When you're a teenage, ghost-fighting Halfa, you learn to divide your focus.
In the midst of battle you have to consider the strengths and weaknesses of your enemy, how your own strengths and weaknesses match against theirs, and a plan of action. You have to monitor any wounds you sustain, how they will affect your battle skills, and how you will explain them away to anyone not in the know. You have to pay close attention to and memorize any new weaponry, abilities, or tactics your enemy has. You have to be on the lookout from interference by others, whether it be oblivious parents or a vengeful peer. You have to make sure that not one civilian and the least amount of property possible is harmed or destroyed by the fight. And all of this is in addition to the necessity of planning what you need to get done when the fight's over and you're back to being human.
In short, being a teenage ghost-hunting halfa is the best way to learn how to multi-task.
Danny Fenton had learned quickly how to do all of this and more while fighting ghosts, but the habit of focusing on multiple things at once had become a part of him.
When his parents were talking to him about new inventions, he was wondering how he could steer the conversation so they simply told him about the invention instead of trying to demonstrate how it worked, when he could get Tucker to modify it so it didn't work against him, if he could get Tucker to modify it without his parents noticing, whether this would be the invention that helped his parents capture him while he was in his ghost form, whether it was time to tell his parents he had a ghost form, if it was possible for Vlad to get a hold of the invention and use it against him, if Jazz, Tucker, and Sam could use it in case they ever came in contact with a ghost when he wasn't there to protect them.
When he was in school, he was going over which classes he needed the most help in, when and how he could get Sam, Tucker, or Jazz to help him, what excuses to give his teacher if he had to leave, wondering if he could get into college with his grades, what college he wanted to go to, what he wanted to do when he grew up, if any ghost would attack the school that day, whether he could keep himself calm so he wouldn't punch Dash in the face, how hard it would be to hide his secret in gym that particular day.
When he was with Jazz he wondered what his mental health would be without her, what he would do when she left for college, how he would get around his parents without her help, whether there were really that many guys staring at his sister or if it was his imagination, when she would tell Tucker she had a crush on him, if she would ever learn that she wouldn't have to explain things to him a second time if she would just use smaller words in the first place.
When he was with Tucker he wondered when he started to think of them as brothers, when the next time they could play video games, just the two of them, would be, whether Tucker was jealous of him like he used to be, whether he'd told Sam about how Danny felt, when he would tell Jazz he had a crush on her, if he would really put up those 'blushy moments' with Sam up on the school website.
But when he was with Sam…
When he was with Sam, it was different.
He could focus on nothing but her. Sure there were fleeting thoughts, did she know how much he really cared about her, would she ever care about him the way he wished she would, did they really fit as perfectly together as he thought they did, would there ever be a time when she wasn't there to bandage him up, to cheer him up, to help him believe there was a reason he gave so much to the town. However, no matter what, after that first moment, his entire being focused on Sam herself.
The sight of her never failed to make his heart skip a beat. With her long, obsidian hair; her sparkling, amethyst eyes; the sarcastic little smirk she gave most people and the sweet little smile she reserved for him; the way her dark clothes perfectly contrasted with her fair skin; to Danny she was the epitome of beauty.
The moment she got close enough, he could smell her scent. She smelled like tiger lilies: wild and sweet. He could hear the thrum of her heartbeat. He loved to listen to the way she spoke, the sound of her laughter.
Sometimes he wondered what it would be like to hold her in his arms for more than the time it took for a friendly hug. He lived for the moments when he could 'casually' drape an arm around her shoulders, or when they were walking so closely the backs of their hands brushed. Sometimes he wondered what her lips would taste like if he kissed her.
But then he reminded himself to be content with their friendship.
He was completely of unaware of how obvious his attention was, oblivious to how it affected the girl in question.
Sam was incredibly attuned to Danny; she knew him better than she knew herself. It was her who had asked Jazz whether it was normal to Danny to always be slightly distracted when doing something or speaking to someone. It wasn't long before she noticed that Danny was never distracted when it was just the two of them. If they were with Jazz or Tucker, part of him was always thinking about other things, though it was a far smaller part than usual, but when it was just the two of them, he was completely focused on her.
And she loved it.
She loved when his bright, blue eyes settled on her form and didn't move. She loved when he unconsciously leaned forward when she spoke because it showed he was listening and, more than just that, interested in what she was saying. She loved when she caught the faint sound of a sniff as she moved past him. She loved when he would wrap and arm around her shoulders, just because she shivered slightly.
She loved all of it, because she loved him.
It was strange how easily she could sense his level of concentration at most times, but she appreciated the gift; it was the only reason she could tell the difference between how much direct attention he gave other people, and how much he gave her.
Sometimes, though, she wondered why? Why did he pay so much more attention to her than anybody else? Was it because she was special to him in some way? Because he thought she'd be upset if he didn't pay enough attention to her? Did he even realize he did it?
