Disclaimer: I only write fanfiction for fun; I highly doubt anyone would pay for it anyway.

A/N: I always have the strangest conversations about FFXIII. And then they turn into stories.

Deceit

There were creature innumerable roaming the vast plains of Gran Pulse, from the enormous monsters whose toes were taller than Vanille, to the behemoths that clashed on the borders of the never-ending cliffs, to the dragons that circled the sky like it was theirs to own. Most of them were malevolent, and kept Lightning's hand on her blade at all times. She managed to stay away from the five-story-tall dinosaur-like monsters that caused veritable earthquakes with each step.

However, they didn't stay out of the way of the rest of the bests quite as easily.

One Monstrous Flan later, and the entire group was covered in yellowish, gelatinous slime. It smelled vaguely saccharine, but more disgusting than anything, and Lightning would have given quite a lot to get it out of her hair, where it was drying and making most of her spikes stand straight up.

"This. Is. Revolting," she announced, at risk of sounding like she actually cared about her appearance more than everyone believed.

So what if she wanted to simultaneously look pretty and like she could punch all your teeth out before you could say "fal'Cie"? It took a lot to keep her lip gloss perfect in the middle of the battlefield, and it took even more effort to fight gracefully while wearing a miniskirt so short most of the male guardians were hardly a challenge because they spent most of their times drooling at her instead of sparring with her.

Not that she would ever tell anyone how much she cared about it. Snow would probably compare her to Serah, who cried if she broke a nail. Lightning wasn't like that, but she did value her appearance to some degree.

Which was why she was very pleased when they came across a large lake. It was pretty shallow for the most part, until it abruptly dropped off, and there was an island in the middle. Lightning intended to wash all the slime off of her person and then get back to the battles, allowing the sun to dry them as they went on.

Her comrades seemed to have other ideas.

Lightning sometimes wondered why she'd been cursed with the most easily distracted travelling companions in all of Cocoon and Pulse. Every single one of them could have quite quickly been diagnosed with ADD, even Fang, who just went along with whatever Vanille did. It was like every four seconds, someone got distracted by something, and they stood there staring at it for hours.

This time, it was the sheep.

There were little bouncing, fluffy sheep hopping around near the lake, and Hope seemed to have decided they were the most interesting animal on Gran Pulse. After washing himself off, he was rolling around in the grass with the white animals, petting them and hugging them. Lightning would have told him to let go of the sheep and get a move on… but it was ridiculously cute. Snow raised an eyebrow at her, noticing the grin sliding its way onto her face, earning him a scowl.

Hope kind of reminded her of a sheep. Maybe it was his hair, which was about as fluffy as the animal's wool. A sudden desire to pet his hair and see if it was just as soft made Lightning want very much to get him away from the creatures and forget she'd ever thought of it in the first place.

"Hope, come on," Lightning said, sliding off the rocky outcropping she was sitting on and folding her arms. Hope was still sitting on the ground with a sheep headbutting him gently in the chest, laughing wildly as the fuzzball tried to crawl into his lap.

"Hey…" Hope said, watching the other sheep, which seemed to not like him as much, trot off into the water, "come back, sheep!"

"Don't yell at the sheep," Lightning said, "it can't understand you anyways."

Hope stood, patting the sheep next to him on the head as he watched the other one plunge deeper into the water. "I didn't know sheep liked water so much."

Hope and Vanille both gasped as an enormous monster with teeth longer than Lightning's arm poked its head out of the water and swallowed the sheep whole. It sank back into the lake moments later, leaving the surface as placid as ever.

Remembering her idea that Hope looked like a sheep, Lightning put an arm in front of his chest and pushed him away from the water. "Don't go near that thing," she warned.

"What… why? We're not fighting it?" Hope asked, trotting off after Lightning as she stalked away, pulling out her weapon to deal with some of the less dangerous monsters roaming the plain.

"No. It would eat you."

"Why would it do that!"

"You look too much like a sheep."