Welcome To The Harem

Beekeeper Series Part 2 of 3 by Nynaeve
Summary: Nynaeve's classic Marita series, the first known in-depth Marita backstory. This part contains Fever Pitch.

Beekeeper Series by Nynaeve (nynaeve1723@dnafan.com)

TITLE: Fever Pitch
by Nynaeve

SPOILERS: need to know the Marita eps and have general conspiracy
KEYWORDS: conspiracy, colonization, secondary character
SUMMARY: Marita continues to uncover memories.
DISCLAIMER: Chris Carter... yadda, yadda, yadda ...
1013 ... blah, blah, blah. Bottom line: not mine.
FEEDBACK: Yup. Love it. Keep it all in little folders, specifically
marked for each story. Respond to all of it too.
DISTRIBUTION: Anywhere, anytime, just drop me a line so
I can come visit.
DEDICATION: To those of you who kept "needling" me to get on
with it. And especially to Yanichka for answering all my pesky questions
about Russian. How do I say, "Thank you"? *vbg*

Fever Pitch

I burn. A flame rises out of a darkened, primordial sea toward
the black of a star blasted sky. I am a mask of fire. Memory
tells me in Ancient Rome an integral part of the funeral rites
was the display of the deceased one?s family mask. Sacred treasures
these were; should they be lost, stolen, or broken a family mourned
its loss anew. They are making my mask now, but I fear this fire
within me will melt the heavy was as it shatters the thin porcelain
of my face. I will lie at *his* feet, a heap of scattered bone, a
tiny cone of soft, gray ash. I am dying. I?ve been dying in
increments for the last two years. It seems at last my hour is
come round.

I gaze through fever shimmered eyes at the author of this final
chapter of my fate, the epilogue of my existence. My strength
is nearly gone and I seek only the cool relief of rest. I let
go my ambitions, loose my cares, think of the goals unmet with
nothing more than utter indifference. I open my mouth, feel my
lips crack and bleed. I scrape the sandpaper of my tongue against
my teeth, every tiny serration a new experiment in pain. I
whisper. He thinks I call for him. Let him think that. Let him
mistake my purpose. I will take my curse to my grave. Krycek.
This is his doing ... somehow.

I close my eyes and am grateful for the full dark I find. I listen
to the sound of my own stentorian breathing. I am dying, I remind
myself. Unconsciousness, prince to the Lord of Sleep, steals me
away, spinning me, waltzing me into pure oblivion. "It?s over,"
I tell myself. "Over." For the last time I wait for the abyss of
recall to catch at me, to pull me in. I prepare for my freefall
into the arms of eternal memory. There is nothing left to regret,
nothing more I can change. In the terrors that await me I will at
last find all my answers.

I drift aimlessly thought the heavy dark, borne along by unseen yet
palpable currents. Suddenly, my mother is with me, beside me. She
is young and pretty, her face unlined, her hair glowing as it did
when I was small. Gone is the fear that lurked within her toward the
end of her life. Why was she afraid? I should know this, but I don?t.

"Marichka milaya (my darling little Marita)," she says. "Moya' doatch
(my daughter) ..."

"Mama, mama," I gasp at her. I hold my arms out to her, but she
turns away. "Mama?"

"Marichka," she begins. I hear the deep sadness in her voice.
I?ve disappointed her. She knows what my life was and in death
she hates me. I cannot still the sob that rises in my chest and
flees my mouth, invading the stillness around us. She turns back
to me. Her face is composed, still, gentle even. "I?m not angry
with you, milaya." For the first time I realize she greeted me
in Russian. So it was from my mother that I learned the tongue
that would introduce me to Alex Krycek.

I search for words. I sense we are in a place between worlds.
I want her to take me away from here, take me with her. "Let?s
go," I finally manage to plead.

"Nyet, Marichka. No. It?s not time yet, not for you. You are
not done with life, though I know you wish you were." She looks
at me, her eyes alight with love as I recall them. "I wish I could
fold you into my arms, take you with me, but I can?t."

I am confused. My body is lying in a bed, burning up with a
fever no human can survive. She can?t mean any of this; she
simply can?t. I?m almost done dying. I must be. I want to
be done with it. I?ve already tasted hell. God and the Devil
between them can dream up nothing worse than what was done to
me at the hands of the Syndicate and their needles.

