A few days later, Will and Grace were going down to Yorkshire to stay with her grandparents for the weekend. Seeing as Grace knew the way without a map, she was driving them there in her white Audi R8, which gave Will a chance to look at the passing scenery. Yorkshire was everything he had imagined it to be: green stretched on for miles, going up into hills. In the distance, he could spot sheep, cows and the occasional horse; it was all so simplistic, beautiful and peaceful and it was a welcome change to the busy city of London where he'd been staying recently. Grace hadn't told him about the house she had grown up in - was it somewhere here in the countryside, or in one of the towns? - but that just added to the excitement he felt at seeing where his Soulfinder grew up.
Grace turned the car down a gravely alley that had overgrown trees on each side of it; Will managed to catch a sight of a squirrel quickly jumping from one tree to the next. As they came out of the alley, Will's eyes widened at the sight of the house that seemed to appear from nowhere. It was a beautiful house, he had to admit. It was an old Tudor house, three stories high and painted white with lines of black going down the wall. The roof was tiled - he remembered from history class at school that back in the olden days, only the rich people had tiled roofs, whilst the others had thatched roofs - and there was a thick, red brick chimney with smoke drifting out of it. A white picket fence surrounded the house, enclosing a perfectly mown lawn, with colourful flowers spread out, blooming wonderfully. It was a fairytale house, one that Will didn't even know existed in reality anymore. He couldn't believe Grace hadn't told him beforehand how perfect it was.
Next to the house was a smaller, one-story grey building that Will was curious as to what was inside. Just before Grace parked in front of the house, Will looked around the side of the structure and could have been certain that he'd seen a barn there. After parking the car, they got out and made their way through the garden and up to the front door, which was painted bright red.
The door swung open just as they reached the doorstep, revealing Grace's grandmother. Regina Tiler was a short woman, and despite being in her mid-sixties, she only looked about fifty because of how well she took care of herself. Will thought it was uncanny how much she looked like her granddaughter. They had the same big, chocolate brown owl eyes that seemed to glitter, the same brunette hair (although Regina's was shorter and had natural streaks of grey in it) and even the same dimples in their cheeks when they smiled. Regina stood on her tiptoes to reach for Will and Grace; they both leaned down, allowing Regina to wrap her arms around their necks and hug them both tightly.
After pulling back, she smiled at them both. "Well, aren't you two just picture perfect," she said. "Absolutely beautiful, the pair of you. My future grandchildren are going to be gorgeous!" She laughed. "Will, Grace has told me so much about you. It's lovely to finally meet you, honey."
"You too, Mrs Tiler," he replied politely.
She rolled her eyes, a habit Grace also had. "Call me Regina, please. Come on in then, you two." They stepped into the house and Regina closed the door behind them. "Will, you can go sit in the living room if you want. Grace, come into the kitchen with me, you can help me start preparing the meal I'm making for tea to celebrate you being home."
"Okay, grandma," Grace smiled lovingly at the woman that was like a mother to her and followed her into the kitchen.
Will headed into the living room, looking around curiously. It was a cosy room, more modern than he would have expected though. A man in a wheelchair had been in the front of the TV but when he heard Will come into the room, he turned himself around and came over to him, holding a hand out. "You must be William Benedict, yes? I'm John Tiler, Grace's grandad." Will shook his hand and said hello. "Sit down, Will. I need to talk to you about something."
Expecting a talk about how if he hurt Grace then John would kill him, Will obediently sat on the sofa so he was level and facing John. John had dark grey hair and blue eyes that held wisdom in them; his eyebrows were furrowed together in concentration and his mouth was a flat line. Instead of giving the speech Will had been expecting, John surprised him by asking, "you work for the Net, yes?"
"I do a bit of work for them, yeah," Will answered with a nod. "Not as much as my older brothers though. It's kind of just a temporary job while I study to be a lawyer."
"A lawyer, huh? That's a good job, great pay as well," John nodded in approval. "I used to do a lot of work for the Net, you see, and I still have a lot of contacts there. Grace has told me about the current mission the Net is trying to involve her in, and some of my friends have as well. Grace normally never does work for the Net… At first, I was a little disappointed that she wasn't using her power to help out, but now I'm glad because it means she's not putting herself in danger all the time. But this case… I know that she's considering saying yes."
"It's the woman that killed her parents," Will said. "If I was in her position, I'd say yes as well. Sir, I'm not quite sure where you're going with this."
John sighed. "Whoever this woman is that killed Grace's parents, she's obviously very bright if she's managed to stay hidden for so long. She's dangerous; more dangerous than your average criminal. I don't want Grace getting involved in this if it's not necessary for her to. I don't want her to go walking in there undercover and being hurt… I know that her power stops her from being permanently killed if it's not from natural causes, but I don't know how long that will last. My wife has the same power, and she worked for the Net. She lost count of how many times she died and eventually, one time she got shot and her body just refused to heal itself. She had to have an operation… I very nearly lost her. Grace's power might not weaken over time, but if it does… I don't want to receive a phone call saying she's died, Will. It would break my heart. My son, Grace's father, didn't want this for her. He didn't want her to have any involvement with the Net at all, he was planning on taking her away from all of this. I'd like to respect his wishes and not let her get involved."
