It's been a while when Steve finally notices Bucky looking at him weirdly.
Steve sits up, clearing his throat. "What?"
"You've been staring at Stark for the past forty minutes, stopping occasionally to sigh," Bucky tells him, in a thankfully quiet voice. His mouth twitches, and Steve kicks him under the table.
"Shut up, no I haven't," Steve scowls, and he has to stop himself from rubbing the back of his neck. Bucky knows all his nervous ticks, he'd rat Steve out in a second. "I- I've been doing stuff."
"Yeah? What stuff?"
Steve taps his sketchbook. "Drawing."
Bucky snorts. "You telling me that if I lean over, I'm not gonna see a sketch of Stark working on his tablet like he's doing on the other side of the room? The place you've been staring for a creepy amount of time?"
Steve tries to think of a comeback. "Shut up," he says eventually, curling his arm protectively around his sketchbook.
Bucky eyes him for a few seconds before snickering softly. "Jeez, Steve. You got it bad."
"That's a stupid saying."
"Most of the sayings nowadays are stupid," Bucky allows. "Doesn't mean it ain't true."
Steve rocks sideways with the motion when Bucky claps him on the shoulder with his metal hand. "I really haven't missed you pining, it's pathetic. You get these big doe eyes."
"I do not," Steve says, trying to find a way to narrow his eyes without looking stupid. When Bucky's snickers get louder, he gives up on it and leans back in his chair. "Fine. I've got it bad. And somehow it's even worse than it is when it was with Peggy, it's- I make even more of an idiot out of myself."
"I didn't even know that was possible," Bucky remarks.
Steve huffs. "I would kick you again, but I was just going to add that." He toys with the end of his pencil. "I am drawing him. I don't even notice I'm doing it anymore. I have entire sketchbooks just filled with him."
He looks to his side, and Bucky's face is pulled up like it does when Steve does something particularly pathetic. Steve groans, trying to keep it quiet. "I know, okay. I know. It's- yeah."
He hangs his head, and the metal hand on his shoulder squeezes comfortingly.
It's not like Steve went out of his way to be stupidly, pathetically, embarrassingly in love with Tony.
It just- it turned out impossible to not be, after a while.
After a while it started being normal for Steve to get annoying, queasy butterflies whenever Tony smiled at him. For Steve to break out in a sweat when Tony sat too close to him on the couch, when nowadays it took Steve over 20 miles of sprinting to break a sweat.
It started being normal, for Steve to get a dry mouth whenever his gaze lingered on Tony's hands moving over his latest project, for Steve to fall asleep hugging his pillow and pretend it's Tony, for Steve to obsess over how his lips would feel on his and smile like a goof when he starts thinking about him and daydream about Tony saying yes when Steve asked him out.
All this became commonplace, became another thing to work with, something else to move past.
Except Steve can't seem to move past it, just like the nightmares that stick around, the freezing feeling that he still can't shake sometimes.
He suddenly can't imagine a life without Tony, doesn't know how he coped before, never wants to go back to a Tony-less life. He wants Tony around, wants him happy and healthy and present next to Steve, even if Steve doesn't get to have him how he wants him.
Just as certain as he's stuck in this century, it seems Steve's stuck being in love with Tony.
Bucky, the asshole, starts leaving notes that read things like, 'ASK HIM OUT' and 'SMOOCH HIS REPULSORS OFF' in obvious places that Steve hurriedly rips down.
He even gets Sam and Natasha in on it, and suddenly Steve finds himself under attack.
"Tony looks nice today, don't you think," Natasha asks him one day, her lips barely moving.
"Could bounce a quarter off that ass," Sam adds, nodding seriously like he's reading something deeply interesting in the book he's pretending to read.
"I hate you both," Steve answers, and stubbornly doesn't look at Tony's ass for the entire day.
At breakfast, Steve bumps into Tony and says, "Sorry," and Tony makes a vague noise, eyes lingering on something over Steve's head.
Steve follows Tony's gaze and balks. Another of Bucky's notes: this one reads 'KISS THE MORON, STEVEN STUPID ROGERS,' and Steve jerks forwards to rip it down.
"Sorry," Steve says again. He tries to laugh. "Uh, Bucky's an idiot, he thought it'd be funny to-"
Tony kisses him.
Steve grunts, and then starts kissing back once his brain reboots. It's a good kiss, better than what he imagined kissing Tony would be like, mostly because it's actually happening.
He cups Tony's face in his hands, because he's not sure what's going on but he's wanted to touch Tony's face like this since forever. Tony's face fits nicely between his palms, his stubble rough against Steve's thumbs as he strokes them down his cheeks.
Tony hums, a soft, pleased noise, and Steve can't help the silly smile in reply.
"Well," Tony says when they part for air. "That answers that question, I guess."
"Yeah?" Steve is trying to concentrate on things that aren't Tony's eyelashes. Or his newly wet mouth. "What question?"
"Whether Bucky was being a lying asshole when he told me you have sketchbooks full of pictures of me that you drew without noticing while you were pining over me."
Steve blinks. "Bucky is an asshole," he decides. "Not a lying one, though."
Tony's smile is- god, everything Steve wants to look at for the foreseeable future.