"Marichka," she says again. She seems to savor the taste of
my name as it flows from her tongue, across her lips, caressing
my ears, soothing my soul. I realize I have missed her beautiful
voice more than anything else in my life. "I could not resist the
urge to come and see you again. I have missed your face, the
spark in your eyes. I came to tell you the one thing I was denied
at my own death. I love you, milaya. And I have longed to tell you

"Good-bye?" I ask her. "But ..."

"You must go back and finish the task ahead of you." This is a
new voice, from behind me. I turn, though in this environment I
am completely unaware of any movement. I see my father. His face
has softened somewhat. He smiles at me, a small tight smile. "I had
no idea," he tells me.

I nod. Had he known what would befall me, my father would never
have placed me in the position he had. His face, though softer
than at his death, is still stern, grave, the face I remember
from every report card day.

"You?re not done. You know things that Mulder and Scully must know.
These things must not die with you, Marita. Though I have little
doubt they could uncover them, you know how short time is. You must
help them."

"I can?t," I whisper. "I?m exhausted ... the things they did..."

"You *have* to," my father commands me.

For the first time, anger flares. He guided me to my position
within the Syndicate. He is at least partly responsible for what
happened to me, rather he foresaw it or did not. "You don?t know!"
I explode. "I can?t take it any longer. They stole my memories;
they damaged my body beyond complete recovery, ever! I was one
of them and they did this to me anyway."

My father?s face changes very little, but his voice becomes stricter,
the disciplinarian I remember. "You were not one of them, Marita.
You played them against Alex Krycek and Fox Mulder and you lost.
Your ambition outweighed your common sense. I feared this about
you, but I had thought you had moved beyond ..." he pauses. I
see my mother turn away again. "Beyond what had occurred."

My brow furrows. "What? What are you talking about?"

He stares at me, "You don?t remember?"

"No! I told you, they stole every memory I?ve ever had from me."

He says nothing and I grow frightened.

"Daddy?" I beg, "Tell me, please."

He shakes his head. "I can?t. No one can give another the
answers he or she seeks. You must find this on your own,
Marita. I?m sorry."

He is sorry. I can feel it. Though his face remains unchanged,
I can feel the emotion within him. I hang my head in defeat,
resigned. I feel this world I?m in begin to slip away, the unseen
currents pulling me along faster and faster. My parents recede
into the distance. I close my eyes, shut out the sight of all
I long for but am denied. My father?s voice carries to me, amid
the rush in my ears, "*My* Merry..."

Once again, I burn. I, who once thought I would never be warm again,
am the focal point of an unholy firestorm. For the first time I
become aware of the voices around me. I feel the sweat soaked
sheets beneath me. I start in shock as a hand lays something cold
against my forehead. Slowly I identify it as a rag, soaked in cold
water and laid against my burning skin. I relax.

"Mr. Blackley," Mrs. Simpson says, "I really think we need to get
her to a doctor." Her voice is concerned. I wonder how long I?ve
been like this.

"I?ve told you, Mrs. Simpson, I am afraid the trip would be too
much for her. I have a friend who is going to come here." Krycek?s
voice is firm and I can detect the note of irritation in it.

I can hear Mrs. Simpson make clucking noises with her tongue.
Clearly, she does not approve of Krycek?s course of action.
Krycek could care less, this I know. The approval
of motherly, middle aged ladies is not something he seeks.

She changes the subject. "I feel so badly..." she begins.

"Don?t blame yourself," he tells her automatically. "This is a
recurrence of the illness I told you about. It is unfortunate,
but not entirely unexpected."

"But she seemed to be doing so well for such a long time,"
Mrs. Simpson says. "I?m afraid that supplement you had me putting
in her food weakened her."

Krycek mutters something under his breath. My fever sharpened
hearing can?t quite pick it up and my brain can only process
Mrs. Simpson?s words, not their meaning. "Mrs. Simpson, I appreciate
your concern. The supplement was not the cause of this, however."
His impatience with her is clearly growing.

They are silent and I allow my mind to grapple with their words.
With aching slowness, I assign sense to what they have said.
Krycek had directed Mrs. Simpson to spike my food with something.
Something to bring on my memories. My sudden recall starts to make
sense. He must have grown concerned over my apparent lack of memories
and taken steps to ?encourage? the surfacing of those memories.
He never saw the side effects - how I could no longer sleep, how
my world grew splintered around its edges. The bastard
nearly killed me.

