POPULARITY

Author's Note: This will be the first of a group of short little one shots that basically explains the first chapter of Sam and Harrison and their family in the park, in other words how they got to that point. The next one will be the wedding, then Clarence, and then so on and so forth…I hope you like them. If you have a guy for Brooke feel free to chime in, I'm not sure if I want Lilly/Josh or not so I'm open to suggestion.

THE ENGAGEMENT

"Are you sure about this Harrison," Brooke asked with a concerned look on her face as she set aside the law book that she had been casually flipping through.

"How can you even ask that," Harrison said back with a look of surprise and disbelief on his face as he stood up and started to turn away.

"Sorry, it's just that don't you think that this is all just…I don't know, kind of sudden," Brooke asked with a nervous and slightly guilty look on her face as she could tell how nervous Harrison was at this moment and the last thing on her mind was adding to that.

"The Coffee Shop is closing Brooke, it's where Sam and I used to always go to talk, we shared a piece of chocolate cake there the night before everything changed," Harrison said with an overwhelmed expression on his face as he stopped and turned back to Brooke as she looked up from her notebook.

"Ya lost me on that one," Brooke said with a lost look on her face as she started to continue to write as Harrison spoke but stopped when she couldn't fully wrap her head around what Harrison was saying.

"The night before you and Sam got partnered up in Biology and everything changed, there we were, sitting at our table sharing a piece of cake and talking about the pressures on women to look good and how they could never measure up to the image that the media gives us when I spaced out when you walked in, after that everything changed," Harrison said with an almost nostalgic smile on his face as he recalled that night before the first day of school.

"And that's why you think that it's time to propose to Sam, after dating for only a few months," Brooke asked with still a look of uncertainty on her face as she laid her pen down and pursed her lips in a thoughtful pose.

"Brooke, Sam and I have been together since we were five," Harrison replied with a look of such certainty on his face that Brooke couldn't immediately come up with anything to counter his good mood.

"Figuratively speaking you're right, though it's only been six months since…," Brooke started to say with a slightly hesitant tone to her voice before Harrison cut her off.

"We've talked and put that behind us Brooke, we agreed to move on and we have," Harrison said softly with a very serious look on his face as he slid his hands into his pockets and dipped his head to one side just a bit.

"Okay, I can see that I'm not going to change your mind…so what do you want me to do," Brooke said at first with an exasperated sigh as she threw her hands up in defeat and offered her help.

"Just keep Sam busy until Carmen and I are ready, Lilly would have chipped in but she's in New York trying to reconcile with Josh so…," Harrison said with a slight rolling of his eyes as he plopped down on the couch beside Brooke and slouched in his seat.

"Wait, I know something that's going to happen in your little group before Lilly," Brooke said with a surprised smile on her face before Harrison cocked an eyebrow and stared at her.

"Yeah…so," Harrison asked with a confused look on his face as he sat up in his seat and looked over at Brooke.

"It's just something new that's all," Brooke answered with a now more happy smile on her face as she picked her notebook up and flipped it to an empty page and then retrieved her pen and began to scribble down the beginnings of a plan.

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"Would you calm down Harrison she'll be here," Carmen said with a frustrated frown on her face as she watched Harrison pace nervously back and forth near the door of The Coffee Shop while she tried to put the finishing touches on the box that would contain one of Harrison's big surprises.

"I am calm Carmen, you see any nerves here, I don't think so" Harrison nervously sputtered out with a somewhat scared look on his face as he whirled around and tried to appear the epitome of confidence.

"Calm down man, you're making me dizzy," Sugar added with a slightly sickly look on his face as he stood up and laid a steadying for his sake hand on Harrison's shoulder.

"Sorry pal, it's just that I can't believe that this day is finally here, to be honest I've been dreaming about this day for quite a while," Harrison said back with an only slightly relieved smile on his face as he hoped that he had chosen correctly in not dressing up and wearing more normal clothes, hoping to throw Sam off as to his true purpose behind their meeting until the very last moment.

"I thought that women were the only ones that did that," Sugar asked with a confused and surprised look on his face while Carmen only rolled her eyes and shook her head, keeping her thoughts to herself for the moment.

