Work Header

Death on Two Legs (You're Tearing Me Apart)

Work Text:

"Good things about Tom Ripley? That could take me some time..."

Tom could feel Peter's warmth radiating from his relaxed body, his head resting gently on Peter's clothed back. His eyes were closed, his breath shallow, his hands looping the belt of Peter's own robe around themselves for the sake of staying occupied. He knew what he had to do—what he was going to do—and although the very thought of it had a lump beginning to form in his throat and warm tears threatening to spill from those striking blue eyes of his, he could find no other option. There was only one route to take, and it had been that way since he had turned to address a name that wasn't truly his on the deck of the Hellenes. Months later, he'd find himself dreaming of a world where fate wouldn't have allowed Meredith to step foot on the same boat as Peter and himself.

"Tom is talented..."

Meredith. If only he wouldn't have lied about his identity to her when they first met all those months ago, if only he wouldn't have let Dickie's father fly him to Italy, if only he wouldn't have borrowed that Princeton jacket from Fran's boyfriend. If only it wasn't much too late. She was on the boat, she had seen him, and they had talked—they had kissed. Kissing off, Tom had said, but it certainly didn't look that way from up close, and apparently not from a distance, either. Tom would know, because Peter had said so only seconds before, with a voice accompanied by evidently jealous undertones.

"Tom is tender..."

At Peter's words, Tom's smile widened, his face soft. Short snippets of moments the two of them shared came rushing into focus—when they met at the opera and Tom was all smiles, when Peter's breath had sent chills down his neck as he leaned over Tom to play Knees Up Mother Brown, when they shared a gentle and loving gaze not long ago on the deck of the very boat they were on after Tom had said there was nothing he would've changed about that moment and meant it. He would've been a fool not to have realized how much Peter truly loved him, how Peter probably yearned to be Meredith when he saw her and Tom sharing a kiss. As Peter shifted to rest his head on his arm, Tom wished he could tell Peter that he loved him, too, as much as a man like himself could someone else.

"Tom is beautiful..."

Tom could practically hear the endearing grin in Peter's tone, could imagine the dark brown strands of hair that had fallen over his forehead. Tom beamed, stuttering out a laugh that sounded a bit too much like a sob. "You're such a liar." Tom half-chortled, and Peter responded with a short-lived chuckle of his own. Tom fought to hold back the pent-up whimpers that were begging to escape his throat, still twisting Peter's robe's belt around his hand to distract himself. He was hurting, aching with the fact that he'd have to do something he'd really rather not do, but the same greedy desire that pushed him to assume Dickie's identity had gotten into his head once again, and there was only one way to get rid of it.

"Tom is.. Tom is a mystery..."

Mystery—that was the perfect adjective to describe Tom Ripley, and Peter didn't even know the half of it. Tom suddenly thought of Marge, who did know the half of it. All her suspicions were correct, but it wasn't anything to fuss over, because no one believed her anyways. Still, she deserved better—better than him, better than Dickie, better than everything she had. She was surrounded by mysteries, completely engulfed by them. She felt pain because of them, suffered because of them, and yet Tom still thought everything she had went through barely measured up to the mess he had went through. Much like the memories of Peter and himself, snapshots of the moments Dickie and Freddie had died flashed through his mind. He saw an oar in his hands, his knuckles white from gripping it too hard, and a boat splattered with the harsh red tones of blood. He saw the Hadrian bust swing through the air, then roll across the floor, a large bloodstain forever imbedded into its surface. He saw Dickie's limp body, still as handsome and dashing as when it was alive, and Freddie's stiffening corpse, still striking Tom as unlikeable. Wishing to escape those vivid recollections, he brought his focus back to Peter, turning his head to kiss the man's shoulder.

"Tom is not a nobody..."

Upon hearing those words escape Peter's lips, Tom realized that there was only one person out there who thought the real Tom Ripley was a somebody, and that one person was stretched out underneath him, supplying Tom with endless compliments and care and love. Sure, he was a somebody to nearly everyone he had met in Italy, but it wasn't the real Tom that they had fallen in love with. Peter truly loved him for him, though, which only made what he had to do ten times harder. He kept thinking about how Peter loved him, and about how confused and utterly crushed Peter would feel once Tom was strangling him relentlessly with the belt of the robe. It nearly broke whatever mutation of a heart that Tom had left. Tom Ripley was death on two legs, and it had become time for him to experience the most horrible and most deserving punishment for it.

"Tom has secrets he doesn't want to tell me, and I wish he would..."