Mrs. Simpson speaks again. "If only I had come sooner that day."

"You came before it was too late, Mrs. Simpson. You could not have

I remember now. For about a week after my realization of the date
and its implications, I had been plagued by my vision-like flashes
of incoherent memory. Unable to sleep adequately, I grew more and
more disconnected from my tiny world. Memories were flooding in on
me, drowning me in a crest-tide of powerlessness. One morning, I
don?t know how long ago, I had stepped out onto the balcony, hoping
the cool, fresh air would revive me, clear my head. It had been
colder than I?d expected. Snow was drifting down out of the gray
skies. I remember the world began to go gray around the edges and
the buildings in front of me began to vanish and reappear. Sensing
something was terribly wrong, I had turned to go inside. I don?t
recall anything else.

"I still don?t know what she was doing out there," Mrs. Simpson wailed.
"It was freezing."

"It doesn?t matter," Krycek tells her.

I must have fainted out there. Had Mrs. Simpson come later, I might
have frozen to death. I sigh, wishing she could have done just that.

"Marita?" his voice is barely above a whisper. My eyes remain closed,
but I can hear him move to my side in long, quick strides. He takes
my hand and kisses it. If there were any laughter inside me, I would
have expressed it at that moment. I want to tell him to drop the act,
I know who he is and what he is and I know this is all a show for my
devoted minder, Mrs. Simpson. I can do none of that. I open my mouth,
try to moisten my arid lips with my desert-like tongue. I flutter my
eyes open, struggle to focus them on his face.

"Water," I say, or try to. Sound is completely absent.

I watch his head swivel, as he directs Mrs. Simpson to bring me something
to drink. My hand is clasped in his and he strokes my palm gently. He
is not even aware that he is doing it; I am certain of that. He has
been concerned about me. His face is haggard and I doubt he has slept
well lately. I cannot kid myself into believing his worry is for me
personally, but rather the secrets I damn near took with me.

Mrs. Simpson comes back with a glass of pale liquid. Juice, of some sort,
I guess. She has been crying. She gives me a watery smile, as she places
an arm under my shoulders, elevating me enough to swallow. The juice is
cold and sweet, yet not sugary. I can feel it wash through my mouth,
liquefy my tongue, and proceed down my blanched throat.

"Can you swallow some aspirin?" Krycek asks. "It?ll knock back the fever."

I nod. He starts to get up. "I?ll get them, Mr. Blackley," Mrs. Simpson
tells him. The note of distrust is unmistakable in her voice. She takes
the glass with her, to refill it, I presume. Or to keep her eye on it,
my mind quibbles. She is back quickly with more juice and some white
pills. As though I were a small child, she motions for me to open my
mouth. She pops the aspirin into my mouth and follows them with more
of the refreshing juice. I am starting to tremble as she lets me sink
back against the pillow. My eyes close again.

I feel Mrs. Simpson?s hand against my forehead. I realize disjointedly
Krycek is still holding my hand. I wonder if she?s buying any of this
act of his. The loving .... what? What does Mrs. Simpson think we are?
Interesting question. I hear amazement creep into her voice as she tells
him, "Why, her fever is down. I think it might be breaking."

"She?s going to be fine; I told you that."

There is a long pause. I know they are regarding me. Mrs. Simpson
is undoubtedly pondering my miraculous turn around. Krycek is most
likely thinking how to best unlock the secrets I possess. He must
realize how close he came to missing out on the very things for which
he is keeping me alive. I realize afresh the power I have over him,
small though it may be.

"I should change those bedclothes," she says.

"Marita," he says again, softly. "Put your arms around my neck."
I do so, clinging tightly to him. Awkwardly, he maneuvers me into a
position where he can lift me up. I don?t know how he manages it
using his single arm, but he does. I can feel his arm shake,
even holding my scant weight. He moves with quick, assured grace
down the short hallway and into the living area. He lays me on the couch.

He goes back into the bedroom and comes back with the washcloth, having
obviously stopped to soak it again. He places it against my now cooling
forehead. He has also brought the juice glass, which he goes to refill
once more. He returns and seats himself on the carpet next to me, holding
the glass, watching me drink. I drink almost the whole glass before
indicating to him to put it down. I let my head fall back onto the couch

"Do you remember what happened?" he asks.

