Spoilers to the beginning of the third season
Note: Andy Brown's clinic has a moosehead mounted on the wall
"Abbott and Brown: they're my favorite pair to write for." - Greg Berlanti, creator of Everwood.
Amy Abbott and Ephram Brown ? No: their fathers, Harold Abbot and Andy Brown are Berlanti's favorite pairing. Those who love docslash know that this can definitely be understood in more than one sense!
My attraction to the docs was instantaneous -- to their abrasive yet humorous relationship. Even those whose interests are relentlessly het, or who key on the teenaged characters, have to admit that Andy and Harold have amazing chemistry together. So much snark, so much wit! And under the surface rivalry, a friendship grows. Two seemingly very different men connect, and become important to each other, though each at times will deny this.
Andy Brown - A Bright Man, by Reputation
Andy's background and personality are part of Everwood's set-up. Andy Brown was once a neurosurgeon in Manhattan, and very famous indeed. After his wife's death, he quit his job, uprooted his family, and moved to Everwood, to fulfill a promise he had made to her. For it had been brought home to him how selfish a husband and father he had been - a workaholic with essentially no relationship with his children. He moved to Everwood to save himself, and to save his family. In Everwood he is learning, among other things, what it means to be a doctor when you're part of a community - when you aren't just brought in for heroic surgeries. Slowly he learns how to be a father, and a friend. Andy remains a control freak -- this is expected of a surgeon, and it's hard to change the training of a lifetime. Sometimes he's surprisingly clueless about how his actions affect others (note this deer in the headlights look here, as he realizes his mistake) . Andy means well, but meaning well isn't always enough; he's a work in progress.
Harold Abbott - A Universe of His Own
When he first appears, Harold is… not very pleasant. He is instantly hostile to Andy, insulting, unfriendly. Only over time do you learn his history, and sense his vulnerability. Harold's prickly attitude towards his hometown comes from a sense that he has failed to break away and make good in the larger world. His ambition was to become a surgeon, an ambition he gave up when he recognized genius in his fellow student, one Andrew Brown. Realizing he could never live up to such high standards, Harold returned home and joined his father's practice. He also feels he can never live up to the late, beloved by all, Dr. Harold Abbot, Senior, even in small things:
Harold: I don't need the scroll, Rose, I have the entire thing memorized, of course. My father was the crier, they talked about it for weeks. Do you think he used the scroll? ('We Hold These Truths')
Harold: My father was Rutbuck, you know. Twice. Senior members still talk about his speeches. I have to honor his memory, Rose. I have to be great. ('East Meets West')
On top of all this, he has abandonment issues, from his mother (military nurse Edna Abbot Harper) leaving her family for a tour in Vietnam, when Harold was twelve years old.
Edna: I left for the army when he was just a kid. When I came back, he created a universe with no room in it for me – rules and bedtimes and things I didn’t understand, just to make me feel left out, which it did. I didn’t get it, I thought that he was just being a brat, but I see it better now. I hurt him so he found a way of hurting me back and we just kept on doing it that way. ('Staking Claim')
Despite his uncaring mask, Harold feels deeply about things , though his caustic manner may fool you. He will fight against something strenuously, then when his heart is touched he is generous: whether providing a terminal patient with cannabis ('Vegetative State') or organizing a work crew to build the Clover Street Lighthouse. ('Three Miners from Everwood'). And he is deeply protective of his family. As his sister says:
Linda: That's what you do, Harry. When someone comes after you, you argue. But when someone comes after someone you love, the minute you see blood, you go for the throat. ('Sick')
Canon Friendship : Lunch at Mama Joy's
Andy arrives in Everwood, and annoys Harold instantly by opening a free clinic. Nonetheless, Andy tries to strike up a friendship with him, or at least become friendly colleagues. Harold will have none of it.
Andy: Is this spot taken, Doctor?
Harold: Oh that it were.
Andy: You know, I've never eaten lunch here before, just dinner. You eat here every day?
Harold: I used to.... ('Friendly Fire')
But something does happen. They do eat together at Mama Joy's almost every day , sitting next to each other, talking about medicine, arguing about politics, and giving advice.
Harold : Ever been to a shrink?
Andy: There are some things I can do on my own... you?
Harold: Ah! I'd sooner tell you my problems. ('The Doctor is In')
Though meant sarcastically, in the end it is true. They argue, they apologize. Harold insults Andy at every turn, and Andy just smiles -- he knows exactly how to gauge it, it's just Harold being Harold. When the chips are down, they help each other.
Harold for a long time refuses to consider Andy his friend. Then, in the second season, they become estranged, when Harold learns Andy has supplied Amy Abbot with birth control pills.
