If she'd been alone in the dark, damp, tight space, Scieszka had no doubt she'd be terrified right now. Jumping at every noise, shivering at every draft, hyperventilating with the closeness of the walls around her, she could never have concentrated on the bank of machines in front of her.

Of course, if she'd been alone in the crawlspace, she wouldn't know how to work the machines anyway. In fact, she wouldn't even be there at all; never would have dared something as audacious as tapping into official phone lines. She'd be right where she'd spent the last few months; hiding in her room with her books and her increasingly wild speculations. With nobody she trusted to tell, nobody she could ask for help, with the stacks of books closing in around her as surely as stone walls.

Winry muttered something Scieszka couldn't quite catch, brow furrowed as she leaned in to adjust something on the switchboard. Scieszka watched her, moving easily and confidently in the tight space, and wondered at how her bright, confident, assured presence could make her think about how much room there was, not how much there wasn't. Wondered at how her swinging ponytail and evil chuckle could make her think about everything she could do, not everything she was helpless to do. Wondered at how her blue eyes and warm smile made Scieszka feel like an action-story heroine, not a scared, disobedient girl.

"Winry?" she murmured. Winry glanced up at her, raising an eyebrow, and pulled the headphones off one ear. "Uh?" she said.

Sciezka felt shyness overtake her, but a quick flash of blue eyes and warm smile emboldened her heart again. She looked down, letting her heavy glasses slide to the end of her nose. "Thank you for believing in me," she murmured.