"Close, you see they think and dream about their wedding day from the time that they're little girls, guys on the other hand nearly have a heart attack trying to first figure out how to ask the woman that he loves to marry him and then sit there and wait for her to answer, praying that she'll say yes," Harrison answered with a slightly less nervous smile on his face as he patted Sugar on the back and the two started to slowly walk away from Carmen.

"You know Harrison, not to be a killjoy or anything but…it took you your entire life to think of this," Carmen interjected with a hesitant look of approval on her face as she looked around at the now almost bare décor of The Coffee Shop. Where there had once been many tables and booths only one booth stood, the same one that Harrison and Sam had spent the last night of summer before their sophomore year of high school. The three had worked all day to clean the place up and make it look presentable as the construction crew had left the place quite dirty the night before. The booth had been moved into the center of the restaurant and a solitary light hung overhead. The rest of the lights had been removed intentionally so that all of the attention would be focused on that one booth.

"Well…okay no, this wasn't exactly the way that I've always dreamt of doing it but I can't wait any longer to ask Sam to marry me and besides, it's not about the overall presentation right, it's the thought and love that created it that matters," Harrison said with an almost labored flopping of his arms as along with his words his body language admitted that he was doing all of this on the fly.

"Sounds good to me," Sugar added softly with a still confused but hopeful smile on his face as he nodded his head and turned to Carmen.

"You are so lucky that she's in love with you," Carmen said with at first a rather stern look on her face before she couldn't help but grin as she pulled Harrison into a tight hug and did her best to keep from crying, just as Sam's car began to come down the street towards them.

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While Harrison and the others were trying to get The Coffee Shop ready for the proposal Brooke had the unenviable job of lying to her half sister. Though telling herself that it would be for a good cause comforted her. If all went well by midnight Sam would be engaged to Harrison and in to good of a mood to care about her part in it all. Sam had gotten off work and come home in a bad mood. At first Brooke had thought about just waiting for a bit and allowing Sam to calm down before she mentioned taking a trip to The Coffee Shop. But then she had remembered how sure Harrison had been before he left and she knew that she couldn't back out now.

"Hey Sam, how was…work," Brooke started to ask with a welcoming smile on her face as Sam slammed the front door shut and threw her coat down onto the chair next to it.

"I do not want to talk about it, I hate being the newby," Sam exclaimed with a very frustrated expression on her face as she stormed through the kitchen and ripped the refrigerator door open.

"What happened," Brooke asked with a concerned look on her face as she wheeled herself into the kitchen and checked her watch.

"Nothing…it's just that how am I supposed to get noticed if all I ever do is get them coffee and help fix their hair," Sam started to lazily reply as if she didn't want to talk about it before she suddenly became very talkative, catching Brooke slightly off guard.

"Well you knew that you'd have to pay your dues, work your way up the corporate ladder, this probably won't last to much longer before they let you report something," Brooke said back with an optimistic look on her face as she wheeled around the island so that she could directly face Sam as she pulled out a bottle of water and shut the door.

"I've already been there over a year Brooke, they're not interested in having me do anything other than proofread their columns and type them up for them, I swear if I don't get to do something soon I'm going to…I'm going to my room," Sam began to reply with a frustrated and somber frown on her face as she sadly picked at the bottle cap while leaning up against the refrigerator and slightly hanging her head.

"No wait, there…was something that I needed to talk to you about," Brooke quickly interjected with a nervous look on her face almost as soon as Sam willed herself fully back up to her feet and started to head off towards her room.

"Please Brooke, I'm really not in the mood for," Sam started to say with a frustrated and tired tone to her voice as she did her best to keep from becoming angry as she stopped at the corner and turned back.

"I'm thinking about quitting law school," Brooke blurted out with an almost frantic expression on her face, as she desperately tried to think of something that would give Sam pause and buy Harrison some time.

"What…I thought that law was your new passion, something that you felt called to do," Sam said with a surprised and somewhat disheartened look on her face as she stepped back into the kitchen.

