Disclaimer: I don't own White Collar
Summary: Hughes has been in the business long enough to know that sometimes rules need to be bent or broken to get the job done.
Reese Hughes is a disciplined man, and believes in order over chaos, rules and precedent to direct himself and his division in the correct direction and the proper implementation of law over taking matters into your own hands.
Neal Caffrey, by his mere existence in the White Collar division, breaks every one of his rules.
It had violated his principles to agree to Peter's proposition that the conman be hired as his CI. He could only see this strange liaison ending with Caffrey back in prison and Peter's career hanging on by a thread, if not irreparably destroyed, his credibility shot to pieces by Caffrey's unorthodox and inappropriate methods.
He is not wholeheartedly embraced by the honest, hardworking members of White Collar. Few react to his presence with outright hostility, and most treat him with indifference, and do not seek him out. Only a select group value his company. Foremost is Peter, for although they mix together like oil and water they always, improbably succeed in compromising in their differing beliefs long enough to gain a reputation for having a nearly unparalleled closure rate.
He might have resented Caffrey's contribution in these instances, where it appeared that the felon was smarter than the trained agents he had so deftly eluded, but results speak for themselves, and Hughes trusts Caffey at least as far as Peter is concerned. He has a clear respect for his handler that he does believe to be in any way feigned. It is not overt, he does not truly seek to ingratiate himself with Peter beyond the simple charms he was immune to. He is, for lack of a more fitting term, himself with Peter, and that cannot be a bad thing.
They might think he doesn't notice how often their information comes courtesy of Caffrey's felonious friends, although he hopes Peter at least has not written him off as a senile old man who should have taken his retirement and liked it just yet. He allows it, and allows them this deviation from policy. They do not negotiate with criminals, but alleged criminals are a different kettle of fish, and reassured, he looks the other way.
He gives a good show but at the same time makes no secret of his distaste for the ball and chain attached to his ankle. He may not have resisted arrest on either occasion or be anything less than amicable with a side helping of dry sarcasm to those he works with, but he resents the restrictions they take for granted. They do not see them as the restraints they are, for they believe in order and the way things are done. Neal believes in finding the best way to solve a problem, and no amount of chastisement will stop him doing what he believes is right, perverse as it might be to have him be preaching rightness. Again, he allows it, because as much as he might want to disregard protocol and close a case his own way, he has an example to set.
Neal Caffrey does what they cannot, what he cannot. Hughes doesn't let on, its just a small con, and worth it to keep his people safe and where they belong.