"But Grace feels like she has to, because the woman killed her parents," Will said quietly, terrified at the thought of Grace's power weakening over time. "And the Net need that memory stick back, it'll stop the woman from being able to track down other Savants, and Grace is the only one that can get it without dying…"
"I don't care," John shook his head. "I know it sounds horrible to say this, but: I want them to put somebody else in there undercover, whether they're at risk of being killed or not. I don't want Grace being at that sort of risk, and neither would her father. Will, you'll be there when they eventually decide it's time for her to go in undercover. Please, promise me that when the time comes you'll do your best to convince her not to help them. You're her Soulfinder, she'll listen to you… Please, promise me."
"I promise," Will replied instantly, nodding his head. "I don't want to see her be put in danger either. I'll do my best."
"And that's all I ask," he said. "Thank you. You're a good man, son. I know you'll look after my Gracie-Lou."
Grace came into the room then and grinned at the sight of John. "Grandad!" She exclaimed, moving over quickly to give him a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. "Grandma told me you're not taking your medication," she said sternly after pulling back; Will heard the worried tone to her voice. "You know you have to, grandaddy."
"I know, I know," he said, waving a hand and sounding almost childish. "But it just makes me feel worse."
"That doesn't matter," she continued. "In the end, it makes you better, doesn't it? Promise me you'll take your medication."
"I promise," he rolled his eyes.
"Good," she smiled, before turning to Will. "I hope the old man hasn't been bothering you too much," she joked.
Will laughed and shook his head. "No, we were just sharing stories about the Net."
"Oh, okay. Come on, I wanna give you a tour of the place," she said excitedly.
Will followed her into the kitchen, where Regina was stood near a stove. She smiled at them as they walked to the back door, where three pairs of wellies were stood against the wall. "You can put grandad's on," Grace said as she pulled a pair on herself. "Trust me, you'll need them."
As soon as they stepped outside, Will understood what she meant. Instead of a perfectly mown lawn like at the front, the ground was all mud that squelched beneath their feet. In the distance, Will could see a red barn, confirming his earlier thoughts. It was about a five minute walk away and it seemed they were heading in that direction.
"So, do you like the house then?" Grace asked as she linked her fingers through Will's.
"Yeah, it's lovely," he nodded. "Why is it so big if there was only the three of you, though?"
Grace explained, "my grandparents had five kids, including my dad. I have three aunts and one uncle, and loads of cousins. It's a massive family and some of them used to stay with my grandparents every now and then. At Christmas, everybody's there and we're all squashed into the bedrooms together," she laughed. "But it's nice, though. Having everyone together like that."
"Yeah, my family make a big event out of Christmas as well," he chuckled. "We get the biggest tree we can find and decorate it together, then we all sing songs together and laugh at how bad a singer Trace is. Christmas is probably my favourite time of year if I'm being honest."
"Mine too," she replied.
They were silent for about a minute, enjoying being in each other's company. "If you don't mind me asking," Will said carefully. "Why is your grandad in a wheelchair? Can he not walk?"
"No, he can walk, but he gets tired out real easy these days, so the hospital gave him a wheelchair… He has lung cancer," she said quietly and sadly. "He's had it for years, but he's just been so strong that he's managed to stay with us. Grandma jokes that it's his own fault because he used to smoke so much, but it's hard on her. It's hard on all of us. He seems to be getting worse these days. I tried moving back in with them permanently to spend more time with him, but he wouldn't let me, said I had to focus on my career instead of him."
"I'm sorry," Will said, wrapping both arms around her tightly as soon as he saw a tear fall down her cheek. "Why didn't you tell me this before?"
"I don't like talking about it," she mumbled, clinging onto his waist as they stopped walking and burying her head in his chest. "It's why the media and my fans don't know. I'm always so scared that every time I talk to him it might be the last… It's torture not knowing how long he has left."
Will didn't reply. He didn't know what to say that would comfort her. He'd never been in a situation like that so he couldn't say that he knew how she felt. Instead of talking, he held her as she cried, letting her get it all out of her system. He didn't like seeing her cry, but he was glad that she knew she could lean on him for comfort and support.
When she'd finally composed herself, she pulled back and smiled up at him. "I never told you I practically grew up on a farm, did I?"
"No, you didn't, Farm Girl," he replied with a smirk.
"In the building next to the house, we have three horses. Mine is the huge black stallion called Maximillian, he's a beauty, wait 'til you see him! And in the barn we have two cows, a whole family of chickens, a pig, and a goat. Oh, and we have a German Shepherd dog called Lady running around somewhere, as well."
"Where to first then?"
"Uhm, we have to feed the chickens. Apparently the food is already in the barn, we just have to get it out of the bucket. Then you can meet Maxi. After that, tea should be ready," she smiled. "And Will? Thanks for not being angry that I didn't tell you about my grandad."
"Don't worry about it," he smiled and kissed her forehead. "I understand completely. Come on then, let's feed these damn chickens."