17. VOICE

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The Tempest, Giorgione, 1507
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     "Sick game out there man!"

"I know! And that move at the end—how'd you learn to do that?"

"You should've seen the other teams' faces!"

Isaac grimaced as he watched several guys swarm Josiah with praise. Casually, he leaned against a wall while the horde surrounded him as if it were normal, something the prefect was used to. Based off of his very minimal background of knowledge of sports, combined with their boyish attitudes, Isaac sensed they won some sort of rugby or football or cricket championship. He hadn't a clue which.

     "We should all go out to celebrate!"

"Sounds good," said Josiah, bright smile plastered on. "I'll pay."

"Really? Dude, you're amazing!"

"Where would we be without him?"

"Starving, duh."

God, it made Isaac sick to watch this go down, to think that he lived on the streets and scrambled for crumbs while these leeches got everything from Josiah, even when they had plenty of their own money. He noticed it, how they always came to him with their problems and their needs like children. Every time he thought Josiah would finally snap and call them out, or deny their outrageous requests, he never did. He just stood there, still but smiling, and agreed. Unreal.

"Everyone loves him," said Ash at his side.

"Hmm?"

"You were eyeing Josiah just now."

"Not eyeing. Observing," he argued. "Observing how he does everything they ask like some puppet."

Ash chuckled. "He's always been like that, at least, he's been like that since he was twelve. That's how long I've known him. Must be because of his family, you know, having to maintain his image or whatever. No one cares about his purpose though, as long as they get what they want. If you think about it, they're the brainless puppets," he pointed out. "He tells them to dance, and they dance."

"His family is that famous?"

"Yeah, the Beckett family—practically runs the luxury hotel business and London's trading industry. How'd you not know?"

Isaac wasn't sure how to answer. It was kind of difficult to explain to someone that he grew up dirt poor and never spent the night at a fancy hotel.

"I guess I'm just ignorant."

"You know what's funny? How everyone adores Josiah but they're all terrified of his father." He lowered his voice and came close. "You didn't hear this from me but...I heard he's like...secretly a loan shark or something like that."

"A loa-"

"Shhh!" Ash slapped a hand on his mouth. "You never know who could be listening."

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