What about Hughes?

Special Agent Hughes remains an enigma on the show. In this story he interacts with Neal. This is my take on the senior agent. What do you think?

Time frame: Shortly before Front Man

Chapter 1

Two types of people baffle and disturb Neal Caffrey. Those who cannot be conned, and those who have no sense of humor. Special Agent Reese Hughes, glaring at him from across the table fit both criteria!

It was quite intimidating that the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Manhattan White Collar Unit known for his intellect, long field experience and no nonsense demeanor, held himself aloof from his unit's consultant. The senior agent's preferred method of interaction with Neal was through his handler Peter Burke.

Yet, Neal knew it was Hughes who had initially approved his release from prison and assignment to Peter's team. He had even discovered that the highly respected and decorated agency veteran had been the one who obtained the endorsement of the New York Field Office hierarchy. Hughes had personally requested the unique transfer from no less than the Assistant Director in Charge(ADIC) Paul Patterson. Patterson, the hard-nosed senior official, was well known for refusing unorthodox policy.

Why had Reese Hughes gone to such lengths? Neal believed it was the result of Peter Burke's brilliant game plan he had laid out to the senior agent. Burke had done his homework on felon/consultant precedent. He had argued statistics, work-release programs, high profile success cases and Caffrey's own expertise in the areas of forgery, counterfeiting, art theft and numerous other crimes.

Of course, the Dutchman case was the key! No one wanted Curtis Hagan's arrest and conviction more than Hughes. If it took a young, arrogant felon to help achieve this purpose he would attempt the experiment. Neal, free on a temporary basis, took the one chance and proved himself to the FBI. Hughes, a man of his word, gained the work release program for Caffrey.

Now Neal Caffrey sat in Hughes' office directly across from the senior official and reviewed the circumstances that had caused him to be in his present predicament. He had just been assigned as Hughes' assistant on the Bradley stock fraud case for an indeterminate time. He would be working exclusively with the senior agent for at least a few days. Neal foresaw a disastrous outcome!

Early that morning, Neal had stared in disbelief when Peter Burke broke the news to him. Peter called him into his glassed office and closed the door. "Neal, sit down," began Peter.

"I don't like this already," replied Neal as he scanned his partner's face. What had he done this time? Or precisely what had Peter discovered that he had done this time. Glued Ruiz' handset to the receiver. Made copies of a paperclip and put them into the paper tray of the copier causing Lauren Cruz to go nuts trying to find the paperclip stuck in the printer! After all it had been a slow day yesterday….

"This is not about your crazy pranks yesterday. Oh, and by the way, if I ever find a post- it note placed under the eye of my mouse again so the cursor won't move I will personally take your fedora and smash it under my foot."

Neal grinned. "Okay Peter, I will not perform childish behavior on the job. What's up?"

His handler grimaced and replied, "You know about the Mortgage Fraud Surge. Our task force of resident agents has been working on it for several months. We have allegations that cover more than $100 million in loans procured by fraud and over 200 defendants charged. Our unit has been asked to assist local agencies in the casework and depositions of key officials. The higher ups have made it top priority."

"How does this affect me?" questioned his charge.

"I'm getting to that. Since myself, Jones, Cruz and several others will be working out of the office for several days with our people in the Long Island unit you and I won't be able to continue to work on the Bradley stock fraud swindle."

Peter continued, "Hughes feels we can't stop effort on this case either. It's high priority so he kindly volunteered to continue my work on it. You'll be his assistant."

Neal's face paled suddenly. "Wait Peter, are you telling me I am going to be working privately and intimately with Hughes? Ah, let's change this scenario to me accompanying you to Long Island and someone else helping our grumpy boss. Like maybe Lauren?"

"Nope," replied Burke. "You have the background on the case and the boss man agreed. Neal, try to be only half as annoying as you usually are and it may work out. Consider it bonding time!"

Two hours later Peter Burke was standing by the elevator getting ready to leave the building. Both Jones and Cruz were by his side. The two junior agents were both openly smirking as Neal tried once again to avoid his new assignment.

"Peter, a felon/consultant is not a good choice for Hughes. Why don't we rethink this idea?"

Peter Burke chuckled. "Look Neal, it was Agent Hughes' influence that got you released to me. He won't chew you up and spit you out. At least not right away."

Peter had an amusing thought as he stepped into the elevator with his junior agents. He pictured a Master Card commercial particularly designed just for him. The narrator's words played in his mind.

Catching a criminal red-handed during a caper-------------- irresistible

Being named lead agent in the White Collar Unit ----------- unforgettable

Seeing Neal's expression when left in Hughes care --------- Priceless(some things money can't buy…..)

Peter continued to chuckle as the elevator door closed.

Neal Caffrey turned and slowly walked to Special Agent Reese Hughes' office.