It turned out that when Jane said "Help me carry...", what that meant was that we carried and she opened the doors, in a distracted kind of not-very-helpful way. We got the machine set up on a bench downstairs, and stood there massaging our hands while she produced a screwdriver from somewhere and started to remove the case.
Once she could see inside, she seemed totally absorbed - it was like Kevin had suddenly gained my power as well. He jerked his head towards the door and we started to leave. But, without looking up, she called, "I'll need some electronic components eventually. Get Marie to come down and open a door."
"Is she autistic, or what?" Kevin asked as we clumped up the stairs.
"At least Asperger's," I said. We knew a few kids who were one or the other, and Sister Mary Anselm had given us a lecture one time.
"It's like everyone has your power in her world," he said.
"Yeah, I was just thinking that. Up until she needs something, anyway."
"Maybe she's just really, really self-centred."
"Yeah. Where are Karen and Marie?"
"Well, according to my sense they're on what feels like the other side of the city, that way." He pointed at an angle in the approximate direction of the warehouse part of the building. "So your guess is as good as mine."
We soon found them, though, through the only door that was ajar. They were in some windowless room eating pizza and drinking fruit juice. Karen looked a little more composed, but her eyes were still red.
"No Coke?" asked Kevin. He loves Coke.
"Only juice," said Marie.
"MIBs are health nuts," I said.
"Men In Black?" He cast me a raised eyebrow.
"Mysterious Invisible Benefactors. But yes, reference intentional."
Kevin and I have known each other for a long time, so we can usually work out what the other one is thinking. Since nobody pays much attention to our conversations, what with the John effect, we don't usually worry too much about including others, either. We have a lot of in-jokes.
"Oh, by the way, Jane wants a door opened," he told Marie as he sat down and helped himself to pizza.
"Jane can wait," said Marie.
"Are you the leader?" Karen said suddenly, to Kevin.
"What? No. We don't - there is no leader."
"But back in the, the place..."
"I always know where everyone and everything is," he said. "So in a situation like that, I had knowledge that everyone else needed. Situational awareness. You've told her about our powers?" he asked Marie.
"Yes, I was just about to ask her about hers."
"You should be the leader," Karen told Kevin, overlapping Marie's sentence a bit.
"Why is that?"
"Why do we need a leader?" I asked. "Isn't it a bit 18th-century to assume that someone has to be in charge?"
Since only Kevin registered that I was talking, he repeated my first question.
"Of course you need a leader," Karen said. "It's dangerous, so someone has to be the one who takes charge when things get hairy. We can't just mill around arguing about what to do."
"Shouldn't we have some sort of election, at least?" said Marie. I could tell she wasn't delighted with the idea of Kevin as leader. Marie was the kind of person who automatically thinks she's the leader. Come to that, so was Jane, but she had no people skills - or, actually, a negative amount of people skills. A large negative amount. Karen clearly wasn't a candidate, and nor was I - no good having a leader who nobody notices.
"Well, I vote for Kevin," I said as loudly as I could, stepping forward. "Assuming he votes for himself, that with Karen's vote makes three, so he has a majority."
"Hold on, hold on," said Kevin. "We should have this discussion with Jane here."
"Good luck pulling her head out of that machine," I said.
"Look, can we shelve it for now? We're not under attack. We're sitting here eating pizza."
"All right. We'll talk about it later," said Karen.
There was an interval of slightly uncomfortable pizza-eating. Then Marie swallowed and said, "As I was saying - I've just been telling Karen about our powers, and I was about to ask her about hers."
"I bet you forgot to mention me and my power," I thought.
Karen turned and looked straight at me. "Yes, she did. What can you do?" she asked.
I stared at her for what seemed like several seconds. "You're a telepath," I said.
"Not exactly. I can only hear people's automatic thoughts, or the ones with a lot of emotion behind them."
"What do you mean by automatic thoughts?"
"You know the voices in your head? The ones that crazy people think are coming from outside them, but actually are your teachers and parents and stuff, or what you imagine they'd tell you? Those thoughts."
"So let me get this straight. You hear voices in other people's heads?"
"Well - I've never thought of putting it like that, but I suppose, yes?"
"So it was probably just as well that you didn't have your powers in that prison, then," said Marie.
Karen shuddered and went silent, looking inward. Marie's power of opening things extends, unfortunately, to her big mouth, and what's inside is frequently not what people need.
Kevin, on the other hand, knows exactly where people are, and jumped in to distract her. "John's power is that people don't notice him or remember him," he said, "which is why Marie didn't say anything about him. It's, um, kind of a mixed blessing."
"To put it mildly," I muttered, then blushed when Karen shot me a look. I'd just thought, "I'll never have a chance with a girl like Karen." It wasn't a completely unhappy look, which was something, though it wasn't like she was smiling either.
I would really have to watch my thoughts around her, and it wasn't going to be easy.