It's dark in this place. It's always dark when she wakes up. Pushing the cupboard door open just a fraction of an inch, Skitter surveys the room. It's empty. Either they're not up yet, or they've already gone. Either way, she's safe.
She unfolds herself from the tiny space and pads across the room, her bare feet making next to no noise on the carpet. That's the thing about all these fancy people she keeps an eye on, she thinks. They're all so posh, they've got carpets everywhere. None of them realise it makes it easier for spies to stay undetected.
With a final backward glance over her shoulder, she unclips the line from her belt and hooks it around the balcony railings. Balconies are another thing she'll never understand the rich owning. It's like asking to have your apartment broken into.
The city's pretty quiet at this time. She must be earlier than usual. No one notices her abseiling down the side of the building, landing on all fours in the little side street, and unhooking the line with a sharp movement that's been perfected by hours of practice, but even if they did they'd dismiss the sight pretty quickly as just their imagination.
After all, a girl of her size... well, she doesn't look more than about nine, does she? She can't possibly be a spy. They must be seeing things.
With a slight grin, Skitter loosens the stomach-pinching tightness of her utility belt and heads over to the bins in the corner. Her rucksack's behind the smelliest of them, just where she left it. Pulling out a rag of a t-shirt and a pair of ripped child's jeans, she pulls them on over her black leggings and vest-top, and instantly she's less conspicuous. Just another beggar on the streets.
The money from this job'll be enough to get some decent clothes, though. Once she's reported on what she overheard from dinner the night before, anyway. Staying curled in a cupboard all night isn't exactly comfortable, but she'd rather do that than stay on the streets indefinitely. Soon she'll be able to get her own place.
Get a grip, Skitter, she says to herself. You can't get a flat at your age.
The reminder is enough to ruin her good mood. She shoulders her backpack and makes her way towards the bus stop in the main street. Two years she's been doing this job, and it'll be another five before she's old enough to learn to drive.
Suddenly worried, Skitter puts one hand to her belt, and relaxes when she feels the little metal capsule beneath her fingers. The conversation's recorded all right. If she can get it to where it needs to go, that's the little issue of the deputy prime minister's expenses all sewn up. She doesn't expect any thanks. What she does expect, however, is her payment.
The bus arrives and Skitter climbs on. To all those around her, she's just another small child.
When I'm eighteen, she thinks, they might even believe that I'm twelve.
It's not looking likely, though. It's only a matter of time before the jobs she's done catch up with her - living to eighteen's almost an unattainable goal.
Mind you, they'd have said the same about her survival in the first place, and Skitter's made it this far. She's not about to give up.