Harold: I have no interest in your thoughts as a doctor. You should've come to me as your friend. Yes, I know the laws as surely as I know that I would break them without a moment's hesitation if your son came to me. ('Unfinished Business')
Strong words for a friendship that 'doesn't exist'! At the end of that season, they form a joint medical practice, as a gesture of friendship and support offered and accepted.
A Step into Meta, A Corner Turned
Over time, I noticed something about the way Harold is written. Although a married man, a number of things code him as gay. He collects Broadway and movie soundtracks, he is not only involved with little theater, he's the local musical comedy star. When home alone, he chooses to watch Terms of Endearment with tissues at hand! He can be fastidious and obsessive, 'the Jack Lemmon character' (as Greg Berlanti called him), with a razor-tongued sense of humor.
All are stereotypes, of course. It is hard to believe that Everwood's creator, Greg Berlanti, isn't doing this on purpose, as a famously out gay young man. What are we to make of it? Some would say, as an in-joke, that it's certainly not to be taken seriously.
But what if we do take it seriously? What then? Then we turn the corner, and their friendship becomes an amusing but insistent courtship, with Andy as pursuer.
From the first it is obvious that Andy wants a relationship with Harold, and will not take no for an answer. On the other hand, Harold may protest, but he can't completely hide his feelings.
Harold: I only wish I could be there to see the look on that nut's face when he reads this tonight.
Amy: Who? Doctor Brown? You so have a boycrush on him.
Amy: The phone's been ringing non-stop since the paper came out. There were a bunch of phone messages on the machine.
[He scans the messages. Amy smiles, then walks away.]
Harold: Amy. Is this all of them?
Amy: Sorry, Dad. He didn't call.
Harold: (innocent face) I don't know what you mean.
Andy takes every opportunity to tease Harold about things that might cut too close to the bone:
Harold: You know he was sort of Everwood's version of Tom Cruise.
Harold: Yeah I suppose that sort appeals to a certain woman. You know the type. Rugged, athletic, young.
Andy: Why don't you ask him out, Harold? ('Colin the Second')
Andy: Well, we could do it together.
[Harold chokes on his drink.]
Andy: Make a night of it. I'll buy the wine. ('Till Death Do Us Part')
While Harold claims that Andy is "so annoying in every single aspect of his existence'"('We Hold These Truths'), he can't deny Andy's increasing importance in his life. In 'A Thanksgiving Tale,' Harold dreams of his own funeral, and is horrified to find only his family in attendance -- and Andy. Harold learns in this episode that he shouldn't ape a widespread generosity of spirit -- it doesn't ring true. The love he has he gives to his family... and yet, the dream. Andy is there, inside the magic circle.
Harold continues to resist ('We Hold These Truths'):
[Harold enters a bar; Andy is already there.]
Harold: Macallan 12, neat.
Andy: Another scotch man. We have more in common than I thought.
Harold: Make it a gin and tonic, Marty.
And Andy persists.
Harold: All you've ever done since you moved here is make people listen to you. You're Andy Brown. You meddle, you push, you enmesh and embroil. You irritate till you get your way. You're like pestilence. ('Extra Ordinary')
Andy: I think that's the longest we've ever gone without an insult.
Harold: Today's a special day for all.
In season two, when Harold's sister Linda returns to Everwood, he is perturbed to find that Andy is interested in dating her. (note: more about the women in their lives, below). He sets himself to find someone else for Linda ('Blind Faith').
Harold: Courtship is indeed a highly formalized process that requires as much focus and attention to detail as neurosurgery. No.. heck.. not neurosurgery -- any fool could perform neurosurgery.
The depth of his reaction is perhaps not only because he finds Andy so 'irritating' but because he doesn't want to share him with his sister. He makes quite a fool of himself, trying to set her up with other men. In the end, though, his feelings for both of them makes him relent.
Harold: He's a grown man. Let him decide for himself what he can and cannot handle. You deserve some happiness in your life... and so does he.
It doesn't mean he has to like it:
Andy: They're Linda's favorite. I'm stocking up: tonight's movie night.
Harold: So I heard.
Delia: Are you two in a fight?
Harold: Perpetually, child.
As mentioned above, Harold feels betrayed by Andy when he learns Andy provided birth control pills to Amy. Betrayed in a relationship he had claimed they didn't have.
Harold: I am through with you. From this day forth, you stay away from my family, keep out of their lives, and you'd best keep your distance from me. And if I don't make myself clear, I encourage you to test me. ('Unfinished Business')
Harold refuses to sit at the lunch counter if Andy is there, and refuses to exchange words with him.
Andy: If he doesn't want to be friends, that's fine with me. It's not like I'm missing anything. [Nina smiles and walks away.] ('Last Looks')
But he does miss it. In the same episode, Harold starts to leave a bar when he sees Andy is there.
Andy: Oh, are we still doing this? Come on, don't go. You're here for a reason. