Calendar Girls

Author's notes: This idea may have been done before but I thought I'd have a go at it.

Disclaimer: all characters belong to Marvel/Disney and other respective copyright holders.

This may come as a bit of a surprise: unbeknownst to everyone else on the team, Steve keeps a stash of Esquire magazines from the '40s discretely tucked in a shoebox under the bed of his one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn Heights. He had been waking up around two or three a.m. several nights a week and found himself needing something to occupy his mind. Drinking alcohol was out, so he attempted playing Solitaire by himself but quickly grew bored. He sometimes sketched but his mind would wander to unpleasant, depressing memories. He had amassed an impressive collection of records—Glenn Miller, Louis Prima, Benny Goodman—but didn't dare play them at that time of night lest he disturb the neighbours. S.H.I.E.L.D had gifted him with an iPod but he hadn't used it once, preferring to use the 1940s RCA Victrola he tracked down at a flea market in Hell's Kitchen one Saturday.

It was on one of those Saturday visits to Hell's Kitchen that he discovered a vendor selling stacks of vintage—to everyone else, at least—magazines; the tables piled high with old issues of LIFE, Collier's, and The New Yorker. Behind a column of The Saturday Evening Post, he spotted numerous copies of Esquire and sheepishly glanced away. The covers were benign enough, usually just stating the articles contained within, and he was well aware that the women depicted in the magazine's art were considered tame by today's standards. The first time he saw a girl walk down the street in denim shorts cut so high that she may as well have just been wearing a belt caused him to blush and nearly collide with a telephone pole. Still, he couldn't face another night alone, staring at the ceiling and waiting to fall back to sleep. He picked up the first six issues in the pile, paid, and stuck the goods under the bed, still in the brown paper bag, upon his return home.

As usual, he woke up that night. Rolling over on his side, he saw the analog alarm clock—no new-fangled digital clock for him, thank you very much—read ten minutes past two o'clock. He lay in darkness for a few minutes, trying not to recall any of the terrifying images that ran through his mind: Nazis…Bucky's death…Peggy. He dreamed about her the most; she'd tell him to pull himself by his bootstraps and live his life to the fullest because she believed in him. He'd read somewhere that the current population numbered six billion. There must be a woman somewhere out there who'd teach him how to dance, however much he wished Peggy had been able to give him his first lesson. Flicking on the bedside lamp, he reached under the bed and pulled out the paper bag full of Esquires.

He selected the first issue, June 1941, and made no pretenses about reading the articles (those could always wait until later), choosing instead to flip through the pages until he found the centerfold art. Alberto Vargas, one of the most prolific pin-up artists of the era, frequently contributed to Esquire. This issue featured a model dressed as a bride: white satin dress cut in a sweetheart neckline with ample cleavage on show, skirt pushed up to the crotch and the stockings on her crossed legs about to be removed, judging by the way she was depicted tossing a matching satin shoe onto the floor. The satin clung to every curve and he found himself wondering how it would feel to touch, to gently pull the fabric off her.

The next issue, November 1941, featured a smiling Blonde in a sheer black negligee. Lying on her front, her breasts weren't fully exposed but her full bottom looked spectacular on display. He noticed the caption—"Oh General, I bet you tell that to all the spies!"—and grinned. Well, once the blushing subsided, of course.

Miss June 1946 was a honey blonde in a cream slip, smooth as satin and molded to her body, decorated with tiny blue polka dots. She looked as though she had launched herself into a pirouette, her long curls flying and bouncing.

He decided that he had a particular fondness for Miss June 1943. Dressed in a sheer black leotard, the fabric stretched across her breasts with budding nipples. The platinum blonde had her eyes closed, head thrown back, and her back arched with feet tucked underneath her buttocks. The August 1944 centrefold featured yet another blonde perched on a surf board but her tricolour bathing suit really caught his attention. He imagined her soaking wet from the sea and wondered if he'd be able to taste the salt on her lips. He felt the heat move from his face to between his thighs and considered putting the magazines away. Bucky probably would've called him chicken, though, so he decided to see the final issue.

Miss January 1943 made him forget all about Misses June, February, November and August. She was by far the best of the lot, he decided. A petite brunette dangled a war medal with one hand, propping up her head with the other. She was nearly nude, her lacy negligee so sheer it seemed to blend into her skin. She wasn't quite as pale as porcelain; her skin tone appeared to have a golden glow, and her hair was pulled up and away from her face with a white bow. Of all the smiles the pin-up girls wore in these paintings, hers was the sweetest, the most alluring. He could swear he could see just a hint of nipple behind her elbow, but maybe he was just imagining things.

He suddenly felt very warm, relaxed; slightly fuzzy. Lethargy began to set in. Glancing at the clock, he realised it was nearly four in the morning. These girls were far more distracting than he had anticipated. With one last glance at Miss January 1943, Steve returned the magazines to the paper bag and pushed it under the bed. He felt himself falling asleep, more relaxed than he had been in a long time. Just before drifting off, he remembered it was Saturday. He resolved that after a few hours' rest, he'd buy the entire stock of vintage Esquire magazines available at the market.

He had a lot of catching up to do, after all.