Notes: This is going to be a collection of short snapshots centered around Larry, Balki, Jennifer, and Mary Anne, spanning across all seasons, including some post-series. Some of these will also be based off of episodes, but some will not.
This first piece takes place around Season 4-5ish, and was inspired by Day 2 of Inktober's prompt: Mindless.
It had been Balki, naturally, who had spotted the tiny, retro-style diner that had been nestled and hidden among the larger, flashier eateries. He had been drawn to it immediately, insisting that it reminded him of something right out of Happy Days. The others humored him; it looked quaint and inviting, anyway, and even the old jukebox seemed to be inviting the four as they peeked inside.
It wasn't a very busy place; there were a few other people besides the cousins and their dates, each taking a turn selecting a song from the jukebox. Though the diner was retro, the jukebox did seem to have contemporary selections in addition to oldies.
They ate and just sat and chatted for a while, idly listening to the music as they talked. Even though they had finished eating, they weren't being shooed out the door. If anything, it was as though they were being welcomed to stay longer.
"I love this place, Larry," Jennifer gushed, giving his hand a squeeze. "How come we didn't know about it before?"
"I guess it's just one of those well-hidden gems," Larry shrugged. He went slightly red as Jennifer grabbed his hand. "But, hey—we found it now. Well, Balki found it." He glanced at his cousin. "Good job, Buddy."
"Thank you, Cousin," Balki grinned.
"It really is lovely here," Mary Anne agree, smiling at him, too. "Thank you for finding it, Balki."
"Oh, of course you're welcome…" Balki trailed off as a new song came on the jukebox—a slow song, with an acoustic guitar taking the forefront. "Oh, listen to that! Such a beautiful song!"
"…Balki, that's 'Dust in the Wind,'" Larry informed him.
"Oh, well, it's beautiful—and perfect to dance to!" Balki stood up and extended a hand to Mary Anne. "Shall we?"
Jennifer and Larry watched, incredulously, as Mary Anne eagerly got to her feet and accepted Balki's hand.
"This… This isn't a song you dance to!" Larry protested.
"Well, certainly not with that attitude!" Balki scoffed.
Larry and Jennifer watched on in amazement as Balki and Mary Anne began to slow dance to the song. The other patrons also seemed to be watching with a mix of amusement, though one of them gave a combination of a nod and a shrug as if to say, "You do you."
"…That's 'Dust in the Wind,'" Larry said again. "One of the most nihilistic songs about the inevitability of death and how nothing lasts forever… And they're just dancing to it without a care in the world?"
"…You know, it almost makes me a little jealous," Jennifer admitted. "Mary Anne doesn't carry the worries and baggage that I usually do. …Guess you and Balki have the same dynamic." She sighed. "Why can't you and I be as laid-back as Balki and Mary Anne?"
"Well, someone's gotta keep those two on their feet. It may as well be us," Larry added. "There's still so much about the world that Balki doesn't get—or maybe he just doesn't want to get it. He dives right in and lets himself go without thinking about it."
"But have you ever let yourself go like that and enjoyed it?" Jennifer wondered.
"On the rare occasions Balki talks me into it," Larry admitted. "A few months after he'd arrived in America, someone at his night school told him about karaoke bars…"
"…I see exactly where this is going," Jennifer mused.
"You'd be right," Larry said, though he did manage a smile. "I was content to sit and watch Balki sing, but, of course, that wasn't enough for him. 'Cousin Larry, this one is a duet—please, won't you sing with me?' Well, it was a weeknight, and it wasn't too crowded, and so…" He trailed off with a shrug.
"It must've been nice to be able to just let loose and not worry…" Jennifer sighed.
"…You know what? After the initial jitters, it really was," Larry admitted.
"What did you two end up singing?"
"…'Under Pressure.' He was Bowie; I was Mercury."
"Well, I was the only one who could hit that high note, so…"
"…Well, I, for one, am sorry I missed this," Jennifer stated. She got to her feet.
"…Jen? What're you doing?" Larry asked.
She gave him an impish smile and headed for the jukebox.
"Jen…? Oh no. Oh no no no no…"
"What's the matter?" Balki asked, looking over as he saw Larry run after her.
"I told her about the time we sang 'Under Pressure,' and now she wants a reprise."
"Oh, Cousin, that would be such fun to sing that again!"
"Nooo, I don't think so…" Larry said, glancing at the other patrons.
"Oh, come on, Cousin! What's the worst that could possibly happen?"
"He's right; it's a small crowd," Jennifer pointed out. "Actually, you can't even call it a crowd."
"Well, how about this?" Mary Anne suggested. "They'll sing along to 'Under Pressure' if we sing along to 'Dancing Queen' like we did at the airline talent show!"
"What!?" Jennifer exclaimed, her hand freezing over the jukebox.
"Well, well, well…" Larry mused. "I'm sorry I missed that."
She gave him a look, but then her expression softened with a shrug.
"…It's only fair…" she admitted.
"Well, then—ladies first," Larry said, moving for the jukebox.
"Nuh-uh," she said, gently pushing him aside. "This was my idea."
Larry made another attempt for the jukebox, but Jennifer slipped in front of him, placed a quarter in, and selected "Under Pressure."
"Sing your heart out," she teased, as the bassline filled the diner. "That is, if you think you've still got it."
Those were the magic words; from the look on Larry's face, the challenge had been accepted.
And it didn't end with just "Under Pressure" and "Dancing Queen," no; it soon was one song after another as the night grew on and the other patrons treated themselves to the impromptu show—and any and all anxieties were temporarily forgotten.