It was the quiet before the storm. Zoe knew it. Everyone could sense it. They hadn't been gone long from dropping off the kid's body off with his family. Mal had been too calm, too intentional. His usual surly self had been absent. Zoe, who had known the Captain longest knew that this was his way of coping, that being forced to shoot a friend had injured him in a way that little else could. He was rattled; he paced around Serenity, unable to settle anywhere. Zoe knew that the others sensed something was wrong, that something was off. But she knew the cause. She watched how Mal shied away from Kaylie, whose innocence injured him in a way weapons could not. Zoe knew that Mal also mourned the loss of innocence Kaylie suffered. The girl herself had been more reserved as of late. She'd flinched away, subconsciously, from the Captain. Zoe and the Captain had understood; it wasn't Mal she was afraid of. It had just been a lot to take in, a traumatic, heart-wrenching experience for everyone involved, people with harder hearts that Kaylie.
So when she heard Mal's raised voice coming from the cargo bay, Zoe wasn't surprised. She had been able to let out her grief in the arms of her husband, in the privacy of their room. Mal had not. He had played the strong Captain, been the one they could all come to for Mal to provide his own unique form of comfort. So, it was no surprise that Mal's grief was coming out in the form of anger. Zoe heaved a heavy sigh, pushing herself up from the kitchen chair and heading towards the cargo bay. While she knew that the captain's anger was not directed at anyone but himself, she doubted the others would. She found herself relieved that it was Book who had taken the brunt of the Captain's ire. From the gentle expression in the man's, Zoe could tell that the Shephard understood what this was.
Mal's raised voice drew the rest of Serenity's crew. Mal was railing against God, against honor. What did it bring him? If there truly was a God, he would step in to keep bad things from happening to good people. There would be justice. Friends wouldn't have to kill – It was here that his voice cut out. Suddenly he swung his fist at a nearby crate, his hand breaking through the wall. With a feral yell, he began attacking the crate, demolishing it with hands, fists, kicks. It was a terrifying, wild, tragic thing to behold. For a time, no one could move, shocked by the display. Zoe, shaking off her surprise, readied herself to take a step forward, only to realize that Kaylie was already there.
"Kaylie…" She started, concerned that, in his grief-fueled rage, the Captain would injure the sweet mechanic.
With what happened next, Zoe realized that she should have more faith in her Captain, that even at his worst, he would never harm his crew, especially Kaylie.
"Captain?" Kaylie began gently. With one final yell and fist to the bulkhead, during which everyone heard the resulting snap of breaking bone, the fight drained out of Mal. He stood, shoulders hunched, breath coming in heavy pants. They were surprised to see his shoulders shaking. Kaylie stepped slowly towards the Captain, who sank, exhaustedly, to his knees. Kaylie knelt in front of him, bending her head to look at his face.
"Aw, Cap'n." She crooned, reaching forward and grabbing the Captain's shoulders and pulling him forwards. To everyone's surprise, Mal collapsed forward, wrapping his arms around Kaylie and burrowing his face into her stomach.