Disclaimer: All characters and places belong to ASP. No money. Don't sue.

Rated: PG

Spoilers: Story Follows Jess after he goes into the diner at the end of A Family Matter

Summary: An old Hardware store pays Jess's subconscious a visit. Ficlet

A/N: Putting this up the flagpole to see what happens.

Photo Ghosts

He flung the door opened and rushed into the dim diner, still shivering. His breath shook as he locked the door behind him.

He turned slowly and surveyed the empty establishment, memories flooding him with every inch his eyes scanned. He could almost hear dishes clink and Luke yelling at him. Lorelai's ridiculous demands for coffee and caffeine. Rory saying hello.

Rory.

He shook his head quickly and climbed the old staircase to the apartment. Out of habit, he started for his old bed, but caught himself halfway there. he didn't have the right. Not anymore.

He turned and plopped down on the couch, doing his best to get comfortable, though he knew it was hopeless.

Hell, at least it was warm.

He stared at the ceiling, counting specks until he fell asleep.

And when he awoke, what seemed like only a few moments later, he was assaulted by sunlight.

He groaned and tried to roll over, but wound up on the floor with a heavy "Thunk." He sighed and pulled the skull cap that was already hanging by a thread from his head. After a few moments, he got to his feet, and made his way out of the apartment and down to the diner.

But when he reached the bottom of the steps, it wasn't a diner he was greeted with.

No, siree, Bob.

He entered slowly, and looked around, feeling incredibly confused.

There were no tables. No chairs. No pastry case.

There were, however, shelves. free-standing ones. Filled with... well, all sorts of things. Nails. Hammers. Ball bearings.

Then he realized.

Hardware store.

Things were starting to make sense.

Except... not.

"Well, well, well. Look who's dreaming."

He glanced at the owner of the voice, and jumped back a little. He'd only ever seen this man in old photo albums.

He was pretty old. Maybe Richard and Emily Gilmores' age. Maybe a little older. Thin. Kind of tall. Gray hair. Worn jeans and a plain t-shirt.

He knew exactly who the older man was and he wasn't quite sure how to take it.

"Well, let's get a look at you," the older man said, taking a step forward, looking him up and down. "Could use a haircut."

He furrowed his brow and put a hand through his dark, unruly mass of hair.

"Oh, Bill," said a new voice. "Leave the kid along for Pete's sake."

He turned and was faced with a woman. He'd seen her before as well. A woman. Graying blond hair. Kind face. Jeans and a t-shirt as well.

"Well, aren't you something," the woman smiled.

The older man, Bill, rolled his eyes. "Susan..."

She ignored her husband and hugged the younger man in front of her briefly before pulling back and smoothing out his hair a little. "I knew I'd have beautiful grandbabies one day."

He remained silent, trying to comprehend what was going on.

Bill walked over and gripped his shoulder affectionately. "Time to go, Jessie."

He gave them a confused look.

Susan smiled.

He woke up on the couch again, this time in the darkness.

He turned over and tried to go back to sleep, but found it harder than before.

END