She returns home to find Jimmy leaning against his car, blowing smoke rings in the dim orange lights of the parking lot. Her stomach rumbles--she’d skipped lunch--and she was hoping for a quiet night in, reviewing case law so she’d be ready for meetings tomorrow. But there he is, throwing a wrench in her plans, like always.
She’s tired--who knew golf would make your arms hurt like you’d actually exercised?--and wants nothing more than to scrounge up something to eat and curl up on the couch. Normally, she knows Jimmy would be down, but there’s something in his stance, the set of his jaw, that tells her he’s here for something else. Kim throws it in park and gives him a wave, grabbing her purse from the passenger seat and her briefcase from the trunk. When she reaches for it, she feels her skirt riding just a little too high.
He’s absolutely going to say something about the outfit. Part of her is embarrassed, but she’s too tired to care. So it comes as no surprise when the first thing out of his mouth is: “I have a pretty active imagination but, I gotta say, this is something even I couldn’t dream up.”
“Don’t be gross,” she says, shoving his shoulder as she brushes past. But a smile tugs at the corner of her lips.
“So what is this? You moonlighting as a trophy wife now?” He gestures to her white athletic shirt and blue tanktop, her sneakers and visor.
“Uhhh, close,” she says, sweeping up the stairs.
“Is it Dress Like Barbie Day for the second-year associates?” Jimmy tries. “You guys have a spirit week, right? Clash day, 60s day, school spirit day…”
“Now you’re just being an asshole,” she sighs. They’re both a little out of breath as they reach the third floor landing, and a pleasant flush covers her cheeks when she catches him glancing at her legs.
“An asshole who needs to take a leak,” Jimmy says, and at least he has the courtesy to grimace. “Can I come in? Just for a second?”
Wordlessly, she opens the door, and as Jimmy brushes past her, her stomach tightens.
“So where were you?” he calls from behind the bathroom door.
She sighs, taking off her visor and letting it rest on the dresser. The tight band has left a dent in her hair, so she releases it from her ponytail and hums as the pressure on her scalp eases. “If you really want to know,” she says, massaging her temples, “I was playing golf.”
Behind the door, the toilet flushes. “Golf?” Jimmy asks.
She hears the sink running. “Yeah. Golf,” she repeats, her tone flat. She sits on the edge of the bed and unlaces her sneakers. “What, the Stepford wife getup didn’t give it away?”
“Just puttering around, huh?” Jimmy opens the door to the bathroom, shaking his hands dry. “By the way, that bathroom? A tub and a shower? Movin’ on up, am I right?”
“Jimmy, what—“ She stops, a frustrated growl in her throat. “Did you want something?”
“Yeah, I—“ He coughs. “I wanted to use your bathroom.”
She swipes a hand over her face, sore from the sun and wind today. “You drove all the way over here the night before your L1 finals to... use my bathroom?”
But as soon as the words are out of her mouth, she realizes what she’s done. He doesn’t have to say anything, but suddenly it all makes sense. His callous attitude. The fact that he was waiting for her when she got home, which never happens. His evasiveness, a quality she’s never known him to have before. Last week he’d finally taken her up on her offer to help him study, they’d set a date, tonight, and—
He holds up a hand. “Hey, what’d I tell you when you were studying for the bar? If you don’t know it by now...”
The words tumble out of her. “I was with clients. Jimmy, it was this last minute thing I got pulled onto, that Howard pulled me onto. He said he was thinking about making me second chair—“
Something twisted slips over Jimmy’s face, a mask she’s never seen. “Thinking about making you second chair? Kim, do you hear yourself?”
His voice is crueler than she’s heard it before but she continues.
“It’s the Peterson case. You know how hard I fought to even be considered for this.” Out of the corner of her eye she catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror. “Hell,” she sputters, “I ran to the goddamn sporting goods store on my lunch break and bought this stupid outfit.”
“Yeah, well, you certainly look the part,” Jimmy growls, walking past her, but he doesn’t head for the door.
She follows after him, too offended to be stunned. “What is that supposed to mean?”
“I mean look at you, you’re—“ He gestures.