I nod.

"Can you talk?"

My voice comes out as a whisper. "I hadn?t ... been ... sleeping well.
... I ... was feeling .... um ... fuzzy." I stop, drawing deep breaths.
"I thought ... hoped ... the cold ... clear my head."

He nods. "Do you remember feeling faint?"

I shake my head. "Not ... really ... not that ... bad."

He smiles at me, a tight, wry smile. "It got pretty bad, Marita."

I nod. He can?t even guess how bad...

"Were you remembering things?" My heart tugs in my chest.
He looks so sincere, so full of care for me. Fleetingly, I
wonder what would happen if I told him everything, begged
his forgiveness. Could we forge a new alliance? Yet I know
that cannot be. I am not here because he feels anything for me.
I am here because I might be useful to him, because he believes
he can use me. I betrayed him once and he?ll never forgive me. I
must remember that.

I look at him, meet his gaze. "Random ... not connected ...
no sense."

"Tell me," he says, his voice reasonable, only a tiny flicker
in his eye betraying his eagerness to know what I?ve remembered.

I sigh. I am careful to choose ?memories? of things he already
knows. Our meeting is relived; I describe some of the men we both
knew - the one who smokes all the time, the English man, always
impeccably dressed (who is dead now Krycek tells me, as most of
them are); I share purposefully vague memories about the bees
and the corn. I watch his face, gauge his reaction. He nods
slowly. I have given nothing away.

Mrs. Simpson appears from the bedroom. "There are fresh sheets,
sweetheart. Do you want to come back to bed or stay there?" I
indicate I?d like to go back to my bed. Alex is not leaving, not
yet. That is clear. If I remain on the couch he will watch me
endlessly, pump me when possible. My bedroom is a better choice
if I hope to be alone at all. She tells him the two of them can
easily manage to take me back.

They lift me between them and I instinctively lean against Mrs. Simpson.
Though she knows me hardly at all, the woman does actually care about me.
To her I must be a woman, ill, perhaps a victim of some terrible fate.
I am not a pawn, a playing piece in the battle between mankind and its
exterminators. We go only a few steps before a high, almost buzzing
sound fills the air. Funny what comes back to you; I recognize the sound
of a cell phone instantly. Krycek looks at Mrs. Simpson who nods and
slips her arms more firmly around me, taking up the slack as he steps away.

She continues walking me to the bedroom. Our progress is slow yet steady.
She helps me to lay down, gives me more juice, more aspirin, and places
a fresh cloth on my head. She sits next to me, distractedly arranging
my hair against the pillow.

"You had me so scared, Miss Torres," she tells me at last. So Krycek
changed my last name as he had his, for her benefit. "You were like
this at first, last year, I mean, when Mr. Blackley brought you here.
Why, I stayed with you 24 hours a day."

I smile at her as she fusses with the washcloth. "Please go on,"
my mind begs her.

She gratifies my wish, my not-quite-dying wish. "I thought you were
ever so much better, sweetheart, I really did." She lowers her voice
and leans in closer to me. "And I don?t care what Mr. Blackley said -
I was wrong to give you those supplements. They affected you."

I feel my eyes start to close. I?m fading into sleep. No abyss beckons
me, no fiery memories claw at me. I realize I?ve remembered it all ...
all of it, only the fever had blocked that for a while. I smile.

Mrs. Simpson continues to murmur, though I am no longer making sense of
what she says. Unexpectedly, I hear Alex?s voice behind her. It is cold,
chilling really, and angry. "Thank you, Mrs. Simpson. You may go home now."

She argues with him. I fall asleep to the sounds of their debate.

I wake up, how many hours later I don?t know. My fever has completely
broken and I feel capable of sitting up. I push the pillow up behind
me and pull myself into a sitting position. Krycek is slumped in the
chair in the corner. He is sleeping. There is a glass of water next
to me. I take a long drink, then try my voice. "Alex," I whisper.

He starts. Anger floods his face and his hand reaches toward where
I?m certain he?s wearing a gun. He recalls where he is and a smile
appears quickly. I could almost have imagined the first look. Almost.

"Marita," he says warmly. "How are you feeling?"

"Better," I say. "Where?s Mrs. Simpson?"

