Chapter One

Men are what their mother's make them...


"Reuben, my father always told me that when it comes to Willy Bank, you can't rely on contracts," Natalie reasoned with him as she continued to make a sandwich for Charlie who was standing at her feet holding her pant leg with his thumb in his mouth. His dusty blonde hair and clear blue eyes reminded her, so much of his father; Charlie was his miniature version.

"My lawyers say their iron clad," Reuben assured her, "Give me some credit for my business sechel, huh?"

"I just don't think, it's a good idea," Natalie explained, "Neither would my father or Rusty for that matter." Charlie looked up at the mention of the name Rusty. It had been mentioned several times before, but it was always in relation to him, not to something that his uncle Reuben was doing and his mother didn't agree with. They barely disagreed at all, except for when his uncle Reuben tried to take him into the casinos.

"Well, I'm doin' it, it's done," Reuben stated, "And you haven't spoken to your father and Rusty in over four years, how would you know what they think would be a good or bad idea?"

"Because I know them, Reuben," Natalie countered, "And they wouldn't think this was a good idea."

"Well, I'm not going to be like Rusty and have to pull jobs just keep my hotels solvent."

"Hey Reuben," Natalie said, before placing Charlie and his sandwich at the dining room table. Charlie watched with fascination as his mother sat his stuffed walrus, Tip, beside him and went to follow Reuben. Charlie looked down at his peanut butter and jelly sandwich, took it in his hand, before getting out of his chair and following after his mother and Uncle Reuben.

"You're still young, Nattie," Reuben ranted, "You don't understand. Do you know that the Inuit people put their elders out on an ice floe to die where they're too old to hunt?"

"That's just a myth."

"Well, that ain't goin' to happen to me," Reuben said adamantly, "I can still hunt. This is it; it's my chance. Natalie, I use to mean something in this town. I would walk into a restaurant; if it was full they would snap out a new table just for me like that."

"Look, Reuben, if you're worried about your place in history, let's get a street named after you or a boulevard," Natalie suggested. She really didn't like the idea of Reuben working with Willy Bank. He was willing to do anything to get on top and with Charlie constantly being around Reuben; Natalie didn't feel comfortable about the entire situation.

"We can talk about that when I'm dead," Reuben told her, "Natalie, I appreciate you trusting me with everything that happened, but I got to do this." Natalie looked at the older gentlemen unsure. She wouldn't trust Willy Blank with exterminating a cockroach that wasn't in one of his hotels, so why would she trust him to uphold a contract agreement he made with Reuben.


Natalie was sitting in her room watching an old movie with a cup of tea sitting on her bedside table, when she heard the window smash. Slowly getting up, she walked toward her closet to grab the Louisville slugger she kept in there for safety. Creeping out into the hall, she made her way towards her son's bedroom. Maybe, she was just hearing things, but she wanted to make sure Charlie was safe.

"Mama," she heard her son shriek at the top of his lungs. Dropping the bat, Natalie ran to her son's room pushing her way roughly through the door only for someone to grab her from behind and place a rag over her mouth. Natalie watched struggling in horror as the man holding her son climbed out his first story bedroom window. As Natalie was blacking out, she heard the one holding her tell her that if she, herself, even tried to help Reuben then she would never see her son again.


"Reuben!"

"Partner," Reuben shouted in return.

"Reuben," said the shorter man, who must have been Willy Bank, "Oh, so good of you to come."

"Of course," Reuben answered, "Of course, I have more items for my punch list. I have so much energy; I can hardly sleep from the excitement."

"Where are you at with the visas for the chefs," Willy asked, a small smile on his face.

"My man in Washington says they'll be stamped by the time we open," Reuben assured his partner.

"No, no, nope, not good enough."

"That's what I said," Reuben answered, pulling out a set of documents from his breast pocket, showing them to Willy with a large smile on his face. Willy took them in his hands, and quickly skimmed them over before handing them to the associate that had brought Reuben to him.

"Oh, that's good and the chandeliers?"

"My ex-wife's new brother-in-law, you don't need the details, it's done," Reuben exclaimed, "Half price, they're already at the warehouse. And because I know it mattered to you, I appeared before the city council, the one way street leading away from the rear entrance, now leads towards the rear entrance. All roads lead to the Midas."

"This is perfect."

"Great views from up here," Reuben said, looking around the construction site, "Where's the partner's desk goin' to be?"

"No partner's desk…"

"Two desks?"