"Danny," she said. She'd been about to ask him something about the assignment they were studying, but the moment his eyes met hers a completely different question popped out of her mouth. "Why do you do that?"
The boy tilted his head and gave her a confused frown. His gaze dropped and he realized he had been tapping his pencil as he concentrated on his work. "Didn't realize I was doing it," he said, offering her a sheepish smile. "I'll try to quit it."
Sam hesitated. She had been talking about the way he instantly focused on her, the way his attention completely shifted from his work, his bright blue eyes immediately settling on her form. Sam recognized the moment for what it was: a moment of choice. The Goth opened her mouth to clarify her question, but hesitated again, and instead just nodded. She looked down at her work, resolving to figure out the answer to her question herself.
"That wasn't what you meant," Danny said. Sam looked up to see his blue eyes studying her face intently, as if he could learn what she had really been asking simply by looking at her.
"Yeah, it was," she said calmly.
Danny scoffed and lifted himself to his hands and knees, crawling over to sit beside her. "I know you, Sam," he said, "Just like you know me. So, what did you mean?"He stared directly into her eyes with complete focus.
Another moment of choice.
This time, Sam took advantage of it.
"You're always so distracted," the Goth blurted. "But only with everybody else. Never me. I was about to ask you why." Taking in her best friend's surprised expression, Sam continued. "I mean, usually when you're talking to someone or doing something you're thinking about a billion other things at the same time and I can tell because you're eyes aren't completely focused and you'll take longer to answer questions, but with me… with me your eyes are always focused and you're always paying attention. It happened just now, just because I said your name, you totally fixated on me. And it's not that I mind, I really don't mind at all… I just… I don't know why. And… I want to know why."
Danny recognized the moment for what it was: a moment of choice. He opened his mouth to answer, but hesitated again, and instead turned away.
"Forget it. It's not really a big deal. I'm probably just imagining it," Sam said quietly, embarrassedly.
Another moment of choice.
This time Danny took advantage of it.
"You're not imagining anything," he said firmly, "I do pay more attention to you, and I do always focus on you more than anybody else. I can't help it."
"You can't help it?" Sam asked; her frustration was clear in her tone. In her opinion, that wasn't really an answer. She leaned forward, trying to catch his eye. Sam knew he still had all of his attention on her; his head was tilted in her direction and his body was facing hers, only his eyes were averted.
Suddenly his face was no more than an inch from hers, his bright blue eyes piercing into her surprised amethyst orbs.
"No, I can't help it," he whispered, "I can't help it because I love you and whenever I'm around you there isn't a single part of me that doesn't believe you're the only thing that matters."
A deafening silence followed his statement.
Danny had never understood that oxymoron, never being able to grasp how the absence of noise could be loud. Now that he comprehended the phrase, he wished for the return of his ignorance.
Sam stared at him, hardly able to conceive that his feelings for her surpassed those of a best friend or close sibling. Seeing her blank, shocked stare, Danny couldn't help but wonder whether he'd made the wrong choice.
Taking her prolonged silence as a rejection of his feelings, Danny pulled away from Sam, scooting backwards along the carpet until several feet separated them. Trying desperately to keep the hurt from being heard in his voice, he said, "I'm sorry. That probably wasn't the explanation you were expecting." He listened to her clothing rustle as she moved, closing his eyes so he wouldn't have to see as she moved farther away from him, thinking there must be something wrong with his ears when it seemed she was getting closer.
"No," Sam said. Danny's eyes snapped open and he was surprised to see her directly in front of him, so close their noses were almost touching. "It wasn't the answer I was expecting. But you have no idea how happy I am that it's the answer I got."
With that said the Goth leaned forward and kissed her Halfa.
Danny immediately responded; his thoughts, always dulled to a murmur by Sam's presence, were completely silenced. They lost themselves in the sensation of the kiss, finally coming together in the way everybody but the two of them always knew they would.
When oxygen became necessary, the pair pulled apart. "What was that for?" Danny panted. Though surprised at the turn of events, he wasn't at all unhappy with them.
"I thought I'd help you get an idea of how happy I was to get that explanation," Sam laughed, "You know, out of the goodness of my heart."
Danny grinned. "Thanks for your generosity," he said pulling her into a hug. Sam nestled against him, resting her head in the crook of his neck. They sat there, on Sam's bedroom floor, reveling in being together.
"Hey, Sam?" Danny asked.
"Will you be my girlfriend?" He felt her smile against his skin.
"Will you be my boyfriend?" she asked.
"Yes," he said grinning.
"Then, yes," she said, snuggling closer. It was quiet for a while longer.
"You can take me to the movies on Friday, Danny." The Halfa laughed and fell backwards, settling them into a more comfortable position.
"I love you, Sam," Danny said.
"I love you too, Danny," Sam said.
He finally knew what it was like to hold her in his arms for more time than it took for a friendly hug. He finally knew what it was like to kiss her.
She finally knew why he paid her so much attention. He did realize that he did it and it was because she was special to him.
Neither could be possibly be more happy.