"Yeah well, that's what I thought about cheerleading, and look how that turned out," Brooke said with an overly exasperated look on her face as she shrugged her shoulders and started to spin around but was stopped when Sam took a hurried step forward.

"But that wasn't your fault," Sam quickly stated with a guilty look on her face as she hurried around in front of Brooke.

"Or yours Sam, or Harrison's, it was just an unfortunate accident that happened to me, I've dealt with not being able to walk anymore pretty well I think, but…," Brooke stated back with a very firm and certain look on her face as she looked up into Sam's eyes before the phone rang. Sam reluctantly rushed over and picked it up after the second ring. At first Brooke thought that perhaps the person on the other end of the line was just an ordinary caller, but her prayers were answered when she saw Sam's face light up and then turn her shoulder away before beginning to speak softly. Fighting back the urge to smile, at both her level of excitement and anticipation of what was to come, Brooke maneuvered her chair out of the traffic lane so that Sam could get out of the house quickly.

"That was Harrison, he wants me to meet him at The Coffee Shop, he said something about that it was important and that I should hurry over, do you know what he's talking about," Sam asked with a curious but calm look on her face as she hung up the phone, closed her eyes for a second and smiled, before she opened them again and turned to Brooke.

"They're closing it down aren't they, Harrison probably just wants you there to reminisce about old times or to see if you want to try and save some small part of he place," Brooke offered up with a supportive smile on her face as she sat back in her wheelchair and looked up at Sam.

"Yeah, he probably wants to save the sign or something silly like that…okay look I'm going to go see what Harrison wants, don't make any decisions about quitting law school until I get back okay, and don't say anything to anyone else about this okay," Sam said at first with a kind of giddy smile on her face before her look became much more serious as she turned her attention to Brooke as she picked up her coat and headed back towards the door.

"Deal…just go before he gets worried," Brooke said with what she hoped was an apathetic and giving in tone of voice as she wanted to completely sell the lie to Sam before she left so that she would have no idea what Harrison was planning. When Sam stepped out and shut the door behind her Brooke sighed deeply, picked up the phone, and called Carmen.

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"Hmm…place looks deserted," Sam thought to herself with a confused expression on her face as she shut her car off and got out, looking around the otherwise empty parking lot. She thought about turning back when she saw that not a single light was on in the restaurant but her curiosity got the better of her and she slipped the keys into her pocket and pulled the door open. "Harrison," Sam called out with a slightly nervous and slightly concerned tone to her voice as she walked into the club and let the door shut behind her.

"Over here Sam," Harrison said softly from out of the darkness before the lone light above the one remaining booth was turned on by Carmen and Sugar Daddy from the back of the restaurant before the two slipped out through the back door.

"What are you doing Harrison," Sam asked with a confused smile on her face as she leaned forward a bit and looked around, seeing only darkness surrounding her boyfriend and their usual booth.

"Waiting for you…care for a piece of cake," Harrison said with a calm and casual look on his face as he pulled out a plate with a piece of chocolate cake on it and two forks as Sam slowly approached the booth.

"I guess…what's going on here," Sam asked with a confused look on her face as she sat down in the booth across from Harrison and took the fork that he handed to her.

"Nothing Sammy, just thought that you might like to have one last piece of cake before they close this place down, you know…for old times sake," Harrison said with an easy going and warm smile on his face as he stuck his fork into the piece of cake first and took out a piece.

"Okay I can handle that, but what's up with all of the cloak and dagger, you could have just asked me last night while we were watching the movie," Sam replied with a still confused look on her face as she stuck her fork into the piece of cake and got a little bit for herself, popping it into her mouth and chewing as she awaited his response.

"Well you know how McKenzie gets when people interrupt the movie, last time I interrupted she threw a pillow at me," Harrison replied with a fake look of fear on his face that caused Sam to smirk and then give him a poor baby look of sarcasm. For several seconds after that the two continued to slowly pick away at the piece of chocolate cake until it was all gone and Sam set her fork down and used her right index finger to scoop up some of the remaining icing.

