Disclaimer: Puella Magi Madoka Magica © Shaft - Full disclaimer on my profile.

Summary: Heaven would have to have pretty poor standards to let me in. / Introspective drabble; spoilers for episodes 8 and 9. Strong religious themes.

A/N: I recently watched "PMMM", and...wow. That anime is simply amazing. One of the things I love is how nuanced the characters are, especially Kyoko. Her attitude towards her religion intrigues me, especially after episode 9. So I decided to explore that.

I'm an atheist. I feel I should establish this. However, I respect people's religions and that every individual has their own attitude toward religion. This is not a balanced view of religion and it certainly isn't mine, but what I feel Kyoko's view might be, and I've tried to be as respectful as I can. (I was confused since it's implied that her family were Catholic, but Catholic priests aren't allowed to marry...? Then again, I guess that could be a part of the "different" thing Kyoko was talking about.)

I haven't been able to read the prequel manga, so I'm sorry if the flashback is inaccurate. The spoken dialogue (apart from in the flashback) is from episode 9.

A Long Way Down

The Soul Gem hairpin fell from Kyoko Sakura's hair; she snatched it from the air, falling to her knees as she clutched it within her hands. She felt it morph against her palm from hairpin to cross.

"Go. I'll handle this."

Kyoko did not look behind her to see Homura take Madoka's unconscious form to safety. Her attention was fixed upon the witch that had once been Sayaka Miki, Puella Magi. The White Knight in blue armour.

The witch stretched above her - warping and distorting the world to her rage and desires. Knight's armour, a singing sword completing the ensemble; a scaled, fish-like tail that thrashed and coiled. Rows upon rows upon rows of orchestra playing in perfect unison, serenading the battlescene with a constant background of darkly beautiful song - a haunting melody that settled into Kyoko's bones, humming along her skull and burrowing into the deepest, darkest corners of Kyoko's mind and soul.

It was so obvious now. Protect the one thing you want to protect, right? Even if that meant following it into oblivion.

Kyoko closed her eyes and prayed.

Damn, she hadn't prayed for such a long time - not since her once-devout father's murderous fit of psychosis. How should she begin?

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.

Ha. No.

Our Father, who art in Heaven...

What use were those prayers? Empty; generic. What did she really want to pray for? What did she want to confess in her final moments?

Father, I was lost. I was lost for a long time, and I did terrible things - but you know that, don't you? I abandoned you when Papa did. Heck, I probably abandoned you the day I became a Puella Magi, right? How can I devote my soul to you when I gave it away for a wish?

Her fingers squeezed the Soul gem tighter, forcing a cross-like imprint into her skin.

Are we all damned, then? Homura, Sayaka, me. All the other girls fighting witches. Is Mami suffering down there right now?


All of that hope. All of that foolhardy courage. All of that determination to do The Right Thing. What reward would she be given? Even with all of the good she caused and meant, how could the blackened, despair-corrupted soul of any witch go to Paradise?

Kyoko recalled the moment -

- the dais of the church was bathed in warm light during the golden hour before sunset, filtering softly through the stained glass window and scattering as a rainbow. Kyubey's silhouette was illuminated at the edges, merely his bottomless, carmine eyes visible, locking onto Kyoko's own with an intensity that gripped her and refused to let her go.

"Kyoko Sakura, are you ready to become a Puella Magi - to devote your life to one cause?"

The enormity of the moment weighed on the girl's shoulders but she refused to let it show, tucking a lock of red hair carelessly behind one ear and faking a yawn. "You talk too much. Just do it already." Her grin would have been almost menacing if not for the sparkle in her eyes. "Make Papa proud, alright?"

Kyubey twitched his head and lifted his ears - woah - they extended, stretching and reaching across the dias towards Kyoko's chest, touching just beneath her collarbone -

The air was sucked from Kyoko's lungs. Her eyes widened; she gasped drily as her vision blurred and her heart twitchstrainpulled and -

- the moment that Kyubey had ripped her eternal soul from her chest, given it a crystalline form: the Soul Gem that she clutched within white-knuckled fists right now.

Homura had said that the Puella Magi were not human. Perhaps she and Sayaka had already given up their right to the celestial paradise long ago, when they had sold their soul to Kyubey. (Would that make Kyubey the equivalent of the Devil...? Kyoko might have laughed if it weren't so damned fitting.) As if I'd earn it anyway. Heaven would have to have piss-poor standards to let someone like her in.

Perhaps He would be kind. Perhaps He would give her and Sayaka at least a single second of contentment before damnation.

We've earned that much, right?

"Don't worry, Sayaka. It sucks to be alone."

Please...please, God, just one happy dream, just once...

"It's okay. I'll be beside you, Sayaka..."

Kyoko lifted her Soul Gem to her lips before releasing it; it was snatched up by witch-Sayaka's gravity, floating towards her, and as Kyoko watched her soul gently drift away - as Kyoko lifted herself to her feet, kicked off into the air and drove her spear through her Soul Gem (something shattered in her chest but she couldn't stop, not yet, not yet) and into Sayaka's heart, and a brilliant light consumed her - she felt oddly at peace.

If we're condemned to Hell, at least we'll be travelling together.