'Pen…love you.'

'No, no, no, no, no, Gordon. Don't go. Don't leave me.'

'So beautiful.'

And Gordon's eyes closed with a sigh.

Virgil scooped him up in a bridal carry and the three of them ran for the approaching ambulance.

The trip to the hospital was the longest of Penny's life, even though it was less than 20 minutes with the blues and twos.

She sat at Gordon's head, a hand cradling his cheek as the paramedic and Virgil worked seamlessly on her husband.


Penny wasn't stupid or naive. Her jobs placed her life in constant danger. Whether that was helping International Rescue or hunting spies for The Federal Agents Bureau, a title that she found hilarious now, Penny had always accepted that risk without a quibble.

But now…

They had been married less than four hours and already Gordon was fighting for his life. She'd not paid much attention to what was happening in the room after the shock of seeing the bullet wound in his chest, although she was vaguely aware of Dianne and Kayo haring off with John and Alan in pursuit.

Once at the hospital she and Virgil had been taken to a private room to wait. She sat there and twisted her hands in her skirts as Virgil paced. He'd removed his tie, his jacket was god-knew where and there was a partial red handprint on his white shirt. Penny found herself focussing on it as her brother-in-law paced.

Then the door opened and she shot to her feet only to sigh and sink back down as the rest of Gordon's – of her – family entered. Atlanta was there immediately, gently helping her to her feet as Kayo and Dianne came in, and the three of them helped Penny to the bathroom as the rest found seats for the wait.

A distracted part of her realised that Scott and John were missing, but the thought was set aside as her best friends helped her out of her now destroyed wedding dress and into some comfortable clothing. Jeans, a oatmeal wrap-around sweater and her favourite boots helped her feel some semblance of normality, and the four returned to the waiting room where she was discreetly bracketed by everyone.

The closeness and comfort of the Tracy family encompassed her and Penelope -Tracy-Creighton-Ward, for the first time in a very, very long time Penny allowed someone other than Parker to take the weight of the world for her.

Sally Tracy may not have been a doctor for a very long time, but she was world-renown. Not even her grandsons knew just how famous she was, with the possible exception of John. As keeper of the family secrets she wouldn't have been surprised that he knew Dr Sal Hooper, foremost trauma surgeon. She'd put that life away when she'd eventually settled down with Grant Tracy and their five-year-old son Jefferson. Her Grant had wanted her to be sure that she wanted to be 'just a farmer's wife'.

She used her name and reputation now to get the information she needed. Sally didn't go any further, turning down the option to play a more active role in the procedure to keep her grandson alive, reserving that option for his recovery. Instead she read what notes were available and listened in to the operating room without announcing her presence.

Gordon had been lucky.

That mad scramble to protect Penny and having Scott barrel into them both, had meant that the bullet had entered at an angle, travelling away from his heart. It had collapsed his lung and nicked the lower edge of his shoulder blade. It had messed his lung up badly and they had removed a very small part of the upper lobe that was damaged beyond repair by the bone splinters, but he had been fortunate. If the bullet had gone straight it would have either killed him outright or severed his spine.

The operation was drawing to a close. It had been long and tiring for those fighting to save Gordon's life but eventually they had managed to remove the bullet and stabilise him. Sally was waiting outside for the surgeon, and once they were ready she shook hands with her.

'Thank you, Dr. Shan.'

'Dr. Tracy! I – thank you.'

'You and your team worked very hard and we are eternally grateful.'

'Well, we've done the easy bit. It's all up to Gordon now. But he's young and fit, I can't see that being a problem.'

'And we'll give them lots of help.'

The two doctors headed for the family together.

The news that Gordon was out of danger, that he'd be kept unconscious for a couple of days to allow his lung to heal, was greeted with relief. There were a lot of people that thanked Dr Shan, and she promised that as soon as Gordon was settled they would be taken to see him. The suite he was in had an attached room that Penny could stay and the family could visit as much as they wanted as long as they didn't over-tax their brother.

It wasn't until Penny had been installed in the chair beside Gordon that the enormity of what had happened finally hit home and the tears came. She was appreciative everyone gave her space and that only Dianne was there to see her at her worst. Her best friend held her close while she wept.

It wasn't until she'd managed to pull herself together did Penny realise something.

'Dianne, darling. Where are Scott and John?'