There was nothing Tom wanted more than to tell Peter each and every one of his secrets—open himself up to Peter like a book—but he knew he couldn't. Peter deserved to own the key to Tom's dark basement of the past, but Tom needed to hold onto that key well past death. If there was a way he could've let Peter step inside and take a look around, he would've, but he wouldn't have been able to handle the implications of it. At the very least, Peter would've never looked at him the same again knowing everything Tom had done. The very thought of a frightened look in Peter's eyes whenever he looked at Tom was enough to kill him two times over—he couldn't bare to imagine Peter reacting drastically. He momentarily considered telling Peter everything—handing him the key—right before he took it away from Peter, along with everything else. However, this thought soon left his head. It seemed wrong to list all his wrongdoings to Peter, only to have Peter become the latest addition.

"Tom has nightmares.. that's not a good thing..."

Peter's words triggered a clear memory to replay itself. He remembered having a terrifying nightmare about Dickie, already cold and dead and covered in blood yet still standing upright, yelling at him about how much of a freak he was. He absolutely despised the memory of the two of them on the motorboat, arguing with each other angrily, and therefore, he despised the dreams about the sickening event, too. He had woken up in a cold sweat, jolting upright with wide eyes, and was met with the sight of Peter, whose eyes were soft and concerned as ever. Peter had told Tom that he had fallen asleep on his couch the night before, then pestered Tom with questions concerning his wellbeing. He thought about how lucky he was to have such a caring person in his life, then found himself thinking about how much he'd miss it.

"Tom has someone to love him.. that is a good thing..."

There was no doubt in Tom's mind that the 'someone' Peter was referring to was his own self. Sure, he had lied and told Peter that Fran from back home was his fiancée, and Peter had seen him kissing Meredith, but Tom knew that Peter wouldn't refer to either of the two women with such happiness in his voice in the given context, what with his poorly-repressed jealousy and all. Peter loved Tom, and may have very well been the only person who would ever have loved Tom so greatly. Peter would have cared for him, would have been there for him, would have valued him. Tom leaned over further, more of his body weight shifting onto Peter. He wished he could confess his own love for Peter—he wanted Peter to know more than anything—but he couldn't tell Peter just how much he loved him, then strangle him dead. Things didn't work that way, even for Tom.

"Mm, Tom is crushing me.."

Peter's voice was light and loving, ending in another small chuckle. It was all too painful to hear—Peter had absolutely no idea what was coming, and it was horrible. Tom silently applied more pressure onto Peter's body, beginning to snake the belt of the robe under Peter's neck.

"Tom is crushing me."

Peter repeated his words, whispering them, still unknowing of what Tom was trying to accomplish. Once Tom had pushed one end of the belt under Peter's neck, he shifted so his forehead was pressed against the back of Peter's head, and grabbed hold of both ends of the belt. As he inhaled, he could smell Peter's shampoo. It was the last time he'd ever be able to. It was the last time he'd ever touch Peter, ever hear his voice, ever be with him again. That very realization was enough to push him over the edge, ripping a heavy sob from his throat. After the first noisy cry broke free, his chest tightened, and he found himself unable to hold the rest back. Through eyes blurred by a film of salty tears, he saw his own hands pulling hard at the rope, strangling Peter as he held his body down.

"Tom- Tom, you're crushi–"

Peter's panicked voice faded into garbled chokes, blending into Tom's heart-wrenching crying. Peter was terrified—so, so terrified—wiggling about as he tried to free himself. As Tom gripped and tugged on the belt harder, his sobs only became louder. More memories invaded his mind; Dickie's skin peeling open and pouring blood like a waterfall, strong yet slippery hands squeezing around his neck as a horrifying voice screamed "I'm going to kill you!", a white-turned-red oar thumping against Dickie's twitching body, a motor boat containing the lifeless body of the man he once loved slipping underneath the water's surface. "Oh God, oh God." Someone cried, repeating it like a mantra. Tom realized it was himself. Ironically enough, Peter was tearing him apart.

Tom only pushed Peter's body down harder and pulled on the belt with as much force as he could, continuing to do so long after Peter's body had gone limp. When Tom had finally given up, his throat raw, eyes sore, and body weak, he got up off of Peter, and without second though, turned him over so he was lying on his back and got on the bed again, lying beside him.

He moved Peter's droopy arm over himself, and wrapped his own arm around Peter, pressing close to his dead body.

He would do his best to suppress the memory of murdering Peter Smith-Kingsley, but the memory of embracing his still-warm body in his room after sunset on the Hellenes could always be saved for a Ripley rainy day.