“I’m what, Jimmy?” Kim shouts, hands on hips.
“It’s not a big deal, alright? You forgot, so what? You’re not my--” He stops himself and looks down at the floor. “Look, it’s a hell of an outfit, alright?”
“Yeah,” Kim says tentatively, not placated enough by his retreat. “And that’s all it is. An outfit. You think I liked being out there all afternoon with Howard and his cronies, rubbing elbows with these asshole clients?”
“I don’t think you hated it!” Jimmy retorts.
“Jimmy, this is my job,” she says, voice firm. “This is the job. Being a lawyer. Playing a part. The networking, the schmoozing, it’s all part of it.”
“I must’ve missed that day in Torts,” he says with a scowl.
“Will you listen to yourself?” she snaps. “Every ounce of respect Howard has for me is because I put in the time. In the mailroom, in doc review. I play by his rules, by HHM’s rules, that’s the way I have to play this. It’s a boy’s club.”
“You’re better than this, Kim,” Jimmy insists, shaking his head. “You don’t have to play their stupid games, you don’t have to sell out to them--”
“Sell out?” she scoffs. “I’m working to earn their respect. I don’t have a fancy big brother with his name on the side of the building, alright?”
“Hell of a lot of good that’s done me!” Jimmy shouts, throwing his arms wide.
“If you spent half as much time studying as you did flirting with me, your name would be up there too,” Kim huffs. She strides into the kitchen, hoping there are some leftovers in the fridge.
“I don’t hear you complaining,” Jimmy grumbles, standing firmly in her sparsely decorated living room.
“Jimmy, what do you want?” she snaps, slamming the fridge shut. “What--what is this?”
“What…” It is a strange sight to see him speechless.
“What is this?” she repeats. The question hangs between them. “What are we doing? Am I your study buddy? Am I your fu--”
“Don’t--say that, alright? Jesus.” But all the fight is gone from his voice, gravelly and tired.
Her head is pounding and she shuts her eyes. It was bound to happen sooner or later. There was no way their movie nights and study sessions and clumsy-turned-tender hookups weren’t going to come back to bite them. It’s undefined, it’s always been undefined, and for the first time in her life she feels like she has a plan.
“I think I’m gonna…” Jimmy clears his throat. “I think I’m gonna head home, finish studying there.”
“I think that is a good idea,” she says, choosing her words carefully.
“Alright then,” he mumbles, heading for the door. But he stops before he enters the hallway, hand on the doorframe. His back is still to her when he says, “You look like a million bucks, by the way. I didn’t mean all that stupid stuff I said before.”
The front door closes and she bites the inside of her cheek, setting her jaw so it doesn’t tremble.
“See, if you didn’t keep the water so hot, it wouldn’t do that,” Jimmy mumbles, his lips grazing the hem of her shirt where it falls against her thighs, red splotches blooming there from the hot water.
“Look, you shower with me, you get my water temperature,” Kim says with a shrug.
She strokes her fingers through his hair, shifting so his head lays comfortably in her lap. His eyes slip closed. After a minute he says, “At first I thought it was sunburn.”
“The country club today.”
“I--you thought I golfed? With Paige and Kevin?”
Jimmy peeks an eye open and looks at her. “Is that so hard to believe? You know how.”
“Yeah, but I haven’t done it in like, a million years,” she insists. “And I was never any good.”
“Oh come on, I’m sure you were a rockstar. Driving on the green, guiding the club with your sure and steady arms. Raising a gloved hand against the sun to see how far you’d gotten, your golden hair blowing softly in the breeze.”
Kim chuckles. “What is happening right now?”
“It’s… a fantasy Kim, go with me here.”
“Whose fantasy? Yours?” she smirks but a blush has begun to creep over her cheeks.
“Yeah, come on. The little white skirt, a slightly sheer top that matches your eyes.” Jimmy’s eyes are closed again, like he’s picturing it.
“Where are you getting this?”
“You have the outfit, Kim, I’ve seen it.”
She remembers. “Well I’m not putting it on, if that’s what you’re asking.”
