I owe a sincere apology for such a long gap between chapters. I had actually started this one and wrote it slowly because it just took a while to come together. Lots of factors got in the way and I apologize for that. It's been a hectic few months. But here it is. The Belmont mission is a reference to the first Manifesto which included a cross over story involving horse racing (since I'm a horse racing fan) with my best friend who is also into the sport. So it may seem random but it's just a small reference to the first story, not to confuse anyone. Also, I took inspiration from the Alias episode, "Salvation", at the very end. Once again, I own nothing other than myself.

Chapter 9: Testimony Part I

"How do I look?" Jack stood in the doorway between the bathroom and bedroom and put his arms out.

I smiled at him and climbed on top of the bench at the end of the bed. "Come here". He walked over to me and I was able to be eye level with him.

"You didn't answer my question." Jack smirked at me.

"Because you know what my answer is. You look gorgeous." He was just wearing a suit but he looked so handsome. I reached over and adjusted his tie and smoothed out his shirt. He just stood there looking at me and spoke again, "Another question: Do you think the committee members will be able to tell I had sex last night?"

I gasped, "You did?" I teased.

He gave me an evil grin, "Yep. It was pretty darn good, too."

"Where was I?" I toyed with him.

He took my hands, "Well, I believe you were there, my dear."

I playfully smacked my forehead, "Oh, that's right." We both broke out laughing.

Jack wrapped his arms around me, "Last night was great", "It was", I replied.

After a few minutes, I took his arm and looked at his watch, "Oh crap, Jack, we need to go. Your hearing is in a half hour."

We showed up at the Ops Center in time for Jack to check his email and make some phone calls before he had to go into the hearing room. Senator Douglas and the other Disciplinary Committee members were in today to hold what would be part one of my disciplinary hearing. However, it wasn't for me. They were here to talk to Jack. Since it was his order I disobeyed, they wanted to ask him questions about the events of that night, the mission, and well, me. There wasn't going to be any consequence for him, but they wanted and needed to get all the information they could. They had already talked to Sydney and Vaughn very briefly about what happened. They would take his testimony into account for my hearing, which was the very next day.

As I walked through the rotunda, I was reminded of how much I loved being here. It was great to see everyone again and feel like I was still a part of the team, so to speak. Marshall seemed to be the most excited, giving me a hug, and anxious to show me pictures of his son, Mitchell, who was growing up so fast.

After talking to everyone for a bit, I went into Jack's office where he was on the computer answering some emails. I gestured to my watch, "It's almost time." He closed his eyes, "I know, I know. I need to read these emails really quick."

I sat down on one of the chairs across from him and waited patiently for him to finish. Just then, his phone rang:

"Director Bristow? We're ready for you." he heard from the conference room.

"Be right there." He looked at me. I stood up and he shook his head, "Brooke. Stay here. You can watch the feed from here."

I said, "Are you sure?"

He gestured for me to sit at the desk, so I got up and walked over to his chair and sat down.

"Of course."

Jack kissed me on the forehead, "I'll see you after."

"Good luck." I smiled as he left the office and I settled in behind the computer.

The hearing began not long after and the usual formalities took place between the committee members and Jack. They asked him about the mission, how it unfolded and then finally, how it ended.

At one point, Douglas asked Jack how he recruited me into the CIA.

"I didn't really recruit her exactly. I had asked Brooke to help us on a very simple op that was incredibly low risk. We had been short handed and afterwards, she did such a great job, I asked her if she would be in working with me." Jack explained.

"How far into your relationship was this?" Douglas asked.

"About 6 months in".

"And which operation was this?"

"It was at Belmont Park in New York, the day of the Belmont Stakes."

Douglas nodded, "Snatch and grab?"

Jack agreed, "Yes, it was incredibly low risk."

Senator Mitchell interjected, "And you felt that it went so well that you asked Brooke to join the CIA?"

Jack shook his head, "No, it didn't happen exactly like that. I thought a lot about it and discussed it with other agents before asking Agent Davis to join us. It was only then did I officially offer her a position."

"And how would you say she's performed?"

Jack didn't miss a beat, "Exceptionally."

The hearing continued and the committee members asked Jack questions about the mission in Virginia. He was so steadfast and brilliant and honest, especially when asked whether he felt my decision to disobey his order had anything to do with our personal relationship, which of course, it did not and he testified to that.

Finally, Douglas removed his glasses and I could tell the session was winding down. I didn't expect what happened next to happen.

"Director Bristow, we won't take up much more of your time. I'd like to end this session with a few questions about your personal relationship with Agent Davis. These questions are going to be slightly different from earlier and at this time, I would like the feeds to be turned off with the exception of the one in your office. I presume that's where Agent Davis is, correct?"

I sat up in Jack's chair and literally said, "What the?" out loud.

The last thing I wanted was anybody walking in while this was going on, so I got up, closed the blinds, locked the door and shut the light off.

Jack looked just as confused as he responded, "Yes, she is."

Douglas continued, "Good. Don't worry, there's nothing to be concerned about. I think you'd agree that we don't need the rest of the agency listening in."

Jack nodded and shifted in his seat. Where was the committee going with this?

Senator Mitchell tried to break the tension, "Jack, relax. We're not going to ask anything intimate. Don't worry. It's off the record."

"I'm just at a loss as to what else you want to know about our relationship, I've already given you the history."

Douglas spoke, "How would you describe your relationship with Agent Davis?"

Jack started to relax, "Since this is off the record, I can say that Agent, uh, Brooke and I are very close."

"I think everyone here knows you two have been romantically involved for some time now, right?"

Jack nodded.

I felt my entire face get red. This had to be one of the most embarrassing experiences of my life.

"Without going into details, how would you say your relationship has been affected by all of this?"

Jack looked down at his hands and sighed, "It's been..difficult. For both of us, but more so for Brooke since she was injured."

Mitchell interjected, "I think what we all are trying to find out is if for some reason the two of you ended your personal relationship, if it would affect your professional one."

Jack got defensive, "That won't happen."

"Which?"

"Either. Brooke and I are adults and professionals and we'd never allow it to affect our working relationship. I believe I've already been clear on that. As for your other question, I won't even dignify it. We have been dealing with this issue in our own way, but it's not ending our personal relationship, which, I might add, is much more important than our professional relationship. She's the second most important person in my life."

"How can you be so confident?" Douglas pried

"Because we respect and love each other." Jack answered softly. When he looked up, I could see how serious he was. He knew he was also talking to me.

"I'm not very good in these situations, talking about my personal life or emotions. But I will say that having Brooke in my life has been life changing, special, and rewarding. She means more to me than I could ever say and when I thought I had lost her, I couldn't deal with it. I can't imagine my life without her. I think that's all anyone in this room needs to know."

The room got quiet and the members all looked at each other.

"Well, I think we got everything we needed." Douglas looked around the room. "This hearing is adjourned. Thank you, Director Bristow."

Jack stood up. "Thank you, gentlemen for taking the time to meet with me."

I sat in front of the computer screen, frozen, for a few minutes. Any second, I figured Jack would be coming back to his office and I wanted a minute to compose myself. I never thought I'd ever hear him talk about me like that in front of his colleagues. It made me feel proud and happy, but most of all, loved.

Jack walked into the room and closed the door behind him. He stood there and looked at me. "How'd I do?"

Without saying a word, I got up from behind the desk and walked right up to him, wrapped my arms around his waist and held there.

"Thank you," I whispered.