"Almost as good as the one that we had that night before the start of our sophomore year," Sam said with a nostalgic look on her face before she surprised Harrison by reaching across the table and wiping the frosting that was on her finger off onto the tip of his nose. Harrison sat in stunned silence for a few moments, staring straight across the table at Sam as she stared straight back at him, a smile threatening to spread across her face. With Sam still unsure of what Harrison's response would be she was pleasantly surprised when he returned the gesture, wiping some of the frosting that Sam had missed on the end of her nose.

"We probably look pretty stupid right about now," Harrison said with a big smile on his face before the two couldn't help but laugh at the shared moment. When the laughter died down Harrison carefully reached across the table, scooped some of the frosting off of Sam's nose and then popped it into his mouth, smiling at the end.

"I'm not worried, besides if anyone sees us I can blame it all on you," Sam said back with a triumphant smirk on her face as she reached over and copied Harrison's action.

"Then maybe I shouldn't give you this," Harrison replied with a mock look of hurt and anger on his face as he scooted to the edge of the booth and reached around behind it, carefully and cautiously picking a package about the size of a computer monitor up and laying it on the table in between them as Sam pushed the small plate and forks off to the side.

"What's this for," Sam asked with an excited but nervous smile on her face as she took in the size of the box and the odd holes that seemed to be all over the box that was wrapped up like a Christmas present with a big red bow on top.

"Open it and see," Harrison answered with a calm look on his face though in truth his heart was beating a million times a second and he could barely control himself. He had to curl up his toes in his shoes to help keep himself from spilling the beans and ruining everything. With a cautious look Harrison's way she slowly undid the bow, making sure not to simply act like she was five again and rip it all apart, instead setting the bow aside when she was finished and then taking a deep breath. "I hope you like it," Harrison added with an odd look in his eyes, one that Sam had never seen before, as he put his hands underneath the table and squeezed his knees with all of his might to keep himself as calm as possible. As Sam started to tear away the paper she heard an odd sound coming from the box, a sound that she had never exactly heard before but one that sounded slightly familiar. Shaking off her misgivings she tore off the top of the wrapping and slowly unfolded the top flaps. When that was done she cautiously sat up in her seat and leaned forward, barely catching the nervous smile that was starting to form on Harrison's lips. When she looked down into the box at first she thought that she saw a black and brown blanket. But that was soon changed as the saddest face that she had ever seen looked up and straight at her. She sat silent and still as she tried to fully take in what the present was. She was still sitting silent when the puppy stepped forward and licked the end of her nose, getting a soft shriek of surprise mixed with a small giggle as a response.

"What," Sam stammered out with a confused and surprised look on her face as she shifted her gaze from the puppy to Harrison's face.

"It's a boxer puppy, one of my mom's friends dog had a litter and this little lady was the last one left," Harrison replied with a nervous but excited smile on his face as he laid his hands back up on top of the table before Sam nervously picked the puppy up out of the box and set it in her lap, being careful to not let it lick her face as it seemed eager to do.

"I don't know what to say, really," Sam said with a stunned tone to her voice as she was doing her best to not get attached to the puppy but every time that she looked down into her eyes she could feel her resolve ebbing away.

"Well she's only the first gift, check her collar," Harrison said with a noticeably nervous look on his face as he couldn't keep his left leg from bouncing up and down as if in a nervous twitch.

"Okay…I don't see anything…wait, what's…oh," Sam started to say softly with a confused look on her face as she lifted the puppy's head before she saw the small box that was attached to the dogs loose collar. She looked back up at Harrison just as he reached up and took the box off of the table, looking like he was about ready to either throw up or shout for joy.