Jimmy raises a hand. “Nor would I ever ask you to. I am but a humble pool boy, here to serve the refined elite such as yourself that come to this reputable establishment.”
“So, in this fantasy of yours,” Kim says, laying a hand on his chest, “I’m a… golf-playing trophy wife and you’re… the pool boy?”
He cracks an eye open, too charming to be embarrassed. “Come on Kim, you’ve never had a fantasy?”
“Uhhh, no,” she says curtly, but she can’t help the grin spreading across her face.
“Not even a tiny one? An image that comes to mind when you’re--”
“It’s--” She opens her mouth, closes it again. “No.”
“What?” Jimmy prods. His breath is hot on the top of her thigh.
“It’s stupid,” she insists.
“More stupid than the pool boy? Come on. Kim.” It’s me, his eyes say.
“It’s... the office,” she sighs finally.
“Oh, your office at S&C. Nice. Keep the blinds open, give everybody a little show.”
“No,” she says lightly. “Not S&C.”
“What--our office?” Jimmy frowns. “We were barely there long enough to stain the toilet, let alone christen the place.”
“Lovely, but no. Not our office,” Kim says now, slower and lower.
Jimmy furrows his brow. “Then… wh--” She can practically see his mouth go dry. “HHM? Your old office at HHM?”
“Not my office,” she whispers. Slowly, she starts to stroke his hair again.
“We could try… the mailroom? Or… the conference room? Maybe right before a big meeting.”
“Hmmm,” she chuckles. “We’d have to be pretty quiet. Are you sure you can manage that?”
Jimmy sits up now, propping himself up alongside her. “What do you mean, can I manage that? Can you manage that?”
Kim just gives him an impish smile.
“Better not do the conference room,” Jimmy says with a wistful sigh.
“Good,” Kim says. “Because I was thinking somewhere else anyway. Like maybe…” She trails off again, wondering if she can actually bring herself to say it.
“Don’t get all shy on me now, Wexler.”
“Do you want me to tell you or not?” she whispers, fingers tightening in his hair.
“Alright, alright,” he concedes.
“Well, it’s really late,” Kim begins. “Or early, rather. I’ve been working all night.”
“Bone tired, running on fumes. Got it.”
“And you show up first thing. You’re bringing me coffee.”
“Am I me in this scenario?” Jimmy interjects.
“I don’t want you to be anybody else,” Kim replies. She almost leans down to kiss him, but instead she continues. “So you bring me coffee. And you’re perky, and cheerful, and I’m almost ready to leave, but suddenly I realize. I’ve left a file I need in Howard’s office.”
The look of mock surprise on Jimmy’s face turns genuine the moment she says it and a little thrill runs up her spine.
“What were you doing in there?” Jimmy asks thickly, still playing along, though she can see the gears in his head turning, filling in a lot of the blanks already.
“Well I figured, it’s late. No one’s around. No one’s gonna know if I use Howard’s office.” She can’t look at him anymore, but she feels his energy beside her, thrumming and alive. Kim speaks slowly and methodically, but with care, like she’s telling a bedtime story. “So I go back in to get the file, and you follow me in there. And suddenly we both realize. It’s early still. The cleaners are gone. No one will be here for at least an hour. You with me?”
“Oh, I’m with you,” Jimmy rasps, reaching a hand to grip her thigh just above her knee. “Then what happens?”
“Then…” A smile twists her lips and she grins. “Then I bend you over Howard’s desk and have my way with you.”
“Aw, come on, no gory details?” Jimmy teases. “You were just getting to the good part.”
“We just did the good part,” Kim says, jabbing a thumb towards the bathroom. “Besides, I have an early morning tomorrow.”
She pries herself from his grip and heads to the kitchen to pour herself a glass of water.
“Where you going?” Jimmy pouts.
“Gotta stay hydrated,” she reminds him, lingering in the doorway. “What with all the hard work I did today. You know, out there in the hot sun, the--what was it?--the breeze softly blowing my hair?”
Jimmy flings a pillow at her but she yelps and dodges out of the way, stumbling through the living room with a grin stuck on her face.