The most well-kept secret of National City lay just beneath the feet of its unsuspecting citizens, all carved out by hand over the past two decades. Some were narrow, tight, and barely recognizable even to those who had built them. Others opened up into wide catacombs of densely packed dirt and brick. Many had caved in at one point or another, leaving dead ends and death traps—a cold and ruthless maze for those brave enough, or maybe just foolish enough, to traverse the paths on their own. The winding miles of tunnels stretched the length of National City, connecting over half of its establishments in some way or another.
All were designed for the secret transport of bathtub gin and spirits around the city, and all of them were, of course , owned by the Luthors.
Lionel had made a name for his family in the city. Everyone knew them, and more dangerously, everyone owed them. Even when news of the 21st amendment had quickly made its way down from Roosevelt through the states and spirits had started flowing freely, Lionel was not soon going to forget.
He was going to collect on those debts, by any means necessary … unless someone stopped him.
Lena checked the watch wrapped around her delicate wrist as she slipped into the near-deserted library. It was quarter to eight, almost closing. She quickly skirted around the bookshelves, avoiding any stragglers, and made her way to the office tucked away in the far back corner. Her eyes caught those of the librarian tidying up behind the center desk. For a brief moment they held, an understanding passing between them. Then, Lena nodded politely to her. She received a tense nod in return, before the librarian resolutely turned and looked the other way, as Lena slipped into the office.
God, she’d made this trip so, so many times in the past, but tonight…
Tonight, it was different. She took a deep, centering breath and refused to let her hands tremble, as she pushed aside a cart and unpinned one corner of a large, yellowing reading poster. Behind it lay a dark abyss, into which Lena hurriedly began to crawl.
On the other side of the roughly hewn tunnel, Lena stepped out into a chilly, dark chamber. The smell of damp soil and the echoing plop of water droplets wrapped comfortably around her. It would have been almost soothing in its familiarity, if not for the chill that seeped through her long coat with ease. A shiver ran through her as she waited. It felt as though an inordinate amount of time had passed, in her trembling unease, awaiting a rendezvous that may never come to pass. She scoffed as a glance at her watch in the perpetually dim space showed mere minutes had ticked by, instead of the long hours that weighed on her.
Lena slipped a hand down the center of her blouse, pulling out a cigarette and lighter. It offered a muted, orange glow to her face as she settled the lit smoke between her lips.
“What’s a beautiful dame like yourself doin’ alone in a place like this?” a voice behind her said, startling her strongly enough to drop the cigarette.
Lena gasped and whipped around to see the outline of a figure dressed smartly in a trench coat and a wide brim hat that sat low over her eyes. It covered golden locks that glimmered unmistakably in the dull, hazy lighting. The figure had already pulled a pack of cigarettes from the pocket of her worn, gray coat and was shaking out another to offer as payment for the one still smoldering in the dirt below, with just a hint of red lipstick coating the butt.
“Damn you, Kara,” Lena hissed as she evened her breathing, a hand pressed firmly to her bare sternum.
“I’m sorry, darlin’,” Kara soothed, sidling forward into Lena’s space. “I didn’t mean to spook you so terribly.” An apologetic smile was just barely visible in the shadows, and the cigarette was still held aloft in offering. The hand that settled gently on Lena’s shoulder was comforting and well-known—and many times well-loved, if she were being truthful. Lena reached past the offered smoke and wrapped her fingers around the red tie just peeking through the open trench coat, situated ever so neatly amongst a navy suit that fit the detective far too deliciously. She pulled Kara in for a quick, but thorough kiss that left her eyes glassy and her lips smeared with red. The new tilt of her hat, just barely clinging to her head, made Lena chuckle low and deep, as she resettled it on the detective.
“I know, dear.” Lena’s smile was wicked as she turned and continued to tug Kara by her tie deeper into the darkness.
“Wha… Lena, wait.” Kara reached up to grab the arm currently leading her forward like a naughty puppy on a leash.
The tie just gave a stronger tug, followed by a teasing, “Uh-uh. Come along, Detective.”
“Lena…” Kara reached forward into the dark and wrapped her arm around Lena’s waist, pulling her back against her chest. “ Lena , what are we doing down h—”
Lena twisted sharply within her constraints to face Kara, pushing a finger to her lips but never conceding her momentum. She backed them up three more steps before reaching down her blouse to, again, retrieve her lighter. The way Kara’s eyes tracked the motion, lingering on skin exposed by her low collar, had Lena smirking. She pressed close, letting her body smooth along Kara’s, as she tugged at one of her golden curls. “I thought you wanted a chance to get the skinny on the Luthors, finally get them behind bars.”
Kara’s eyes widened and abandoned the stretch of pale skin to study Lena’s face. “You know the department has been after your old man since the day his bathtub gin hit every back room in National City.”
“And you know that I’ve never had any problem with him supplying a few people with a few drinks,” Lena said, sharply. Her eyes were hard as they stared into Kara’s.
The detective snorted, knowing it was far more than ‘ a few ’, but nodded in agreement. “I know, doll. I know,” she said, softly, wrapping both arms around Lena in placation. She swayed them gently, and nudged her nose against Lena’s temple. Feeling the baby hairs there tickle her lips, she whispered, “But he and his goons. What they’re up to now…”
“I know,” Lena cut her off. “I’ve seen it, and I know . He has to be stopped.”
They stayed there, a moment, savoring each other’s warmth, before the energy began to roil beneath Lena’s skin in the darkness. One arm slithered up over the back of Kara’s neck, pulling the detective down to her. Kara’s earlobe was just within reach, and her teeth raked over it as she hummed. “I’ve told you about the tunnels, Kara. I’ve told you.” Lena’s breath danced hotly over her cheek, the kiss pressed there feeling almost like a warning. “They’re impossible to navigate alone. You’ll die in them—” Kara tensed in Lena’s arms. “—so I’m coming with you.”
The room around them flooded with a warm brightness as a torch burned to life beside them. Flicking away her lighter, Lena pulled it from its home on the wall and tugged out of Kara’s arms. She scurried out of reach, taking the ring of light with her. Kara blinked rapidly, dazed. “Lena, wh—”
“There’s a torch there to your right, handsome. Grab it, and I’ll give you a light.” Lena’s voice echoed through the empty space, floating playfully between Kara’s ears.
Kara grabbed the other from its casing. “How do you even know your way around these tunnels?”
“A gal’s gotta keep herself entertained somehow, now, doesn’t she?” Lena winked, and the dangerous gleam twinkling in her eyes shined brightly even in the dull lighting, before she turned tail, marching towards one of several dark openings scattered about the space.
When Lena still didn’t hear footsteps following her own, she paused, turning to Kara. “Listen,” she called out, one hand settled on her hip as the other held her torch aloft. “I know where they’re keeping the books. His ledger. Everything.” Kara’s eyes snapped up in surprise, and Lena cocked a single brow, a small smile playing at the corner of her lips. “But they won’t be there for long.”
Lena and the light then retreated down the tunnel. Kara adjusted her tie and was quick to follow.