"Open it," Harrison said softly in a voice that he didn't know how he had mustered it before he swallowed hard and knew that this was it. Harrison watched with baited breath as Sam slowly cracked the small box open, a small voice in the back of her mind was telling her exactly what was in the box and then shooting off a large barrage of fireworks in her mind but her fears were telling that voice to simmer down lest her hopes get out of hand and she get hurt. She opened the small box to reveal a ring with a small diamond in the center of a cloud of small triangular cut emeralds. The breath was snatched from her body in the moment that she caught sight of the ring, and unintentionally she squeezed the puppy hard as she reacted. "I know it's not a huge rock like every little girl dreamed of but it's the best that I could get without…but it's the thought that counts right," Harrison said with a scared silly smile on his face as he slid out of the booth and carefully took the small ring out of the box. A part of Sam wanted to ask him what he was doing but her body remained rigid as all of her muscles seemed to be completely paralyzed, all except for her eyes as they never left his, even when he dropped down to one knee at the end of her seat of the booth. "Samantha McPherson, you were the first real friend that I ever had, you've always been there to be both my conscience and my friend, I wouldn't be here today without you, while I was in the hospital Clarence asked me what my happiest Christmas memory was and I lied to him because I didn't think that I had one…but then I thought about it and what I should have said were all of the times that we spent the holidays together, they weren't complete until we had our eggnog and dared each other to stay awake all night and see Santa, before we'd wake up the next morning side by side on the couch after having fallen asleep at the same moment, when I was sick you were the one that I looked forward to seeing the most, when I thought that I couldn't take it anymore you were there, I came back for you, I admit I was jealous of George, I was jealous because he was the one that was holding you…kissing you, hearing your beautiful laugh and seeing your perfect smile, I wanted that place in your life more than anything, so badly that I had a misstep, I know I hurt you but I never meant to…when you and Jimmy, I thought that I had lost you forever, once again I had let my fears keep me from telling you how I really felt about you, from telling you how much you mean to me, I'm not going to let my fears control me any longer, I can't live without you Sammy, you're the yin to my yang, the Laurel to my Hardy, my biggest fear was almost realized twice and I won't let it happen again…so Sam, Samantha…my best friend through thick and thin, my soul mate…will you marry me," Harrison said softly but clearly with a look on his face that Sam had only seen once before, the day that she had found him in the hospital corridor after Clarence had a bad reaction to a drug, her heart had broken for him in that split second and she knew that if he hadn't of made it then she would have been lost as well. Sam sat on the edge of the booth's seat, staring straight into Harrison's eyes the entire time that he spoke, doing her very best not to tear up and cry, feeling it to girly, but when he finished she couldn't help the tears and she soon found herself trying not to create a tidal wave of her tears that would wash Harrison away. Several silent moments passed as the two stared blissfully into each other's eyes before Sam found her voice.

"Yes," Was all that Sam could manage at that moment before a wave of tears overwhelmed her as she let go of the puppy and rose up into Harrison's arms as he stood up at the same time and their lips met in the first of what promised to be thousands of kisses in the years to come. On her way down the puppy let out a yelp but landed on the floor safely and looked up at her masters and stayed silent. They only broke apart a few moments later so that Harrison could slip the ring onto her finger and then their lips met again as they hugged each other as tightly as they could. Sam was so engrossed in Harrison that she almost didn't notice when strings of white lights lit up the previously empty restaurant and a small glitter ball began to spin, casting a warm ring of color around the area. She only bared heard the opening bars of Unchained Melodies before Harrison led her out onto a small dance floor and the two danced the night away, forehead to forehead for the rest of the night, never noticing the small party that erupted out behind the old restaurant as Carmen and Sugar Daddy had been peeking in through a small crack in the doorway.

END OF ENGAGEMENT

TO BE CONTINUED WITH THE WEDDING

Odd Note: In the 2nd episode of the first season of Popular during her little interview about what popular means to her Carmen says that when she was 8 her older brother was the high school quarterback and it was the 80's. At first that seems fine, though if she was actually 8 years old in the 80's then she should have graduated before the others on the show. If she was 8 years old in 1989 then by the year 2000 she would have been 19 years old and graduated already, but as she turned 16 in the first season that would have put her as being born in 1984, just a little mistake that I noticed, or maybe I'm reading far to much into it all.

Side Note: I used a boxer puppy mostly because my older brother and sister in law have two boxers that they have as house dogs and they're a couple of pushovers, the dogs not my brother and sister in law, along with being two of the friendliest dogs that I've ever met and given their short coats and temperament I thought that they'd go well with Sam and Harrison. Btw, anyone have any idea what to name the puppy, she's a brindle(a combination of black and brown) boxer female puppy.