She was always getting into trouble. Giants and vampires and whatever mess she'd gotten into outside Windhelm. Still, hearing that her name had a bounty attached for murder was not something he could have pictured finding her in. When he heard of her escape - and word had traveled fast inside the damned city, he immediately gave his own job up and went to look for her.
She shouldn't even be in Markarth, he thought. The dragon had been seen at a farm well outside the city and he hadn't heard it getting close enough to be more than a peripheral fear for the city. He reasoned that she might have decided to rest at the inn but then how did that explain the charge for murder of one man an three guards?
Damn it, what have you done, Everlee?
Following the trail outside the city on his rented horse, he half expected to find a stranger who had stolen her name. Perhaps hoped he had. Then he'd take the scoundrel back, clear her name, and she might not even be all the wiser about the affair. But it wasn't long before he found a horse meandering in the road, and in the ditch next to it was a mass of brown hair, face down.
Vilkas leaped from his horse and pulled her up, sharp pain in his chest knocking the breath out of him as he turned her over. He breathed when he saw she was breathing, grateful the divot wasn't filled with water or she'd have surely drowned.
And he'd never have seen her again. Never have saw her smile or the way her eyes lit up when she was about to do something bold. He would never see the honest way she looked at him, unafraid, unintimidated. She had never backed away from him, not even after finding out what he was. Not even after he'd kissed her.
It had been him that left and now he cursed everything in the world that he had.
"Everlee," he said, voice rough, almost breaking under the weight of what he was feeling.
She didn't wake and he carefully moved her onto his lap. He unfastened the top of her armor and put it aside before laying her across him. He ripped her shirt around the arrows carefully, his mind focused solely on healing her (and not the perfect smoothness of her skin). Then he took a sharp breath in, removing an arrow and she gasped but didn't startle all the way awake. He removed the second. Then he removed his armor and shirt, tearing off the bottom to staunch the wound, feeling stupid he hadn't done it first, that his head was all out of sorts. He bandaged her as best he could then carefully pulled his shirt over her, facing her away from him out of a sense of decency and then he attached her bag to his horse before carrying her to it and carefully sliding first her then himself onto the beast's back. He held her against his chest carefully and securely before setting his sights toward home.
Vilkas hated that he didn't find a healer on the way home but she made it safely to Whiterun and there he knew she'd be well taken care of. Word hadn't yet reached the city about the dragonborn accumulating a bounty on her head (for murder his mind reminded him) and he didn't know what to do with that information himself. He honestly didn't care, might never care if she wasn't healed and quickly.
Vilkas confided everything to Kodlak while a healer was sent for. He hated being away from her but this was necessary.
"What could she have been thinking?" Vilkas asked.
"We do not know the whole story," Kodlak said.
Vilkas sighed. He was right but that didn't make it any easier. He wanted answers. Why had she been in that mess? Why had she nearly gotten herself killed wrapped up in it?
When he went back to his room (where he'd placed her), he saw Farkas and Ria there, keeping watch. The healer wasn't there yet and Vilkas stood in the doorway. His brother, whose face was normally lit up with a smile, was looking serious, looking like Vilkas. He was clearly worried and Ria was talking quietly with him, comforting him.
Which must have been odd for her given her obvious feelings toward Farkas. Farkas hadn't known, probably would never figure it out without the girl telling him and she didn't seem to be ready to do that. So he hadn't needed to get involved. He hadn't had anything to worry about.
With Everlee everything was different. His brother had taken to her so quickly, and if anything could be said of his brother it was that he knew his own mind. He could hear Aela add because he was simple which wasn't the right word for it.
At least, not in some senses. He wasn't simple but he made everything simple. He wanted not to shift so he didn't. He wanted to fight, so he'd fight. He felt something for Everlee so he told her. Farkas wasn't simple, he simplified.
And Vilkas was everything complicated. He was torn between the Hunt and Sovngarde. He held anger, righteous and he wanted to act on but Kodlak urged him toward patience when he wanted action. And he - he felt something for Everlee and he hated it. He hated that he felt he couldn't love her without putting her in danger. He hated that even if he could he could never bring himself to take her from Farkas. He hated that maybe that made him a coward, that he wouldn't fight for her.
Because that kiss… So short, so much more he wanted. He wanted her to wake up so he could hold her and scold her and everything complicated from feeling for her. He wanted to kiss her again, to pour all the twisted feelings and thoughts into it and see if she kissed him back. He wondered if maybe that would be like dueling her, heart racing, senses heightened, everything but her gone.
"Vilkas are you alright?" Ria asked. "Your eyes are… wet."
She sounded surprised and Vilkas cleared his throat but almost immediately afterward someone behind him did the same and he turned and stepped aside to let the healer through.