Author's Notes: Written for the doomed ships comment ficathon, the prompt: "BtVS, Buffy/Riley, You call me a safe bet. I'm betting I'm not."

Mechanisms (The Tin Soldier Blueprint)

He's her soldier. He's her soldier that is no longer a soldier, but that's not the point. She dug him out of where he used to be; chemicals winding him up like clockwork. Now he only does that for her.

She looks at him like part of the furniture – safe, comfortable, dependable. Given everything she went through last year because of him, he finds it slightly ridiculous, but of course that wasn't him. That was the Initiative and Adam and everything they stuck in his head because they could.

And that was the time she saw the most of him.

He loves her. Crazy, devoted, flowery metaphor love. She knows this, and she thrives on it.

He doesn't.

Because she doesn't love him back, and he knows it. She loves the idea that she could love him, but in reality she can't – he is safe and normal, and she wants to feel like she could fall in love with that. She wants to feel like there is something inside her that hasn't been touched, hasn't been made almost inhuman, just by being who she is. She wants to feel she can love like anyone else.

But she can't.

He's probably not making any sense. He's probably just making things up due to his own inferiority complex, but honestly he doesn't care. Because the more he looks at her, the more he sees her drifting away and proving his point – if what he's thinking isn't true, it's sure doing a damn fine job looking like it.

He's going through the motions of losing her, but to do it properly he would need to have had her in the first place – and it's really quite bothering him, because he thinks he should feel something about this. He should be mad, either at her or him; he should hate himself for doing this to her, or vice versa. He should just feel like he's losing something.

He's selling his soul to the devil, one blood-drop at a time, and he really has no idea why – he tells himself that it's to understand whatever it is about the dark that she does, but really, that's not it. He doesn't want to know the dark. He wants to know her, but that's never going to happen and he's given up.

He panics at the idea of her finding out. But he panics worse at the idea she won't, for if she doesn't, he's sent himself to hell for no reason.