Sakura had never heard him laugh.

Uchiha Sasuke was a man of few words, and even fewer expressions. To the untrained eye, he looked emotionless, cold no matter the situation or the company. Only those who had seen him in battle (and so few had lived to tell the tale) could claim to have seen his face marred with anything other than blankness, maybe a curled lip or hint of bared teeth. 

Sakura knew better. She knew that under the cool and controlled facade, just under the surface where his muscles pressed under the thin layers of skin, there was movement, life to be seen. But only if you knew how to look for it.

It was different when they were genin. He had not yet learned (despite the lessons his brother and the nation had toiled to teach him) how to lose his smile. Rare it was, showing itself in an almost imperceptible twitch at the corner of his mouth, a barely-there curve in the perimeter of his lips. Usually in response to some (often painful) mishap involving a bright yellow boy in a bright orange suit, but also in some quiet, serene moments when they three laid down in a patch of cool grass after a day of hard labor. His lips would relax from their semi-permanent scowl, spreading naturally, lazily into the tiniest grin. 

And his eyes- that was the key to mapping his emotions. So rare and beautiful and lethal they were, it was risky to even glance over them for a second. With time and long nights and whispered laments and promises, that became a risk long-forgotten. She could gaze at his eyes as much as she wanted, finding her answers when his face gave none. Sakura never troubled him for it— she was a doctor, and knew well it took time to rebuild unworked muscles. She rejoiced in the small flits of a grin that came and went, treasuring the image of them like a gift.

She had spent what felt like a lifetime watching him, and when he was too far to catch her sight, she relied on her recollections. Her labor of love became using  her finely tuned mind to file away the look of his fleeting emotional phases, recalling them at a moment's notice when she needed to know them again. 

Yes, she knew what to look for by now. But sometimes, in a secret, selfish way, she wanted to listen. To hear what it sounded like, unbidden joy from Sasuke’s mouth. She had never experienced it.

His mirth was quiet, expectedly so, never more than a harsh gush of air through his lips or a barely audible snort through his nose. It astounded her, when she was a young woman and the war and rebuilding was done and he was back in the village he had so gracefully returned to. 

No matter the antics of their blonde teammate, nor the walking disaster that was their erotica-reading sensei-turned-Hokage pulled even a giggle from his depths. 

Sakura found herself hungry to hear the sounds that would come from his amusement. As they grew closer, and closer still, she became even more invested. There came a point when she had seen the fullness of his true smile, heard the sound of sobs that rattled deep in his chest. And yet-

She tried everything, subtly as she could. Teasing Naruto, teasing Sasuke himself, being obnoxiously flirty or dramatic or anything she thought he might find funny. At most, she would receive a snort and fond eye roll in response. 

Still, time passed and they drew closer, the closest any two could be. Now she knew the breathless sounds he made in the throes of passion, the guttural groans and whispered tender nothings pressed into the cradle between her neck and shoulder. 

She lay flushed and breathless amidst her ruffled sheets, gazing starry eyed at the ceiling. There was a new, telltale soreness between her thighs and a delicious quiver to her muscles and it caused a grin to spread across her face. The object of her affections was gone from the room to retrieve water and so she took the opportunity to stand and search about the room for the remnants of her clothes. His belongings were thrown about as well, his katana near her dresser, a worn, unpacked mission bag just to the side of it.

She was reaching for a pair of lacy panties in the center of the room when the door opened, and she squeaked, eyes shooting down to her bare form. In the next moment she vaulted herself onto the bed, burrowing under the blankets.

When her head emerged from her coverings, she choked at the sight of a fully naked Sasuke standing frozen at the threshold. Her palm slapped audibly over her eyes and then she froze herself.

The humiliation settled in quickly and her face burned as she realized, he’s seen it all already you absolute spazz of a-

A breathy, husky sound filtered to her ears and Sakura dropped her hand. Her gaze was drawn to Sasuke, who was leaning heavily against the door frame, shoulders shaking and head tilted slightly downward. 

He was laughing. Lips spread in the beautiful smile she favored so much, eyes twinkling, his chuckles deepened as the seconds passed. 

“Don’t you think it’s a bit late for that?” he asked haltingly, each syllable hitched with the force of his mirth.

She sat still, entranced as he approached the bed, discarding the water on the bedside table. A strong arm wrapped around her waist, pulling her against a warm chest and she could feel the vibrations, the way his chest and abdomen moved with the force of his chuckles.

There was something almost a little awkward about it, a little rough about the edges, the sound of vocal chords stretching in a way they had forgotten how to.

Sakura had never heard, felt or seen anything so beautiful. Her eyes filled as she looked up into his smiling face and then he was no longer laughing, lips flattening into a small frown.

“Sakura?” he murmured, curling his arm more tightly about her, fingers stroking a tender path over her ribs. “What’s wrong?”

It took a while to swallow down the lump in her throat, to draw in a shaky breath. 

And then, she smiled, careless of the wetness slipping down her cheeks and the tang of salt water pooling in the rim of her lips.

“You have a nice laugh.”