Summary: Her life is based on nothing but lies, but honesty colors every mistruth that he spills. Leo/Gia. Oneshot.

Disclaimer: Definitely don't own them. If I did, both Max and Krysten would be getting a hell of a lot more screen time and contracts to be regulars on the show.

A/N: Blame Conor Oberst and Hider. In other words, this is from the usual inspiration. Title comes from "Haligh, Haligh, A Lie, Haligh" by Bright Eyes. Reviews? Oh, I love them. ;)

--

Everybody lies. Those who are willing to deny the omniscient statement are clearly the best of the best when it comes to acting out a part and faking a smile. If they can convince someone that they're always truthful then they must be good at what they do. White lies stretch into entirely nonexistent lives and it's nearly impossible to decipher truth in today's world.

But despite the fact that her entire life is based on a lie that grew out of control and blinded everyone she's ever loved, she wants to believe every word that falls out of his mouth. She wants to think that she can lose herself in him, braid her skin into his and never leave the warm soft comfort of his arms.

Gia sighs and leans back in her seat, furrowing her brow as she stares at the sheets of paper spread before her. Running a hand through the small tuft of her ponytail, she lets out an exasperated groan and drops her head dejectedly into her hands.

"That doesn't look anything like Webster's definition of studying," he drawls. Head jerking up, her eyes widen slightly at the sight of him and she smiles slowly, pulling her shoulders up to her ears in a shrug.

"Decided I needed a break," she offers easily. Leo nods and hums quietly.

"So I take it college life isn't as fabulous as you thought it would be," he pushes away from the door frame and slides the door shut behind him, moving to join her on the couch.

A heavy sigh and then she frowns mightily, glaring daggers at the unfinished work in front of her. "It's so much harder than high school was," she whines. "Why do I even have to learn all of this stuff? It totally should not be this hard to be an entrepreneur. And I totally know how to do this without listening to a lecture about it!"

Chuckling, he ducks down to kiss her in greeting and drops down beside her on the cushions. "I'd offer my help but I don't think I'm going to be very useful in—" he lifts up one of the sheets, gazing curiously at the half-finished drawing "—fashion design." Gia pouts adorably and grabs the notebook from him, flicking the spiral idly between her fingers.

She huffs and falls against the back of the couch, blowing her bangs away from her face with the force of air. "All of this stuff is due next week and I am way behind all the girls in my classes. And that Johnny guy, who totally shouldn't be getting better grades than me because all of his designs are like Ralph Lauren knock-offs," she babbles, oblivious to the way he's staring at her as she speaks.

He smiles slowly and reaches for the notebook in her hands, dropping it on top of the pile of papers on her coffee table. "Relax," he murmurs. Her head turns and he meets her eyes, smiling reassuringly. "You're gonna do fine," he promises.

"How do you know?"

"Because you're Gia Goodman," he winks and she bites her lip to keep from smiling, though the warm feeling in her stomach makes it hard not to give in. When he kisses her, she closes her eyes and returns the pressure, because if she lets him go then the other shoe will surely drop.

--

"You know, this stalking thing is really going to put a damper on our relationship," she comments. Dark eyes appraise her without really moving in her direction and she rolls her own, folding her arms across her chest impatiently.

"Afraid I'll replace you with one of my jobs, Gia?"

She fidgets slightly in her seat and shrugs awkwardly. "Well, how do I know that you're not off with some hot little hussy when you claim you're at work? You could be anywhere with anyone and I'd never even know the difference," she proclaims haughtily. Leo finally turns to her and frowns slightly, concern coloring his features.

"You honestly believe that," he asks, though it comes off as much more of a statement than a question. Gia shrugs again. Sighing, he scoots his bar stool closer to hers and presses a kiss to the corner of her mouth. "I'm not going anywhere, Gia," he promises quietly.

