A/N: Set in the 3.5 timeline, so not really a S3 drabble or a S4 drabble. A short prosey thing previously posted on Tumblr. Enjoy!

Twenty-three minutes.

That's the average time it took for Oliver to go back to sleep after waking from a nightmare.

Over the months they were together Felicity inadvertently collected the data, noting the clock when he'd wake her with disconnected mutterings, and the time when his breath would even out again announcing sleep.

She discarded the outliers. Like the nights he'd wake up yelling, body taut and ready for an attack. Those nights he never went back to sleep and she was grateful they didn't happen often.

Most nights, if he did dream of terrible things, they didn't wake him at all.

She'd roll so she could see him, his brows drawn together, mouth in a frown. With a featherlight touch she'd just let the backs of her knuckles brush over his temple, across his hair, and stop at his ear before returning to begin again.

Over and over, so slow and soft she could barely feel him herself she'd soothe him until his breath was warm and steady against her arm, until the deep lines in the center of his forehead faded, until the muscles around his mouth relaxed.

She liked that she could do that. That she could comfort him without waking him. His eyes when he'd wake were almost more than she could bare sometimes. Pain filled, lost and hopeless. She never minded being woken up if she had the power to bring him a little peace.

Her strokes would become slower and slower, fingers curling inwards into her palm as her eyes grew heavier. Eventually they would stop, her hand coming to rest gently against his shoulder, her head turning to press into his arm, curling into him as they both slept.

Oliver Queen's protector.

As the years progressed she was happy to discover her services were needed less and less.

But sometimes she still lay there watching him sleep. The hair at his temples now shot with silver. The lines around his eyes no longer something she could ease away, but present for a very different reason.

And she'd still stroke his hair like she always had. Because she wanted to, and it brought them both peace. And she knew they'd earned it.