"No, two desks, one desk," Willy stated, "One chairmen's desk. One." Reuben looked at Willy with curiosity.

"The arrangement is changing," Willy explained, "Was changed. As a matter of fact there is no arrangement."

"Natalia said that you would try and screw me," Reuben mused, "That you had done it to every one of your partners, but I defended you, I said 'Nah, me and Willy Bank been around long enough that we both shook Sinatra's hand.' And there's a code amongst guys that shook Sinatra's hand."

"Screw Sinatra's hand."

"Screw Sinatra's hand," Reuben repeated.

"You're dead weight," Willy stated clear as day, "You think I'm gonna carry you and pay you at the same time. Reuben, you're out."

"Never, this is my land."

"Was," Willy corrected, "Was your land. You signed it over to the corporation."

"For fifty percent interest!"

"Which I'm going to ask you to sign over to me for a small cash payment," Willy explained, pointing at the contract that his associate was now holding. Reuben looked at the associate and then down at the contract.

"I'm not signin' that," Reuben argued, "Get out of here, I'm not signin' that." Reuben looked in between Willy and his associate.

"What are you gonna do," Reuben asked, "Throw me off the roof."

"Well, I don't have to," Willy said, "You see before I came here tonight, I got myself a little insurance policy; if you don't sign the land over to me, that dame that you have livin' with you is never going to see her little boy again." Reuben looked at Willy horrified. Natalie knew not to trust Bank and now her son, that sweet little boy he thought of as the grandson he would never have, was the one paying the price.

"This is wrong," he said, "This is all wrong." He grabbed the pen from the associate and signed the contract, as much as it hurt him to do, but he knew Natalie and Charlie were the ones who had the shorter end of the stick.

"What about Charlie," Reuben asked, as he signed the contract.

"Oh, you and your little dame will see him on opening night," Willy stated, "But, only if you and her don't do anything to sabotage me before then."

"You're leavin' me with nothing," Reuben said, clutching at his chest.

"You know you're right," Willy said, "And it's rude." Going into his pocket, he pulled a casino chip out and threw it at Reuben. Reuben caught it and looked at it closely. The chip that should have said 'The Midas' instead read 'The Bank.'

"Here," Willy said, "It's the first batch, just got made."

"You changed the name."

"I like it better, don't you," Willy shouted in response as he and his associate left the construction site. As they left, Reuben clutched at his chest again, before finally collapsing to the ground.


Rusty was standing in front of the safe that he had been just about to rob when his cell phone began to ring with a familiar ring tone. Pulling it out of his pocket, he answered it.

"Yeah?"

"Rusty, I know this is probably a bad time," he heard Danny tell him, "But, I – I know where Natalie is..." Rusty almost dropped his cell phone at those words. He had been looking for her for the majority of the past five years, only doing the odd job here and there to fund his never ending search. To this day, he still had no idea, nor did he understand why she had just up and left in the middle of the night. The note she had left gave him no reason or even a clue of where she could be. And now, here was his chance and he was going to take it.

"Where is she?"

"Vegas," Danny answered, sounding slightly miffed, but also slightly concerned as he did, "How soon can you meet me at Teterboro?"

"Why?"

"Reuben's had what I'm guessing was a heart attack and Natalie, she, uh, she needs our help."

"Gotta go," he said, hanging up his phone and walking out of the store. This job wasn't even going to be worth it. He had a girl he needed to talk to and win back.


Walking out of the airport and towards Reuben's plane, a cup of coffee in his hand, Rusty smiled when he saw who was waiting for him. Climbing into the plane, he took a seat opposite his best friend.

"What's the latest?"

"Nothing," Danny answered, "She said that the first twenty-four hours…" Danny trailed off and began to fiddle with his wedding band. Rusty knew exactly what had happened.

"Tess not coming?"

"She knew ... About everything."

"What," Rusty asked, looking at his friend in confusion.

"She knew."

"What did Natalie say," Rusty asked, not pushing the topic any farther than Danny would allow. Danny looked at him sadly.

"You're going to have to talk to her," Danny said, "You do not want to hear this from me."

"Well, then just tell me what she told you," Rusty countered. Danny looked at him with a slight glare.

"Reuben got double crossed by Willy Bank and now, they're both paying for it," Danny stated simply, "But, you really need to talk to her, because-"

"Willy Bank," Rusty asked, looking at Danny curiously, "I would have thought she would have known better than to get involved with Willy Bank, we both taught her better than that."

