Three days earlier he had spent a fantastic day together with Kyoko. From morning to late evening and even her father had sent them away with a smile when Yukio came to pick her up. That blessing alone kept her grinning like a happy fool for half the day.
Yukio remember how he spent more money on a date than he usually spent over an entire month, but with his New Year's gift within sight he could afford it.
The only shadow on their date was Kyoko's grumbling when he gave her the cashmere scarf, but as he had guessed she stopped grumbling the moment she felt it around her neck.
Yukio in turn frowned when he received a pair of gloves that must have bankrupted her, but damn they felt good on his frozen hands.
At the moment both of them were busy working off their debt to Urufu, because he'd be damned if he'd allow his best friend to buy him clothes, even if Yukio knew he really didn't need the set of high class, elegant casuals he had received a day earlier.
Neither did Kyoko, but glancing at her when she distributed the fourth set of documents to half a dozen men in business suits, Yukio had to agree that she looked stunning.
“Gentlemen, before we welcome our guests, that would be your employees and your customers, let's start by answering a few 'why' questions.”
Yukio looked at Urufu who had fired up the beamer. He was the only one of the three of them who wore a business suit. If Yukio remembered correctly it was the insanely expensive one Kuri had ordered for him during their summer break.
Makes sense, Yukio thought. I could never wear anything like that. He wasn't as certain about Kyoko, but Urufu had been adamant that he'd never dress her up like an old school secretary. Yukio wasn't sure what Urufu meant by that, but he was happy to see Kyoko in clothes she could use on dates as well.
“Urufu, the new slides are up. Kyoko cleaned up the charts for you,” Yukio said and nodded at his girlfriend when he spoke the last words.
Urufu didn't say anything, but he gave Kyoko a thumbs up and prepared the slides.
A tap on his shoulder made Yukio turn, and he remembered the man beckoning him from the first session Urufu ran after rumours about his year in an institution for juvenile delinquents leaked onto the net.
“Yes?” Yukio asked.
“What's the difference here?”
Yukio looked at where the man pointed and tried to remember what Urufu had said. “Let me see. Vanilla agile is mostly based on the idea to deliver more value early whereas lean software development focusses on removing waste.” Ah yes, I even understood this one. “Basically it's an aggressive viewpoint contrasted against a defensive one,” he said.
To a certain degree Yukio wondered how something Urufu had managed to teach the gang in less than half a year could be so horribly difficult for adult professionals to grasp. Maybe Urufu was right when he said it was simply too easy to understand.
The businessman stared at Yukio as if he had been some kind of ghost, and earlier it would have made him feel uncomfortable. This group, however, was one they had seen several times since the chaotic days during summer break.
They seemed to have gotten used to the young staff, and Urufu and team no longer thought twice about running the sessions.
“You know you're a lucky one, kid,” the businessman suddenly said out of nowhere.
Huh? “Pardon me?”
There was something pained in the expression of the man. “Japan's changing. I'm one of those who can see how we need to adapt to those changes.”
“Yes?” Yukio didn't say anything else, because it was clear there would be more to come.
“You won't need adapting. You'll be one of those who lead that change. I envy you.” The last words came as the businessman turned and threw Urufu a long and thoughtful glance.
You don't know half of it. James said Urufu's unchanging. He might lead the change, but unless he adapts he'll break under it himself. The thought surprised Yukio. He knew it to be right, but he couldn't understand from where it had come. Am I growing up?
“I have a good teacher,” he said instead, because that was probably what the man in front of him wanted to hear.
Around the conference table those seated adjusted their chairs when Urufu coughed, and the two who had stood around a small table laden with sparkling water and fruit quickly grabbed a bite each and returned to their chairs.
That was their signal. Both Yukio and Kyoko bowed and left the room. As the work on whatever case Urufu had chosen progressed Yukio needed to process the data with the help of Kyoko who had proven to be far more meticulous than he was. On top of that Kyoko knew how to make it all come to life with her sketchpad.
An ugly part of him resented that her abilities already had overtaken his. It made him feel like the least important of them, but Urufu promised that he valued Yukio's special talent just as much. That talent was yet unknown to him, and sometimes Yukio wondered if Urufu just tried to be kind.
“Something for me yet?” Kyoko asked from her laptop.
Yukio firmly shoved his thoughts away and sent her the highlights. “Uhum, you it it now.”
“Thanks. Eh, Yukio, why did you remove the organisation chart?”
He looked at his screen. “They're setting up the new process Urufu talked about earlier.”
“Won't they need an organisation for that?”
Damn, did I do something wrong? Yukio took a second look at his screen. Hell no! “That just has to be backwards. If they do it in a new way they'll have to restaff anyway. If we leave it out they'll create new teams based on the process.”
Something itched inside of him. “Let's put it this way Kyoko. If we send the old chart back, won't they try to plug a square hole with a round peg?”
Kyoko looked back at him with big eyes. “OK, I'll use your data.”
Damn, I wish Ryu was here, or even better, his father.