Ai stood in the crowd, unnoticed by the living, watching a young girl pass by. She was their client, and Ai often took to watching those who summon her while waiting for the contract to be finished. With her was Kikuri, who was acting calmer than she was normally. A family walked in front of them, obscuring her vision for a bit as they passed.
Family was an unfamiliar concept to Ai. She had a family once, but she was not particularly close. Her parents cared for her, but she had never interacted with them. The only family she'd ever been close to was Sentaro, the one who ultimately betrayed her. Having given up her emotions when she took this position, she'd forgotten what it was like spending time with family. She could no longer describe the last time she felt happy. She had toys, things to entertain her, but they did not entertain her in that sense. She watched them out of curiosity, or when she was thinking. They did not bring her joy.
Which brought her thoughts to the others of the Correspondence: Hone, Wanyuudo, Kikuri, and Ren. Had Ren not once described them as a family of sorts? Undoubtedly they got along well enough to work together, although Hone and Ren had a lot of banter back and forth, but she supposed in a weird way she would describe them as family. Certainly, she was closer to them than she had ever been with her real family.
Looking at them from an outside perspective, one could see the family dynamics. Ai and Ren fell more into the young siblings' stereotype. They were young, sometimes immature, but they got along the best. Hone was more of the motherly one, usually most sympathetic to clients, and often the one to scold the others for their immaturity. Wanyuudo was of course the grandfather figure in the group, old and wise, but still playful on occasion. And of course, Kikuri was the toddler, always playing jokes and seeing the world through a lens of innocence. In a bizarre way, they were a family, if the souls of former living and objects could have a family. Surely they'd do a lot for each other, the others had reacted so strongly when she tried to fight the Shibata's, or when she fought Gilles. Had they not been concerned for her safety as a family member might?
Her thoughts were interrupted by her name being called and turned towards the sound, Ren and the others running towards her. They quickly reached her, Ai having not moved from her spot at all. Kikuri waved at them, as if not understanding why they were panicking.
"There you are! We couldn't find you for a while. What caused you to split up?" Hone asked exasperatedly, clearly concerned. Ai turned back to the street, pointing at their client, who was attempting to get a drink out of a vending machine. They all sighed.
"Normally we don't worry that much, but we thought something was up cause Kikuri wasn't there either. Don't go running off, you scared the sh*t out of us." Ren explained, and like the others, he was visibly worried. If he expected a reply, he did not press for one, and Ai remained silent.
"Don't worry Mr. Ren, we won't get lost!" Kikuri chipped in, smiling. Ai stared for a few more seconds at their client, but turned away, content to continue their journey to visit their victim. They could very easily teleport there, but the others rather enjoyed the walk and observing the human world. Ai thought more about the idea of family in regards to the others. Sure, they were an odd bunch, but maybe they were a family of sorts. At the very least, she was closer to them than she'd ever been to someone before.
Perhaps the concept of family wasn't so meaningless to her after all.