"She did," Danny said, looking out the window as the plane took off, "She's only in this mess because Willy Bank decided to take out some insurance to make sure she and Reuben would both have their hands tied behind their backs."

"So, that's why she called you," Rusty said, looking a little hurt that he wasn't the one that got the call. Danny shrugged. Rusty looked at Danny for a moment longer, there was something that he wasn't telling him, the real reason why Tess wasn't coming and why he was so angry at her. And by the look of it, he was going to have to wait until he could talk to Natalie to know what it was.


"Hey," Linus greeted as both Rusty and Danny made their way off the plane with their bags, and began walking towards the car that he had rented when he had first arrived. He looked at the plane as Danny climbed down the steps.

"Hey, where's Tess?"

"She knew," Danny snapped.

"Whoa!"

"Any change," Rusty asked, getting into the car.

"Well, he's in critical condition, but he's still alive," Linus explained, walking over to the driver's side door, "You know if he doesn't-"

"Is Stan there," Danny asked, not wanting to hear Linus' negativity.

"Yeah, he's been there an hour."

"Stan, will tell us what's going on."

"So," Linus started, as he pulled away from the airplane, "Rus, you excited to see Natalie again?" Rusty looked to Linus and then back out the window.

"Yeah, but we got to see Reuben first."

"She's already at the hospital," both Danny and Linus answered, but Linus was the one that continued.

"Stan's worried about the after effects that the chloroform that had been used on her," Linus explained, "She woke up to the hospital calling her and letting her know about Reuben, but once Stan saw her, he noticed that she was looking fatigued and she said that she was feeling dizzy, that she had a hell of a time driving because of it. The fact that she's having trouble with anxiety right now isn't helping her either." Danny looked at Linus worried.

"She didn't tell me anything about chloroform when she called me about Reuben and Charlie."

"Okay, so you now about Charlie," Linus said, turning towards the hospital, "And well, she didn't remember about the chloroform until after she got to the hospital and almost passed out. Stan ran a few tests and when he told her about the results, that's when she remembered the cloth over her mouth."

"Who's Charlie," Rusty asked from the backseat looking confused, "What happened?"

"Charlie's Natalie's son," Linus answered, as Danny started shaking his head, "And she's guessing that Willy Bank had him kidnapped as his insurance policy against any kind of sabotage." Rusty looked dumbfounded. Natalie had a son?


"Myocardial Infarction," Stan explained to the group. Natalie had stepped out for a moment upon seeing Rusty and her father. By the way that Rusty couldn't even look at her when he entered the hospital room, she knew he knew about Charlie and was most likely angry with her about it. She would be to; leaving him nothing, but a note saying goodbye and not a single reason why and the engagement ring she had fallen in love with, yeah she would definitely be angry with her too.

"He's endured an incredible shock to his system," Stan continued, "Can he recover? Yes. Will he recover? It helps if there is something to live for. Family?" Stan looked at the group. They all shrugged their shoulders. From what they knew Natalie had been staying with Reuben since her disappearance and that she had a son, but none of them knew what truly happened, so they couldn't really answer if there was any family.

"He doesn't have any left," Natalie explained, entering the room, her eyes were a deep red and she was clutching at her arms. The only piece of jewelry she had on was a gold necklace that had the charm, '#1 Mom,' hanging from it that she had never taken off since that first Mother's Day. Rusty watched her intently as she walked towards Reuben's bed, standing beside her father, not looking at anyone, but Stan.

"Friends then" Stan said, looking at Natalie, who was still looked pale from having her blood drawn earlier, "Maybe that'll be enough."

"Reuben, he always was too trusting," Saul said, placing a hand on Natalie's shoulder. She looked up at him with a small frown.

"Is, Saul, is," she corrected.

"Of course, is," Saul agreed, looking down at Reuben. Yen started snapping at Natalie, but she still had no clue what he had saying.

"You try talkin' him out of it next time," Rusty answered for her. Natalie looked up at Rusty. For just a moment they shared a small look, before quickly looking away. They were going to have to talk sooner or later, but they had a more pressing issue; Willy Blank and Charlie.


"Look, Bank, hurt Reuben, kidnapped my grandson and left my daughter in this situation," Danny stated, "And I know how that makes me feel. I know what that makes me want to do."

"Well, I'll tell you what I'm gonna do," Turk cut across, "I'm gonna get close to Bank and I don't care if it gets messy. He brought a small kid into this…"

"I'll drive you," Virgil added, "We'll get him leaving his barber."