Barely hearing the proclamation over the off-key karaoke singer on stage at the Hut, she swallows audibly and offers him a smile that's a little too wobbly around the edges. He reaches for her hand and she lets him wind their fingers together, though the gentle pressure of his skin on hers does nothing to ease the tugging in her stomach.

"Want a refill on that cappuccino, Gia?"

She looks up at her name and smiles at the site of her friend, brightening considerably. Leo smiles at Veronica and Gia nods vigorously. "Absolutely. You guys totally make the best coffee in town." After a pause, "You should have it copyrighted or something."

"Well, wouldn't want to steal Starbucks' thunder," Veronica replies with a smile. "Leo, want anything else?" She grabs Gia's empty cup and he shakes his head.

"No, I'm good. Thanks, Veronica," he smiles again and the brunette girl frowns at the site. Considering their last thread of conversation and the fact that he totally dated her friend a couple years ago, she's not really up for watching him charm Veronica.

"Anytime. I am a customer service whore," Veronica salutes them both and walks away to retrieve a new tray of coffee. Gia watches her go and then turns to her boyfriend, smacking him lightly in the shoulder.

"What?" he laughs and rubs at the spot lightly, keeping his other hand firmly anchored in hers. The frown from earlier is still painting her features and it only deepens at the oblivious question.

"See what I mean? You could be hooking up with Veronica without me ever knowing the difference!"

"Gia," he says slowly, turning toward her completely and blocking her view of the idiot on stage. She thinks she recognizes the guy from a party at Hearst last weekend, but she can't be sure. Whoever he is, he's dedicating his song to his girlfriend and she can't help but feel sorry for the poor girl who got sucked into dating the dude.

He's probably just going to dump her as soon as they have sex, anyway.

"…lie to you. Not to mention the fact that Veronica introduced us and Logan would kick my ass," Leo finishes his admonishment and grins crookedly, an adorable glint in his eyes that she recognizes from multiple nights spent in her apartment and his. She smiles sheepishly and nods, closing her eyes briefly when he reaches up to tuck her hair behind her ear. It falls back in front of her face a moment later and he sighs playfully.

Kissing her forehead softly, Leo looks over his shoulder at the frat boy belting out Dashboard Confessional at the top of his lungs. "So how long do you think it'll be before this guy's Idol dreams are crushed?"

Gia's smile doesn't quite reach her eyes when she makes her bet, but she moves closer to him when the audience gives a weak applause at the end of the performance.

--

His hand strokes softly through her hair and she pulls away sharply, folding her arm across her stomach tightly. The other hand clutches her cell phone to her ear, and she listens intently to her little brother's hesitant request for her to go visit him.

"Rodney, of course I'll come visit," she sighs in exasperation. "Where are you?"

Silence answers her question and she says her little brother's name again, slightly irritated at his vagueness. Leo lets out a breath behind her and Gia rolls her eyes, still angry with him for going through the box under her nightstand. There's a reason she keeps it on the floor, away from her line of sight when she's lying in bed. She can see it perfectly fine when she enters the room, but beyond that it's off her radar and she prefers it that way.

"I'm in the hospital," Rodney tells her quietly. He almost sounds guilty and the admission makes Gia gasp, tears suddenly filling her eyes at the thought of her brother injured in any way.

"Why? What happened?" On autopilot, she grabs her purse from the dresser and slides a jacket into the crook of her elbow. Rodney stutters out that he has to go and the nurse is there and then the line disconnects.

"Gia," Leo rests his hand on her shoulder as she rips open the door and she turns to him, slightly shocked that he's standing there when she remembers the fight they were in when the youngest Goodman called. Through clouded eyes she appraises him and the guilty expression on his face and she sighs.

"Come with me," her voice shows no emotion and when he opens his mouth to speak she holds a hand up. "But don't say anything."

He keeps silent as he trails her path out the door.

--

"Do not lie to me, mother!" she snaps, jerking backwards when the older woman moves towards her. Gia inhales sharply and tightens her grip on her keys so that the metal is digging into the soft flesh of her palms. "I'm not stupid enough to think that he broke his arm in a bike accident."