He hesitates. "Her daughter was in an accident. She had to go
tend to her."

He?s lying. She questioned him, argued with him. I struggle to hide
my sick fear, not to let on that I know the truth. She?s dead.
She couldn?t be trusted anymore and he killed her. I choke back a
sob, mask it as a cough. And the horrible thing is that, as awful as
I feel at that moment, a part of me knows exactly why he did it.
A part of me can?t help but applaud his action. Cold. Efficient.
Ruthless. I think my father would have understood perfectly.

I nod slowly. A thought takes refuge in the back of my mind.
I can?t identify it, can?t quite name it. The words "in an
accident" reverberate against my skull. My father speaking
those words to me upon my mother?s death. That cold certainty
he was lying... My forehead creases and my eyes narrow. A lump
rises in my throat.

"Marita? What is it?"

I look up and see not Alex Krycek, but my father. His face is set.
He has cried, but the tears are gone and I?ll never see anything
like that emotion from him again. I can *see* a part of him has
been turned off. His voice is gentle, yet deep within I can sense
something else - anger, resentment, even fear. He tells me she died
in an accident, explains about the heart attack. He is lying to me.

"Marita!" I blink and it is Krycek sitting there. His face is the
same as always. His voice remains unchanged.

"My father," I tell him, amazement creeping into my voice. "My father
lied to me when my mother died."

He stares at me and I wonder if I?ve spoken in gibberish. I went to
sleep secure in the knowledge I had remembered everything. I realize
I had remembered everything Krycek wanted me to. This is ... this is
something I?d forgotten I forgot. There?s more? I sigh heavily.

Krycek is at my side now. He is clearly perplexed at this statement of
mine. He does not seem to know how to take it exactly. I can?t blame
him, as I don?t know either. Gathering my wits, I wave a hand. "Never
mind," I tell him. "It?s from my life ... before. She died before I
went to college. It?s not important now." The bells in my head tell me
that?s not true. They just don?t tell me why it isn?t true.

He accepts that, or seems to. I am taking nothing at face value. I
doubt he is either. I have a feeling he is going to be doing some
background research on my family life. I decide to make it easy for
him. I smile, a weak smile, I know, but a smile nonetheless, and
tell him if he?ll feed me breakfast, I?ll tell him about her.

He makes me oatmeal while I tell him about my mother. It seems the
memories fill me as I tell him. The facts emerge from somewhere deep
inside, from a locked vault I had forgotten even existed. "Ilyena
Covarrubias," I start out. "She was Russian by birth. Once she
married my father, she Americanized her name to 'Ellen'. It sounded
better with my father?s last name. I?m not clear how she ended up
here. I either never knew or have completely forgotten that story.
She used to speak to me in Russian. We moved a lot and I always loved
that I had this exotic mother who could speak this weird language,
not like French or Spanish or German. Of course, I got teased a lot..."
I stop. Words, cruel mocking jests, ring in my ears. I shake my head
and they dispel. "Still, where ever we were, it made me feel special.
She had a heart attack...." *I?m reciting the party line* " ... while
driving on the freeway. The car hit an underpass. The doctors were never
sure which killed her..." *This is wrong. This can?t be right. This
is the lie* "...She was still quite young. I think it just about killed
my father ..." *killed my father?* "... He was never the same. It was
just before I went to college."

Krycek looks at me. "Your father lied to you, you said."

I calculate my chances here and decide to take a risk. "It?s not right.
Something in that isn?t right. But I don?t know what."

He nods. He believes me, believes too what I said earlier, that it
didn?t matter. But it does...

"You said Covarrubias was her maiden name?"

I nod.

"Why did you use her name and not your father?s?"

I stare at him. I look down, staring into the half consumed
oatmeal, as if it can answer me. Finally I look up at him.
"I don?t know," I say with a shrug. "I have no idea."

We finish our breakfast in silence. Afterwards he asks if
I?ll be all right for a while. Things he has to take care of,
he tells me. I ask him to stay while I shower. He does,
leaving once he sees I am dressed in comfortable clothing and
not going to faint in the bathroom and possibly bleed to death
on the nice clean tiles.

I stare at myself in the mirror. The constant discomfort had
been with me for so long, I didn?t realize until now it was gone.
My pupils are reacting to the light. Sluggishly, but they *are*
reacting. My hand flies to my hair - nothing like what it was, but
it is undeniably softer, less lank. The fever? Could the fever
have done this? It is the only explanation.

