The corner store. The deli. The bodega. Kara is most familiar with the last label, once having had some semblance of a life on her own in Manhattan. But that was a long time ago — an entire timeline altogether — and her life as she knows it now exists in San Francisco.
She walks past that bodega multiple times a day. Once on the way to work as Nora with a quick stop for a bottle of cold brew coffee, and then once again on her way home. And then much later yet again, when most responsible adults are asleep, she hurries past the fluorescently lit to head to an alleyway lacking in surveillance to begin her work for the night. Each time, the same older Yemeni man behind the counter offers her a friendly wave, and sometimes, even a smile.
Kara knows better than to don the suit on nights out like this. She wants to remain inconspicuous and a cape and emblem bearing an all too familiar symbol would call too much attention to her. The reckless display broadcast on national television last summer is still something she shakes her head at, both in disappointment and concern. Nora. You know better. As she sits on the rooftop, Kara closes her eyes and listens, focusing on the streets below to filter through the usual city sounds for any signs of distress. The signal to noise ratio is low here, and she chooses to stay put for a few more minutes before finding a new place to survey.
She's en route to West Oakland when she hears the sounds of a safety clicking and multiple accelerating heartbeats. A command. A gasp. A plea. She races through the night sky and lands on the street with an audible thump with a fist and one knee to the ground. She stands up and speaks loudly, clearly.
"I'd think twice if I were you."
The mugger scoffs and Kara can barely hold back an eye roll. Moving quickly, she steps in front of the other woman at the scene and shields her from the gunshots she knows are coming, her power ring creating a cape-like feature that deflects the bullets away from them with a sound akin to someone dropping change on the ground. Confused beyond comprehension, the assailant shouts a bunch of words that are muffled by the makeshift cape, and even Kara can barely hear them. Once it's quiet, she unwraps them and ensures that the coast is clear.
"Are you okay? Let's get you home."
She's not sure what she's stumbled upon tonight, but it isn't pretty. An argument in front of a bar had turned into something else, and now Kara is wearing a domino mask and dealing with a problem that's too small for the Oakland Police to give a shit when other crimes and problems are higher on their priority list.
She hears a grunt as her fist makes contact with the stranger's stomach. It takes everything in her to hold back, to keep the fight fair, to stop her from tearing right through this man's flesh with her bare hands. She pulls back again, this time to throw her weight into the punch as the guy struggles to gain his composure and calls her a slew of awful names as he does so. She lands a second punch. And then a third. And then a fourth, well aware that she's going easy on him even if he might disagree. She growls as she slugs him one more time, satisfied that he's now in enough pain to be deterred from finishing the mugging that she's interrupted. He isn't too hurt; she makes sure of it before she walks away. A couple of broken ribs will take a while to heal, but his injuries are far from fatal. He hunches over in pain as she walks away without saying a word to him, instead gently pulling his would-be victim away with her to ensure her safety. Sirens growing closer fill the air as they walk away and she brings her into the nearest 24-hour deli for some water and a safe place to make a phone call.
Her elbow meets his face with a crunch that's all too gratifying and she wonders if she's starting to enjoy this more than she should. The vigilante lifestyle isn't one that she would have chosen for herself, but Kara's spent more evenings out patrolling than she has at home. Sitting on the couch with books and video games isn't enough to satiate her restlessness, so she takes to the city to occupy her time and burn energy. Her more human counterpart would be displeased with her had she not pulled down the metaphorical shades, but at least she's taking extra precautions so that she doesn't find out...for now. The sound of a siren grows louder and louder as cop cars approach the scene, and it isn't long before red and blue light up parking lot where she's interrupted an assault — if not worse.
She glances around to confirm that authorities have it handled before launching her fists into the air and bolting into the sky to continue patrolling. The tell-tale red streak in the sky isn't there; it only appears when the cape does. It's not much, but it's a slice of a life that's all her own.
She slows down once she's well over the city and surveys the lights below her. "Ring, what time is it?"
"2:52 AM, Lantern Zor-El."
She purses her lips and knows that's enough for one night. The flight back to her block in San Francisco is quick, and she takes extra caution to land quietly once she's reached the dead zone that has come to be a gatekeeper of sorts for her secret extracurricular activities. Just like on every other night, she uses her enhanced vision to give herself a once over and make sure her side gig isn't obvious. Convinced that she's fine, Kara steps out and rounds the corner, making her way into the bodega for the final time that night.
He says nothing as she steps inside, offering her a nod instead before he turns back to the texts on his phone. Kara goes straight to the back of the store where she knows the blue Gatorade is kept and grabs a bottle. She browses the other snacks around her: kettle chips, Pringles, jerky, Honey Buns. None of them are appealing so she walks up the register and sets her sports drink on the counter while she continues to search. A smile lights up her features as she finds exactly what she's looking for and places the giant Nerds rope and a bundle of Pixy Stix on the counter. "That's it for me tonight," she says.
With a smile and something almost akin to a laugh, he shakes his head and waves her away. "On me tonight."
The look on her face is one of surprise, but she appreciates it nonetheless. "Shukran." Content, Kara scampers home with her goodies.
The older Yemeni man at the bodega looks on and says in a voice that he knows only she can hear: "Keep us safe, Supergirl."