Skitter's sitting in the doorway she's been sleeping in for about a week now, the suit in a rucksack that Matt gave her for that very purpose. In one hand she's got the file she was handed by her employer. In the other, she's got a steaming cup of tea she bought for fifty pence from the little cafe on the corner. It's disgusting, but it's hot.
The one day you've got the money to stay in a hotel and you're still kipping in doorways. Seriously, Skitter, you have issues. She ignores the voice in her head. It's been there for as long as she can remember and never contributes much to the conversation.
The file tells her what she already knew: she's seriously outmatched here. Spying on politicians who've been fiddling their expenses and supplying second wives is easy for someone with her rather unique skill set, but spying on another super is going to be nearly impossible.
And there's one minor flaw in her employer's plan.
Skitter shoulders the rucksack, tucks the file under one arm, and tries to balance to the cup of tea as she gets to her feet. The shoes she's wearing aren't even worth wearing. She kicks them off and pads barefoot to the broken-down phonebox at the end of the street.
It's barely used these days, what with mobile phones, but she's never been in one place long enough to make it worth buying anything that has to be charged, and she'd never pay the bills on time. She pulls a few coins from her pocket - change from paying for the tea with a fiver - and dials the number on the last page of the file.
"It's Skitter," she says. If I were a real superhero, this'd be where I'd spin round and emerge wearing the suit. But everyone knows they don't exist. "I have a question."
"About the job?"
"Snake Eyes. Her apartment. I think you've overlooked something."
"And what would that be?" He sounds surprised; either he didn't think he'd make a mistake - ever - which she can well believe, or he hasn't yet got over the fact that his youngest spy just called him. She's never been known to use the phone.
"We're in London. She's in America. How the hell am I supposed to get across the seas?"
"Language, Skitter, you're too young for that."
"What, for hell? I've only lived in it for twelve years." She didn't meant that to sound flippant, but he's being ridiculous. Any kid abandoned a few days after their birth isn't going to be polite and cultured. She never even went to school. She can read because the older kids who looked after her taught her to do so.
"Cynicism isn't becoming to a young lady."
"Right, because it's so ladylike to listen in on government secrets for a living before you're old enough to have hit puberty, of course." Not that I'll ever hit it. Growth spurts - as if they're going to happen.
"You know what I mean. Well, you're going to get to the USA the same way anyone else does. On a plane. I'll cover it in your next pay cheque, of course - though what I've just given you should easily cover it."
"I don't have a passport."
There's a silence on the other end of the line. Somebody's looking at the phone box curiously; Skitter turns to face the other way, taking a sip of tea as she re-positions her few possessions to be easier to snatch up if anyone bursts in on her. "I'll get Matt to run you up in Req."
"But Ke--" She bites off the name she swore not to use in public. "I mean, I don't have a name. You can't tell him my name."
"You'll travel under a false one. Nothing's more fake than the one you've got, anyway. He'll pick one for you. Rest assured, Skitter, your secret is safe with me. Come into the office in a couple of days and pick it up from Requisitions. It should be ready by then."
A passport. She'll be a real citizen then, even if it's not her own name. "Right," she says, and is about to hang up when he speaks again.
"By the way, Skitter," he says, "You don't have to sleep in that doorway. If you don't trust the staff at hotels, we've got a few rooms here. You can take your pick any time you want."
She's touched by the concern in his voice but something else is bothering her. "You know where I'm sleeping?" she says.
"Yes, well, we keep an eye..."
"How long have you been spying on me?"
He starts to reply, but the phone clicks and goes dead. Her money's spent. Still, she gained something from that conversation. She might be spying for them, but they're spying on her.