Title: "The Legend of Ed & Larry"
Author: Dafna G. (beruria@eskimo.com)
Rating: PG
Archive: Yes to Laura S. Others, please ask first.
Written: January 2001, first posted March 2001
Notes: Not really slash. Maybe metaslash, if such a category existed.
Summary: You don't earn an ampersand with a few lunches.
In honor of Deborah, the TWP recapper responsible for the recent Ed & Larry shout-outs.

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JOSH: Do the two of you ever go anywhere separately? ED: It's weird, isn't it? JOSH: It's a little weird, yeah. -- "100,000 Airplanes"

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The Legend of Ed & Larry by Dafna G.

It was Larry who had the idea first. Or maybe it was Ed. Of course, back then Ed kept getting Larry mixed up with Steve (not *that* Steve -- Campaign Steve). So maybe it had been Campaign Steve's idea originally, but in the end it was Ed and Larry who carried out. Or Fred and Larry, since Larry didn't realize he'd been calling him by the wrong first name and Ed was too polite to mention it. (Staff Secret Santa that first year straightened everything out.)

It was just after Steve (*that* Steve) had resigned in a blaze of tabloid photos and Campaign Steve was spending all his time convincing his West Wing colleagues that he wasn't *that* Steve but, in fact, an upstanding Presbyterian with three kids in grade school.

"They have no idea who we are," said Larry. (or Ed.)

Ed (or Larry) chewed his lunch agreeably, with no real idea what the other was talking about.

"Look at them," Larry (let's call him Larry and be done with it) said, pointing toward the other side of the mess. Toby and Sam were writing things down on napkins, ignoring CJ and Josh, who were arguing loudly. Every so often disconnected phrases would drift over to the other side of the room. Ed had heard "dictatorship of small minds" and "pompous jackass" before Larry sat down at his table.

"They don't know who we are," Larry repeated. "We're all just a mass of junior staffdom."

Ed considered Larry's point. He wasn't sure that anonymity was necessarily a bad thing. The junior White House staffers history remembered tended to be the ones who did 18 months in Danbury. He pointed this out to Larry, along with the suggestion that if he, Larry, wanted to be the one Josh Lyman tapped for midnight shredding, that was more than fine with him, Ed. Anyway, he had some Xeroxing to do for Sam.

"This is what I'm talking about," Larry said. "Why are you doing Sam's Xeroxing? He has administrative assistants to do that."

"I think he thinks I'm one of them."

"Exactly. And you're nothing of the sort. Why, you're -- what's your title again?"

"Senior assistant deputy to the assistant --"

"Never mind," Larry said, cutting Ed off. "Titles aren't important. What matters is access."

"And to get access," Ed mused, "they need to know who you are."

"Exactly. Now, how do we distinguish ourselves from the rest of the junior staffers?"

"Well, Steve ..."

"Without violating the Mann Act."

Ed looked at Larry. "I take it you have a plan."

"Indeed I do." Larry rubbed his hands together.

Ed waited. "Well?"

"OK, let me try a little word association on you first," said Larry, who'd clearly been spending too much time around the president.

Ed, who'd clearly been spending too much time around Toby, struggled not to roll his eyes.

"Josh," said Larry.

"Lyman," Ed responded promptly.

Larry did roll his eyes. "Last names aren't allowed. Try again: 'Josh.' "

"Sam."

"Very good," Larry praised. "Now, here's the essay question: Why?"

"Why?"

"Why does everyone think of Josh and Sam together? Why, when you see Sam, do you expect to see Josh?"

"They work together."

"Barely," Larry pointed out. "Josh is the deputy White House chief of staff. Sam is the chief speechwriter. Technically, Josh is Sam's boss' boss."

"Well, they're friends."

"OK, getting warm," Larry said.

"They're *not* friends?"

"No, of course they are. But so are Josh and Leo -- and, of course, they work together, but if I were to say "Leo McGarry" to you, who's the first person to come to mind?"

"The president."

"Exactly," Larry was beaming now. "You see what I'm getting at?"

"Not even a little bit."

"For whatever reason," Larry said, "the successful men in this White House come in pairs. Josh and Sam, the president and Leo ..."

"Er, what about Toby?"

Larry, warming to his theme, ignored him and continued. "In fact, that's true not just here, but in many other fields: Batman and Robin, Laurel and Hardy, Kirk and Spock, Siskel and Ebert -- those two guys on that sports show."

By now, Ed was catching on. "So, you're saying the way we make ourselves stand out is to join up -- become "Ed and Larry".

"I think 'Larry and Ed' has a better ring to it, but yeah, basically."

"Who's Robin in this hypothetical duo?" Ed asked.

"We don't have to decide that now," Larry dismissed with a wave. "We're still young junior staffers making our mark. You think Leo called the president 'sir' 30 years ago?"

"OK," Ed conceded. "I like this plan. So what -- we just have lunch together a lot?"

"No, no, no," said Larry. "You missed my earlier point about Josh and Sam. You don't earn an ampersand with a few lunches. It takes more than that." He looked at Ed meaningfully. "Much more."

"Um, if you're talking about the rumors about the DNC convention."

"I am."

"OK, here is where I get off this bus," Ed held up his hands in protest. "I don't know what you've heard, but I have a girlfriend and ..."

"Dude, you're missing the point," said Larry, impatient. "We don't need to actually ... you know, *do* anything. You think the president and Leo are *actually* getting it on in the Oval Office?"

"Um ..."

"Of course not," Larry dismissed. "When would they have the time? When would Josh and Sam have the time? But it's the *possibility* that makes them so intriguing."

"That may be true, but ..."

"Still not convinced?" said Larry. "Then let me give you a word of advice, my friend. In fact, two words on the fate of White House workers who show no chemistry with their colleagues: Mandy Hampton."

Ed blanched. "OK, I'm in. Where do we start?"

"Well, we don't want to be too overt at first," Larry said. "Otherwise, the others will catch on and we'll be competing with the likes of Luke and Michael."

"Who?"

"Exactly," said Larry. "I'm thinking we start slow -- sit next to each other at meetings, answer questions addressed to the other, that kind of thing."

"Won't that just confuse them as to who's who?" Ed asked.

"Doesn't matter," Larry said. "As long as they get one of our names, we're still differentiating ourselves from the herd.

"Now, in phase two, we ramp it up. We start going everywhere together. They ask for one of us -- both of us show up."

"And phase three?" Ed asked.

"Phase three is easy," Larry said. "A few lingering glances and a perfectly wholesome friendship is turned into the stuff of legend."

"And legends," here Larry leaned in and looked at Ed significantly, "don't have to do Xeroxing."

*end*

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