Nanjo smirked at her, leaning forward across her tiny table and rapping her head with a roll of paper.

"That's a stupid question, my dear intern," he said. "What's the difference between one and the other?"

Shiina frowned, straightened her bangs, and quickly took the papers from the man's hands.

"Is this my new assignment?"

"Oi, Shishido, don't change the topic-!"

"Tezuka Kunimitsu?" She looked up at her boss and found him staring back at her with a highly disgruntled expression. "Is this the assignment you were talking about?"

"Let's not talk about this here, Shishido-"

"I thought you were putting me on the Okinawa expedition team," Shiina said, more resentfully than she had intended. "And what does my having a boyfriend or not have to do with this? I'm not going to seduce Tezuka, am I?"

"Oi, listen up, will you-?!"

"Nanjo-kun, are you harassing our female interns again?" a stern voice said from behind the two.

Shiina watched as the editorial assistant paled.

"Nonsense, Rio-chan," Nanjo said, laughing nervously. "I was talking to Shishido about the details of her latest assignment. But since you're here, I'll…" He trailed off, snatching his documents back and disappearing towards the break room in a flash.

Turning to Shiina, whose apprehension was intensifying per second, the Editor-in-Chief smiled.

"To my office, please, Shishido-san."

XXX

She could not believe her ears.

"You want me to interview Tezuka?" Shiina intoned lifelessly. "The US Open champion?"

Headlines Japan's Editor-in-Chief smiled at her from the other side of his mahogany table. Instead of feeling comforted, however, Shiina felt even more ill at ease; with his shrewd eyes, impeccable suits, silk ties, and perpetually shiny shoes, she never thought of Rio-sama as the type of person she could ever be friendly with.

"We've received intelligence reports that he's in Japan for a vacation," Rio-sama said, pushing a new set of papers before Shiina. "Shiratorijima, that's where he'll be."

"But, I…" Shiina blindly looked at the map before her. "W-won't he be here for training?"

"From what I know of Tezuka, that's probably what he'll be doing."

"So won't I just be bothering him?"

Rio-sama fixed a stern look at the intern.

"Are you trying to talk your way out of this, Shishido Shiina?"

"N-no, Chief! I just-"

Stopping Shiina short with his cold, penetrating gaze, Rio-sama asked, "You want to become a journalist, don't you, Shishido?"

"Yes, of course," the intern replied, "it's always been my dream."

"If you nail this one interview, you'll be up the media ladder in no time."

"I realize that, Chief, but-"

Shiina bit her lip, unsure if she should continue.

"I'm just wondering why you chose me for this assignment," she said hesitantly, her hands balling into fists. "I'm just an intern, and I hardly know anything about sports, so… why me?"

Considering the question, Rio-sama carefully replied, "It's just as Nanjo says. If you don't have a boyfriend, you're the perfect reporter for this assignment."

"WHAT?!" Shiina cried, banging on the table. Realizing her mistake, she laughed nervously, and softly repeated, "I-I mean, you can't be serious, Chief, sending me on a project as big as this for such a trivial qualification. If you can even call it that-"

"There's a twist in this assignment, Shishido-kun," Rio-sama replied, not losing his composure. "You're not going to tell them you're a reporter. You'll act as Tezuka's, ahhhh… how do I say this…? Friend? Yes, I think that's the closest term for it-"

"I'm supposed to… seduce him?"

"Don't phrase it so inelegantly, Shishido," Rio-sama chided. "Befriend is the right term. Besides, it's not as if he'll never find out you work for Headlines. The game plan is that you'll meet Tezuka without him knowing who you are, and you'll find out more about him while his guard is down-"

"But, Chief, I don't know a thing about the man-!"

"Once he's gotten more comfortable around you," the EIC continued as though Shiina had not interrupted him, "you'll gather more information, and eventually confess about what you're really after. If he's the proper gentleman that I think he is, he'll allow you to write the interview since you've already gathered so much data without him noticing. We won't even be sued for invasion of privacy."

"Excuse me for saying so, Chief, but I believe that's a huge risk-"

"Journalism always involves risks, Shishido-kun."

Journalism my foot.

Rio-sama frowned, apparently seeing the rebellious expression on his intern's face.

"We need an intern because if we sent a veteran reporter, no doubt one of Tezuka's private staff will find out, and then there'd be no chance for an interview with him – probably ever again. We chose you for this job because you're the most suitable for it. Though you're not the best among your peers," said Rio-sama honestly, causing Shiina to bow her head in shame, "you're perfect for this assignment, and I have no doubt you'll accomplish it splendidly."

Shiina kept her head bowed, trying to keep herself from answering back.

"For God's sake, Shishido!" Rio-sama yelled - the first time Shiina had heard him do so. "Just think! The shortcut to success, fame overnight! Just for doing this one interview-"

Shiina tuned out Rio-sama's voice, focusing instead on the decision that had to be made. Truthfully, she was unsure of her skills as a journalist; she had never handled an assignment of this magnitude before. But if she were honest with herself, Rio-sama's offer was irresistible; it was, indeed, the shortcut to her dreams. Of course, there was the deception that bothered her…

She was sorely tempted to ask Rio-sama to give her time to think, but, knowing how fast news crept along the grapevine, Headlines needed to get a headstart before any other publication, and her boss would not hesitate to offer the job to another intern if she refused it.

There was no other way around it. She would have to choose now. The biggest choice she'd ever make - thought over and decided in a matter of seconds.

"I'll do it," Shiina said suddenly, cutting Rio-sama's lecture. "I'll do it, Rio-sama."

The EIC froze at the shock of the abrupt outburst.

"You'll do it..?"

"Yes," Shiina confirmed with conviction, raising her head, expression determined. "Thank you for giving me this opportunity, Chief."

"Splendid!" Rio-sama exclaimed, jumping out of his seat, ecstatically taking Shiina by the hand. "You leave tonight, Shishido-kun. Ask Nanjo for your trip details; I'm afraid I have a meeting to attend. Also, don't forget to ask him for advice on undercover journalism – he has much experience with such matters, though he may not look it. Then, Shishido-kun, try your hardest, all right? Goodbye!"

As instantly as she had made a life-changing decision, Shishido Shiina was thrown out of the EIC's room and into the office hallway. Feeling slightly shaken, she barely registered the fact that Nanjo was standing before her, an amused twinkle in his eyes.

"Here," he said, handing her an elegant leather notebook. "Your boat ticket is inside. I've also written everything you need to know about your latest assignment. Don't read it here - too risky."

"Nanjo-san, Rio-sama told me to ask you-"

"I told you, everything you need to know is written in there," Nanjo replied irritably. "Also, I've only written in the first few pages, so you have the rest of the notebook to yourself. I suggest you write your 'findings' there."

"Nanjo-san, I-"

"Good luck on your trip, Shiina-kun," he said, winking at her before dashing towards the office door.

Frozen by the mind-boggling succession of strange events in her otherwise boring life, Shishido opened the notebook despite Nanjo's instructions. Aside from a boat ticket for Shiratorijima at 10PM that evening, there was only one other thing in it:

Onishi Tenma, housekeeping

Cursing inwardly, Shiina slammed the notebook shut, determined to glean more information from her immediate superior. But he was gone.

A/N:

There you go! The rather dragging but necessary prologue of this story. There will only be eight chapters for this fic, including a prologue and epilogue, and the plot's already been outlined. Thanks for reading!