Disclaimer: I own nothing you recognise; you get the drill

Feedback: Much appreciated

AN: Updates for this may be slow, but I wanted to get this up before the new season started and I start openly contradicting anything that happens there

AN 2: My experience of the shows is limited only to what's aired so far in the UK on BBC 2 and a few scripts and synopsises I've read on the net; I think I've got the plots and character interactions down right, but if I write something that unintentionally actively contradicts something in the show, please let me know and I'll try to change it as soon as I can

AN 3: This chapter takes place at the conclusion of 'Distractions' and the beginning of 'Run!'; if something here doesn't quite match the way Meredith acted at this time, please let me know

Seeds of the Future

As she picked up the phone, Meredith swallowed anxiously as she went over once more what she had to say. She knew that she had to do this, of course- it was either do this or die- but that didn't mean she had to like it. Lying about her daughter's parentage out of the need to give the girl a parent was one thing- she'd long ago accepted the lies she'd had to tell- but lying directly to the man who'd never been the father in the first place?

It made no sense…

But she had to do it.

As she paced up and down in front of her sofa, a cigarette in her other hand, she kept on telling herself that; it was the only reason she wasn't just taking a chance and trying to show this bastard in the corner what she could do if she wanted to do it.

"Hello?" the familiar voice said on the other end of the line. For a moment, Meredith almost forgot why she was doing this- just to hear his voice again brought back all kinds of feelings she thought she'd put behind her- but she forced herself to stay back on topic.

"Um..." she said into the phone, trying to sound less uncertain than she felt. "You might not remember me. We- we haven't spoken in a long time, but... I just had..."

Noting a glare from the man standing in her corner, she forced herself to say what she was here to say in the first place.

"Our daughter just found me," she said.

For a moment, there was silence, until Meredith finally spoke again.

"Did you hear what I just said?" she repeated into the phone. "She's alive."

"Meredith?" Nathan's voice said on the other end of the line, incredulity evident in his voice.

Meredith smiled slightly; at least she was past the initial contact.

Now, all that remained was the lie…

"We need to talk," she said, pausing for a moment to wait for Nathan to reply.


Rolling her eyes, Meredith spoke into the phone once again, trying to sound impatient; if this wasn't authentic, she'd be in serious trouble.

"Nathan, are you still there?" she asked critically.

"It's… it's been fourteen years," Nathan's voice weakly protested on the other line. "I went to your funeral."

"Look, that fire-" Meredith began, before stopping herself as she stood up and began to walk towards the kitchen, unhindered by the man in the room; so long as she didn't try to leave, he wouldn't do anything to her.

Besides, right now she needed to at least pretend she was on her own while telling this extra lie to the man she'd once loved. More lies may not be the best idea right now, but it was all she could do if she wanted to keep her 'talents' quiet; she didn't want Nathan to reject his daughter because he regarded her as some freak of nature.

"It… it wasn't an accident," she said as she continued to walk. Someone was out to get me, and the police, they just assumed I was dead, so... I ran."

Once again, there was a brief silence on the other end of the line, before Nathan spoke once more.

"And our daughter?" he asked.

Meredith allowed herself a small, pleased chuckle at that; at least she could be honest here, even if everything else was a lie.

"Well, she's got an angel on her shoulder, that one," she said, allowing her pleasure at the life her child had found to come through as she sat down on a table in the main 'dining area' of the trailer. "She was adopted by a nice family here in Texas. She's sixteen now. And she's beautiful. She's got blond hair, like me… and she is smart, just like you. Maybe one day she'll run for Congress."

At that comment, there was a brief pause on the other end of the line, before Nathan spoke once more.

"The timing of... your call," he said, slowly and carefully, as though he wanted to make sure that there were no misunderstandings. "Two weeks before my election, that- that's not a coincidence, is it?"

Even as the words began to come out of her mouth, Meredith wished she could stop them, even as she knew that she couldn't if she was going to stop her visitor from making good on his threat.

He'd told her what she had to say, and she'd say it.

"A child born out of wedlock?" she said, trying now to sound colder than she really felt. "That's big news. You wouldn't want that to come out. Ruin things for you-"

"How much do you want?" Nathan asked on the other end of the line.

"Oh," Meredith said, pausing as though she wanted time to think of a decent number, "um…

"One hundred thousand dollars?" Nathan's voice broke into her train of thought, giving her the perfect opportunity to finish things.

"Yeah," she said simply. "That ought to cover it; I'll let you know where to send it."