"Gia, listen to me—"

"No!" she snaps. "Rodney doesn't even like to play outside, Mom," she points out. The shorter woman tenses at the comment and Gia scoffs, biting her lip to keep back her tears as she backs into Leo for the support she needs to keep standing. "I'm glad Dad was the one to discipline me when I was little," she says quietly.

With that, she turns on her heel and walks swiftly down the corridor to Rodney's room. Leo follows her awkwardly and Gia tries not to think about how many times she's had to beg her mother not to hurt the little boy for making a mistake.

Reaching the door, she walks slowly into the room and smiles shakily at Rodney when he looks up at her. "Hey little brother," she murmurs. Leo hangs back and she denies his presence as she approaches the bed, sitting daintily on the edge of the pristine white mattress. "Does it hurt?"

"A little," Rodney offers. He admires the bright green cast adorning his left arm and then beams up at his older sister. "But the doctor said it'll heal in a couple weeks."

"Yeah," she nods softly. "Plus you can totally get all your friends to sign your cast," she says brightly. "And you can put stickers on it, too. All the cool casts have stickers," she adds as an afterthought. Leo smirks from his position by the door and she glances briefly at him.

"No!" Rodney protests. Gia snaps her eyes back to his face and furrows her brow. "I can't have anyone sign it, because then I'll have to tell them what happened!"

Silence descends over the room and she breathes heavily through her nose in an attempt to remain calm and keep the tears at bay. Curling her fingers around the strap of her purse, she stands slowly and brushes blonde hair away from Rodney's forehead.

"Didn't I ever teach you how to lie?"

--

Leo stares at her seriously and she tries desperately to comprehend what he's saying, but his words are flying out of his mouth much quicker than she can believe. He's talking even faster than she does, normally, and considering that he's been silent for the past three hours aside from a murmured well-wishing to her little brother, his confession catches her completely off guard. Her hand stops halfway to her hair and she lets it hang in front of her eyes carelessly.

Blinking once, twice, three times, she tries to process the words he's just thrown at her. Gia lets out a slow breath and runs a hand through her hair, tilting her head awkwardly to the side as she appraises him. "It's been, like, four months," she retorts stupidly.

"Making this the fourth longest relationship I've ever had," Leo quips charmingly. She tenses and drops her hand suddenly as she straightens up to her full height.

"You can't just tell me that and expect me not to freak out! Especially since you're totally only saying it to keep me from breaking up with you for lying to me," she fumes. He takes a step closer to her, then another when she doesn't move back in response. After a moment he's standing directly in front of her with mere inches separating their bodies, and he reaches up to brush his fingers through her bangs.

"I love you," he repeats the statement and she hates him for how absolutely honest the announcement sounds. Gia has heard the same words come from the mouth of her dead, child-molesting father and her abusive mother and her totally fucked-up little brother too. Even Dick said them to her, one night after graduation when they were both swimming in grief and vodka on the beach.

Her life is based on nothing but lies, but honest colors every mistruth that he spills.

She meets his eyes and folds her arms over herself protectively. "I don't stay with people who lie to me, Leo."

"It's not a lie," he promises quietly. "If it was, I wouldn't have said it." Stepping closer still, he rests his hands on her elbows and smiles softly. "We've both been betrayed by people we love, Gia. Why would I add to your list when mine is almost as big as yours?"

Lowering her gaze to his chest, she inhales slowly through her nose and then lets the air out through her mouth. Leo squeezes her elbows lightly and she looks up at him defiantly. "I don't know," she sighs in exasperation and they both laugh at the tone, the tension in her spine spilling out of her skin in tiny metallic waves.

"So you wanna tell me about your scrapbook, then?"

Gia gazes over his shoulder at the box that's still lying open on her bed, a small felt book adjacent to it on the polka-dotted comforter. After a moment she nods, though she's still not sure if that's the truth.