I spend the day resting. I realize, for the first time, that there
are books here. I take one at random. It?s a mystery book, probably
bought my Mrs. Simpson. I am stabbed by pity, momentarily. I read
it, on and off. Sometimes I lie and doze. I drink juice and keep
taking aspirin. Mrs. Simpson must have stocked up on food while I
was ill. I make myself some broth. Krycek does not come back.

Just as I am wondering if I should make my dinner, there is a knock on
the door. What ever he?s doing, Krycek has decided it?s best not to
let the Golden Goose starve. It?s Chinese take-out. Wisely, he only
ordered me rice and Egg Drop Soup.

Eventually I go back to bed. I fall asleep reading the mystery book.
I already know who did it. I knew from the first chapter.

I wake up to find Krycek next to me. He is sleeping soundly. I wonder
briefly what he did the previous day. He won?t tell me, so I won?t
bother to ask him. I get out of bed quietly and go to take a shower.
I have showered, dressed, and set out breakfast when he appears. I am
already feeling oddly domestic when he approaches me and kisses my
forehead. Ozzie and Harriet, we?re not, but still this is a bit weird.

"You must be feeling better," he comments.

I nod happily.

"Do you think you could manage a few days, maybe a week on your own?"

I think I could and I tell him so, adding, "I?m going to need a few
things, though."

He nods and motions for me to continue, as he eats.

"Laundry," I start off with. He points down the hall and makes a
motion I interpret as a dryer tumbling around.

"More food," I add. I get a bit daring, "Or money to go buy some."

"Make a list," he tells me. All right, so I am still a prisoner.

"A tape recorder and some notebooks," I tell him.

He looks quizzical.

"I want to be able to record any memories that might surface.
Plus, there might be things I need to write down, sketches.
I don?t know exactly."

He nods. "Add it to the food list."

The last item I want I?m not going to get, but I try anyway.
"A phone." I don?t give him reasons. An unasked-for-defense
will make him suspicious.

"In case you get sick again?" he asks.

This is the myth we are both going to cling to, neither of us
wishing to plant ideas in the other?s head. He appears to ponder
it for a long time. He never does give me an answer. Once he?s
done eating, I give him my list and he goes out.

I work on the laundry and read. I was right about the killer.
Still, it was a fun book to read. There are others and I think
I?ll read another one. Brother Cadfael seems like a fabulous
person to have on one?s side.

Krycek returns. There is enough food, all the kind I can simply
heat up, to last at least a week. I have my choice of numerous
types of juices. There are soups and crackers. I still can?t
shake that feeling that I?m in some alternate reality. He surprises
me by placing a cell phone on the counter. I meet his eyes and smile.
I hope it?s a grateful smile.

"In case you get ill," he tells me. "And Marita, I get the bill."
I look down for a moment. He knows I?m holding back. He trusts me
about as much as I trust him. He also needs me. With my knowledge
his position will be fortified. I am on notice though.

"I know," I reply evenly.

He leaves me his cell phone number. I am to call only him. He
tells me there are things elsewhere he must attend to and that
he?ll be back in no longer than a week. We eye each other warily.
We?ve danced this step before - in a field in Khazakstan, in the
hold of a ship. We distrust each other and our individual motives.
We each know the other cannot be held accountable for a single action
that does not directly benefit themselves. Still between us the
electricity of alikes sparks and fire kindles.

His eyes meet mine, challenge me. My head spins once as he pulls me
tight against him, nearly throwing me into the door. I flashback to
that moment in the ship?s hold. This is how it started. His lips
are on mine. He is pressed hard against me. I slide my body along
his. He responds with a low groan into my mouth. My lungs are
beginning to plead for oxygen when he pulls away from me. His eyes
are alight. I am panting.

"Damn," he mutters. He moves me out of the way, rips the door open.
I utter a small cry and fly at him. He kisses me savagely again.
Our bodies touch, heat rising between us, engulfing us. We pull away
again. He slams the door shut. I hear his key turn the lock.

I lean against the door and I burn. Vindication. I am alight with
passion. Retribution. I am ablaze with memory. Salvation. I am a
fiery pillar of plans. I burn.

END, "Fever Pitch"
Continued in "Those Who Help Themselves"