With that, she hung up the phone call and turned to look at the man standing before her, a grim expression on her face.

"All right," she said simply, folding her arms as she looked at him. "I've done what you wanted; now, would you care to tell me why I needed to do that?"

"Simple enough, my dear Miss Gordon," the man replied, chuckling slightly as he raised one hand, flexing it slightly as he studied her. "I needed time to make sure that you weren't lying."

Meredith blinked in confusion.

"Excuse me?" she said, staring at the man before her sceptically. "What do you mean, you needed to make sure that I wasn't lying?"

"I'm afraid that the answer to that question is for me to know, and you to… never find out," the man replied, a slight smirk on his face as his left hand began to glow in a worrying manner. "Now then, let's just… take this outside."

Meredith barely even blinked before she suddenly found herself sprawled on the ground outside her trailer, staring up in shock at the man who had so recently been standing inside. A coarse of sweat covered the man's skin, as though he'd made some tremendous physical exertion, but he appeared to have recovered from it, whatever it was.

"Damn…" he gasped briefly, as he stared grimly ahead of him, Meredith apparently forgotten. "That damn… Japanese guy… was really good…"

Meredith didn't stop to question what that might have meant; she had a chance to strike back, and she was going to take it. Unconcerned about the fact that she hadn't done it on this kind of scale for ages- turning the stove on and trying to incinerate a man were not the same thing-, Meredith focused everything she was on the man in front of her, praying that she'd manage to get through whatever defences he might have erected to stop her- she was rapidly seeing that there was more to him than she might have initially suspected-, before she launched a burst of flame directly towards him, aiming for his face, determined to fry this smug bastard before he could finish what he'd threatened to start…

But it accomplished nothing; the man merely raised his still-glowing left hand, waved his fingers slightly, and the fire died out as though it had never been summoned.

"Impressive," the man said, tilting his head to one side as he looked at her, his tone of voice making it clear he hadn't expected her to be capable of that. "May I ask why you didn't do it earlier?" Then he answered his own question. "Of course; you haven't used it on that kind of scale for years, have you? You wouldn't attack earlier because you saw a chance of getting away without needing to use something that you don't deserve and can't control…"

He chuckled slightly as he looked at where Meredith lay on the ground, still staring in shock at what had just taken place. "Not that it matters, of course; you're still going to die."

"Who… who are you?" Meredith asked, desperate to get at least that piece of information out of this man before he did whatever he was going to do to her.

Raising his left hand to point at her, the man smirked once more.

"Call me Sylar," he said simply.

The last thing Meredith saw, as she suddenly felt the blinding pain of every molecule in her body apparently simultaneously deciding to become a liquid rather than a solid, was her killer's body suddenly shimmering as though it was taking on the appearance of something else; she thought that his new hair colour resembled her own…

Then her brain collapsed, her body crossed the line between being a solid and being little more than a liquid, and she knew nothing more.

As he studied the pile of sludge that was all that remained of the woman whose appearance he had just assumed, Sylar smirked slightly as he turned back to the trailer, leaving the sludge to be washed away by the rain and wind; it was late at night, so he was confident that nobody would find it in time to determine what it might once have been.

So far, at least, everything had gone according to plan. Meredith's conversation with Nathan Petrelli had confirmed pretty much everything she'd told him about their past relationship- his heightened hearing had even allowed him to confirm when she was lying to him beyond the lies she'd been ordered to tell-, her body had been eliminated with the minimum of fuss and attention- he'd already acquired firestarting, and so need to pick it up again-, and his new appearance seemed to be pretty much exactly what he was looking for.

Now all he had to do was hope that history played out according to what he'd learned after reading the files in that computer- which it had no reason to do otherwise, he knew-, wait for Claire to call Meredith once again, and then allow this new chain of events to unfold the way he'd planned.

You claimed you could always defeat me, Peter? He thought mockingly, his mind, as always, consumed by thoughts of his long-time adversary, the only superhuman whose powers could come close to equalling his own, as he accessed a power that was rapidly becoming one of his favourite abilities. Let's see how you manage without your little cheerleader in your corner

This wasn't going to be an easy plan to pull off- even with all his powers, it had taken him some time to assure that he'd covered all the variables-, but, if he played his cards right, it was definitely going to be worthwhile.

AN 4: Just to let you know, the next chapter jumps to the immediate aftermath of 'HTSAEM'; in this universe, Meredith's subsequent appearances in 'Run!', from 'her' phone conversation with Claire to 'her' meeting with Nathan were all Sylar in disguise. His motives for this deception? Wait and see…