Marge is hysterically sobbing some nonsense about Tom and Dickie's rings; Peter holds her close, strokes her hair, tries his best to be comforting, but his mind's on a certain key kept safe in his jacket pocket.
"No, you look fine without them," he murmurs, reaching over and taking off Tom's glasses, "like Superman," and he doesn't notice the flash of memory-pain in the other man's eyes.
Tom looks down at the gondola and flinches because there are too many memories in getting into a boat with a charming man.
"I want to let you in," Tom whispers against his skin, "but I'm afraid you won't like me anymore."
He runs away afterwards, because he's Tom Ripley and that's his nature; he wanders ashamed in Venice, embarrassed at fleeing, the echo of Peter's kiss still warm on his lips.
Peter thinks bedtime stories might help with the nightmares, so he reads Shakespeare aloud; Tom smiles drowsily, falls asleep dreaming of Caliban and Miranda.
All of a sudden they're kissing in an empty piazza and all around them the air is filled with wingbeats as dozens of startled pigeons take flight.
"Are you cold," Peter asks in a whisper, pulling Tom into his arms; the sound of that voice so close to his ear just makes Tom shiver again.
The sight of Tom's blood is disconcerting; it's soaking through the bandage and Peter dares to ask "Might I come back to check on you after Marge is settled?"
He finds himself transfixed by the way Peter holds the tiny espresso cup in a manner that is somehow delicate yet not at all feminine; it's enigmatic, Tom thinks, smiling shyly.
His first night in Venice and Tom is still awake, listening to the churchbells ringing out the midnight hour and thinking of Peter asleep just on the other side of the wall; he presses one hand against the plaster, filled with a sudden inexplicable longing.
Meredith is so fragile, Tom thinks, and it would be absurdly easy to fit his hands around her throat and then she'd be out of the way and he and Peter might be happy; he's going to do it, he's going to, but somehow he only ends up kissing her instead.
"I think it's the most beautiful view in Italy," Peter murmurs shyly, and Tom just blushes.
"Only the music talking," says Peter, and he's suddenly so close so warm so perfect that for a moment Tom actually wants to tell him everything.
"I haven't silk sheets or anything," he says, opening the door to the guest bedroom, "but it's all yours, until we can find you a proper place of your own , of course," and for some reason he's actually nervous as he waits for Tom to say yes.
He's always nervous with Marge because he always has to remember to cover his tracks, and maybe he does love her a little but it's nothing like loving Peter, which is effortless.
He curls up in Peter's lap, whispers "Do you love me promise you love me promise" and sighs against the other man's lips.
Tom wakes himself up screaming from the nightmares and an instant later Peter is there, barefoot and sleep-disheveled and so caring and concerned that the weight of Tom's secrets seem suddenly heartbreakingly unbearable.
A candlelit bath, shared: neither admits it, but they're both thinking of Dickie.
"You're the talented one," Tom protests, taking his hands from the piano keys and looking over at Peter, wondering "won't you play something, all the songs I know by heart are too sad."
Peter's quiet now, too quiet and the only sound is the soft echoing of Tom's sobs.
Before, he was a virgin; now he stretches out at Peter's side, aching and sated and wonderful and for the first time he realizes that this must have been what he'd once wanted from Dickie after all.
He carries the memory of that accidental touch (like fire like electricity) and that peculiar promise in the Englishman's smile with him, against the cold of Meredith's tears and the overpowering fear of the future.
"I wasn't strong enough to withstand his indifference," Peter admits softly, "I worshipped him but he never noticed," and for a moment it seems Tom might be about to say something, but he just shifts closer, kisses Peter in the darkness.
"Aren't you ever afraid, of being who you are, don't you just hide it all behind a mask until you get so used to hiding that you forget who you are underneath it," babbles Tom, searching Peter's eyes almost desperately for some sort of understanding.
"You can't possibly play with hands that cold, they're like ice," says Peter with a shy smile; he takes Tom's hands and enfolds them in his own, murmuring "there, isn't that better," and Tom blushes, nods yes.
He'll love Athens in the fall, thinks Peter; he doesn't realise it, but he's starting to plan their life together.
Times like this he can almost put what he's running from behind him; everything else is suddenly forgotten, all that's left is the warmth of Peter's skin against his own.
There's a party after the opera, of course; they're dancing and Meredith asks him coolly "Can't you talk of anything but Tom Ripley?"
The body splashes into the endless Mediterranean and Tom is suddenly tempted to follow it overboard.
They're kissing in the shadow of the cathedral -- an inappropriate thing to be done in such a sacred place, perhaps, but they're imagining themselves too overcome by love (lust) to care.
The weekend audition in Naples is looming ahead and Peter confesses that there's something he hates about goodbyes; in the doorway Tom pouts like Dickie, loosens the belt of his borrowed bathrobe and bravely whispers "Then, stay."
"There's more to the world than Italy," Peter breathes, a whisper in Tom's ear, "and nothing keeping us here, come with me, we'll see Athens, we'll see everything."
He sneaks a jumper out of Peter's wardrobe and there's something comfortable about wearing it because it's soft and warn and warm, comforting, nothing like those horrid pieces of Dickie's borrowed formal finery.
"You're hysterical, you're going to make yourself ill," he tells Marge, manuvering her over to the sofa, reaching up to feel her forehead, whispering, "don't think of Tom or Dickie or any of it, just rest your eyes."
He watches Meredith laughing and the sudden incline of Tom's head and then they're kissing; Peter's breath catches and he returns mechanically to their cabin, feeling sullen and cold and something like heartbroken.
"I love you," breathes Tom, and it's the first honest thing he's said since leaving New York.
He curls up on the empty bed (it still smells of Peter) and realizes he really did love me forever.
"Are you all-right," Peter murmurs afterwards; Tom's crying because he's happy and guilty and drained and overwhelmed and wonderful and he'd never really realized that loving could be like this.
There's nothing in the world like the feel of Peter Smith-Kingsley's whisper; it gives Tom goosebumps, leaves him warm and shivery all over.
Hours left to wait, and all Peter can think of is the look on Tom's face when he offered up the key.
He babbles in English and waits as Peter translates it into smooth perfect Italian; it's ironic really that the least-important lie (are you a homosexual) is the one that bothers him the most.
It's Marge who alerts the police after the long suspect silence from a once-dear friend; she's the first one they call when the fishermen recover something suspicious and she hangs up the phone with shaking hands thinking it's Tom Ripley to blame, I know it.
Things will be different this time, he thinks.
"Please, Peter, Please," Tom pleads, teary-eyed, curling up at his cold side, "Peter, please, no," he sobs and it's worse than being ignored by Dickie, worse than anything he's ever known, like the sun's actually burnt itself out.
It's like being weightless, he thinks; he cries out and everything goes out of focus and Peter's there, everywhere, loving him.
"Marge always said America was boring," muses Peter, "all highways and prairies; that must be why you don't talk of America much either," and Tom just nods.
"He's a bit of a mystery," says Marge, "I don't know a thing about him, but I do think you'd like him, Peter, I really think you'd like him," and from the very first mention of this enigmatic Mr Ripley, Peter is enthralled.
"Don't forget," he murmurs, "I have the key."
And with his last breath he chokes out "Tom!"