"Good, then I'll inject him," Livingston offered.

"Yeah, and I'll find a spot to get rid of the body," Basher finished.

"All valid ideas," Rusty stated, "Great initiative, but-"

"But, even though Bank stepped over the line, we have to do what's best for Charlie and for Reuben," Danny continued.

"Which means we offer Bank the Billy Martin," Rusty said, trying his best not to curl his hands into fists. The last thing he wanted to do was let Bank get off scot free, but the Billy Martin was the best course of action for all involved.

"Wait a minute," said Turk, "And then what, he goes for it? Natalie and Rusty get their son back and there are no consequences if he does it again?"

"Those are the rules," Linus reasoned, finally speaking up.

"No, those are the rules for someone who understands the rules," Basher argued, "Which Bank don't because he obviously broke 'em, so he don't get the chance."

"I think for Reuben and Charlie, we give him the chance," Frank sighed.

"Whoa, whoa, hold on a second," Rusty said, holding his hands up, "When did Charlie become mine and Natalie's son? I haven't seen her in five years…" Turk threw Rusty Reuben's wallet, which he had taken to see if there was anything worth knowing about inside. Inside the wallet were two tiny photos of Natalie and Charlie. One was at a baseball game she had taken Charlie to and the other was a black and white photo dating farther back. On the back was a date that was only a few months after the Benedict heist. Taking the photos out of the wallet, which he threw back at Turk, Rusty walked into the house.

"Natalie," he called as he entered.

"She's in the young master's room, sir," said Reuben's butler. Rusty nodded his thanks and made his way throughout the house, as soon as he passed the large home theatre, he heard sobbing. Following the sobbing, he came to a small room that was decorated for a young boy who dreamed of being a superhero. There on the tiny bed was Natalie clutching at a stuffed walrus with a cape on. Rusty frowned.

"Natalie," he said, sitting down beside her.

"Oh god," Natalie gasped, when he grabbed her shoulder, "Rusty, you scared me."

"Sorry, I just…I just…I guess I just wanted to know where Charlie's father was," Rusty asked, "I thought maybe he'd want to help get his son back." Natalie looked up at him and then bit her lip.

"You already know, don't you," Natalie asked, looking up at him. Rusty smiled at her slightly.

"Yeah," he answered, "Why didn't you tell me? We would have figured something out…we would have been fine. We had just stolen twenty-six million dollars for ourselves, Natalie, why did you just run off?"

"Do you remember the conversation we had the day of the heist standing at the fountain where I asked you if you ever thought about having kids," Natalie answered, "Do you remember what you told me?" Rusty looked at her for a moment and thought back to that day.

"I told you that I never really saw myself as a father," Rusty stated, closing his eyes, realizing just why she had run away, "That because my own father was piece of crap, I wasn't even sure if I wanted them. That's why you ran away, you didn't know if I was going to make you…Nat, baby, I never would have done that, but you took that decision into your own hands and I've missed five years of my kid's life. Five years, Natalie, how do I get that back?" Natalie flinched every time Rusty snapped at her; the stuffed walrus she had been crying into earlier was still in her hands.

"You don't think I know that," she snapped back, "You don't think I've regretted leaving you every single day, maybe, if you had been here, if I hadn't made the decision to raise Charlie as a single mom this wouldn't be happening right now. Charlie IS MY LIFE! And I put him in danger – I should have run the moment that Reuben got involved with Willy Bank, but I didn't. I took one look into his blue eyes and I couldn't uproot him like that, like my father had done to me countless times before. And, now, he's paying for my mistakes." Rusty stood silently as he watched her sink down onto the small bed behind her.

"Tell me about him..."

"His name is Charles Daniel Robert Ryan, even when I thought that you would never see him, know about him or even want him, I couldn't help, but give him your name because I love you so much that I wanted our son to have a part of you with him at all times," she answered, a small smile creeping onto her face even though her and Rusty had just yelled at each other, "He calls himself Daring Dash though, Daring Dash with his sidekick Titanic Tip." Rusty looked at her for a moment before breaking out into a smile.

"Oh god, I've missed you," he told her, before grabbing her face into his hands and kissing her with ounce of emotion that he ever felt towards her. Natalie gasped, but quickly returned the kiss, clutching at him afraid that he would disappear, like he had been just a figment of her imagination.

Pulling away from her, Rusty dug her engagement ring out of his pocket and placed it back on her finger.

"Don't ever take that off again."