“Hey, Matt. Finally decided I’m big enough for a suit, then?”
He looks up with a small smile as she skips into the room. “You’ll never be big enough for a suit, Skit. Just as you’re not big enough to be in this business at all.”
“Good things come in small packages,” she replies, making her way over to his desk.
“If you’re a good thing, I don’t want to meet a bad one down a dark alleyway.” He pushes aside the papers he’s examining and stands up. “You know, if you take the suit I’ll have to put you on the system.”
“Means I’ll need your name, height and weight. I’ll have to measure you.”
“You’re not getting my name,” Skitter warns. She hasn’t known Matt long enough for that. She hasn’t known anyone long enough for that. “As for height, I don’t see why you need to measure me. If you’ve made the suit, you already know how big I am. Four foot five and a quarter, thank you very much.”
“I suppose the quarter is very important.”
“I’ll let you get away with it for now. How much do you weigh?”
“Not much,” she admits. Most of her body weight is muscle, but there’s not a huge amount of it. “But my point still stands. You know my size already.”
“It’s what the system demands. We have to know it about everyone. And I bet Skitter isn’t what they write on official documents, is it?”
She doesn’t have any official documents. She never had a birth certificate and she’s never needed a passport. “It’s what people call me.”
“Fine, we’ll drop the name. But I still need to measure you before I can legally let you take anything out of this room.” He leads her over to a height chart on the wall. “Stand here. That’s it.” When he pulls the wooden bar down to her head and writes down the number, there’s a smirk on his face she doesn’t like.
“What is it?” she says.
“Four foot five. No quarter.”
Skitter glares at him. “Just because I’m short, doesn’t mean I couldn’t deck you.”
“We’ll have to try it some time. Now, weight?”
When he’s finished, he types up the numbers and saves the file on the computer. She watches him do it. He hesitates after typing Skitter. “You won’t give me a first name, I’m guessing. Got a surname I can put in? Computer’s a bit funny on people without them.”
“It should be able to cope.” She’s not giving in. Even ‘Bowman’ would be false enough, though Skitter won’t admit it. It’s a name she gave to herself when she realised she might need a surname occasionally, because no one else had thought to give her one. Matt throws his hands up in the air in a gesture of defeat and leads her over to a steel door on the opposite wall, tapping a number into the keypad.
“Right. Welcome to Requisitions, Skitter.”
The corridor’s pretty long. She’s not used to being invited into places that big and it feels weird not to be watching her back, but Matt walks quickly, so Skitter has to take two steps to every one of his in order to keep up. She can’t ask him to slow down as he’d only laugh. For some reason, people seem to think her size is amusing.
There are various suits in cases on the walls. She thinks she recognises a few, from the News and stuff, but she doesn’t like to ask. He’d only do that indulgent smile and say, “Superheroes aren’t real, Skitter, remember?”
Never mind that they both know that they are.
The suit in the case at the very end of the corridor is diminutive compared to the full-size outfits further up, but Skitter’s instantly in love with it. She’s ignoring Matt’s commentary as she takes in its appearance. “Obviously, we had to think really hard about colours. I mean, you work in darkness a lot, so black would be best, but no buildings are black. You’d never blend into every surrounding, you move around too much. Grey might’ve worked, but it wouldn’t suit your colouring at all. And if you come out at any point, you want to look good.”
Coming out. Somehow, Skitter’s not quite ready to tell the world who she is. It might make her career a very short one. It’s different for super strength folks, she thinks. Immortal guys. People with invisibility. But spies? Not a chance.
“It’s beautiful,” she says. It’s dark brown, like her hair, and simple enough – a body suit tight enough not to rustle when she climbs, flexible enough not to rip, strong enough to offer some protection against weapons, and supporting a wide utility belt. Climbing shoes with shin-high elastic to hold them in place and gloves in the same shade of brown complete the outfit.
“Safety lines and clips for climbing,” the Requisitions officer says. “Concealed knife – though I hope you never have to use it. God knows you’re in this deep enough without any fighting. Communicator. Magnetic clips, couple of darts, towel.”
“One of those mini vacuum packed ones. You never know when you might need it.” He gestures to the little pouch that would sit around her waist were she wearing the suit. “Do you like it?”
“Oh yes,” she breathes.
“Good. We’ll just have to hope it fits, then.”