AN: Finally, an update that isn't three months in waiting! A bit short, but this was originally supposed to be a drabble series anyways. You can imply the P/A situation here.

Theme 22: Mother

The curtain fell between them the moment she was born. A precaution. The gods didn't have favorites; they never had.

As a girl, she figured she wouldn't mind much. So her mother was absent - never mind feeling unwanted, a feeling that seemed to grip her with both hands. After all, it was impossible to miss something you had never had...But logic wasn't comfort, no matter how much she wished it were.

Even now, as she watched his mother's face break into a smile. As the woman clasped Annabeth's hands in her own, eyes twinkling in the hooded glow of the table side lamplight, she couldn't help but wish someone else were in Sally Jackson's place.

"I'm so happy but...I really can't believe it," Sally laughed, sinking back into the sienna-curried cushions with admirable ease, "I almost thought I would have to have a talk with Percy before he got up the nerve to do it. Who knew he'd be brave enough."

"I know what you mean," she relented, watching with tired wonder as the steam rose from her teacup in bleary circles; a fog clinging to the marbled glass of the coffee table. Small talk. She could do this.

It wasn't that Percy's mother was someone she had a hard time talking to. In fact, it was quite the opposite. She had found herself revealing much more to Sally Jackson than she'd ever thought she would.

But it was painful. Because Sally was all that she had secretly wished for in her own mother - terms which had never quite been fulfilled, and a hope that she had retired long ago. Sally was a real person. A warm personality and confidante, whereas her own mother remained a distant shadow. A deity.

If she had made these thoughts visible, Ms. Jackson hadn't noticed, or at least hadn't said anything about it. Instead, she seemed to be admiring something, eyes riveted on the slighted view from the second story window; a likeness of the living room reflected poignantly against it.

"You know," she started, her voice traced with something that, though familiar, Annabeth couldn't quite place, "I've always wanted a daughter."

She was surprised, if anything, and was sure that it was easy for the woman to read. But...for all her anxiety, Ms. Jackson seemed neither shocked nor offended, simply quietly understanding. It was in that moment that she felt as if she had been looking at it all backwards. Wanting something she had known all along.

"Thank you Sally," and she smiled, beatific, for the first time that night, "You know I wouldn't have it any other way."