Peter hates paperwork.
Well, that's a lie. Nobody loves paperwork, but Peter doesn't really mind it. It kind of zens him out, which is especially welcome when a case is stressing him out, and besides he likes it when things are ordered and above-board. Endless requisitions and leave requests and field reports are not his favorite thing to do on a Friday, but it could be worse. Like chasing bad guys who will inevitably make him late for dinner and a well-deserved night in with your wife. So paperwork, on this Friday afternoon, is not altogether unwelcome.
Today, Peter wishes he was out chasing the baddest of bad guys, even in the ninety-degree weather and these new shoes that pinch a little, even if most cases his team is working on right now are either cold or tedious. He'd do it. He'd do anything not to be sitting at his desk, reluctantly poring over FBI staffing form 2278-1 for the addition of a certain Neal Caffrey, employee 4787790, to the White Collar Crime Unit.
Mostly because they’re using the term "employee" very loosely.
"Why me," Peter gripes again, scribbling his signature next to a little neon flag.
Hughes chuckles, sitting across from him steepling his fingers animatedly, the way he does when he's pleased about something. "Because they're not going to risk running this pilot program with something like Violent Crime. If Caffrey ends up solving a couple mortgage frauds or catch a few art forgers, the project might be deemed workable enough to expand to more high-profile units."
Peter likes his little low-profile unit. Partly because it isn't usually subjected to crap like this.
"Can we stop calling it Caffrey or Neal or even employee number 4787790 and stick to calling it CCSU-214, model..." He looks at the paper in front of him. "... WC1?"
"White Collar One," Hughes says, letting the front legs of Peter's guest chair tip back to the carpet. "He's yours by definition. And you best start calling 'it' he before things get awkward. He starts on Monday."
"I couldn't care less if I make a robot awkward, Reese," Peter says pointedly.
"Play nice," Hughes warns, standing. He taps a finger on the thick binder he'd dropped on Peter's desk earlier. "Read up on this tonight. He's pretty self-sufficient and you shouldn't have to do anything to or with him that you wouldn't have to do with a regular agent, but wouldn't hurt to read the ethical and financial or even the maintenance stuff. It's pretty neat."
Peter looks at him in disbelief. He doesn't think he's ever heard Hughes say the word neat. "Why are you so pleased about your unit getting used as a guinea pig?"
"A guinea pig for a robot program," Hughes says gleefully, like that answers Peter’s question. But Hughes loves gadgets; it figures that he'd be psyched about this. "Agent Burke, this thing's been programmed to think like a white collar criminal. If your case resolution doesn't hit at least ninety percent within a month, feel free to throw this back in my face."
Peter avoids the basement of Federal Plaza like the plague. Records is here, and Records folks are a little bit crazy around the eyes. There’s Evidence too, and Mechanical, and the fleet desk, all home to assorted flavors of FBI's Most Unwanted, who apparently don't need daylight to exist. It isn't exactly swinging light bulbs and dark corners down here, but even brightly-lit hallways and shiny floors don't make the slightly claustrophobic basement level fun to visit on a Monday morning.
Just past the elevator bank, Peter stands in front of the floor listing with one hand propped up on his hip above his badge, eyes going down the list until he gets to the name given to him by Hughes.
M. Haversham - Room B1241
He sighs and starts down the hallway marked B, keeping an eye on the ascending numbers on the doors he passes. He turns a corner and finds 1241, a non-descript gray metal door labeled Robotics. Peter purses his lips and knocks.
An undecipherable shout comes from within. Peter, unsure whether that was a ‘come in’ or not, is about to let himself in when the door swings inward, held open by an attractive young man in a smart suit.
“Morning,” the man says with a winning smile and eyes that could only be described as sparkling. The guy also touches the tip of the old fashioned hat perched on top of his head, and somehow the motion comes off as gentlemanly rather than… well, crazy.
“Hey,” Peter manages, recovering from having been momentarily thrown off guard. “Agent Haversham?”
“In here!” comes the same slightly shrill voice as before, and a shorter bald man in a lab coat scurries over. The younger agent steps back easily and lets Haversham pull Peter in, closing the door behind them. “Sorry, classified work,” he mutters, leading Peter further into his… office. Lab. Workshop. Mess. Peter’s not sure what to call it.
“Right,” Peter says, distracted, eyeing the mess of components and electronics littering the room. He’s dimly aware of Haversham’s guest eyeing him, standing a respectful distance back with his hands in his pockets and that killer smile still at attention. He has, like, a million very white teeth and Peter resolutely returns his gaze to Haversham, who fits more closely Peter’s idea of a robotics nerd.
“Special Agent Peter Burke. I’m here to sign off on CCSU-214-WC1. Neal Caffrey,” he adds, resigned.
“Yes! He’s ready and eager. Just sign here,” Haversham says, snatching a clipboard from the top of a mess of papers and thrusting it at Peter. Peter grabs the chewed-up ballpoint Haversham hands him and doodles a loose approximation of his initials at the bottom of yet another goddamn form.
“You’re late,” the other agent comments mildly behind him as Peter signs, and it sounds like it was aiming for non-committal and missed by about a mile.
Peter turns to him. “Look, pal, this isn’t exactly my idea of a fun Monday morning, so how about we just get this done so I can get back to doing my actual job.”
The young man nods, smile back at full wattage under the rakish angle of his hat. “Agreed.” He slips a hand out of its pocket and thrusts it at Peter, palm open. “Neal Caffrey, pleased to meet you.”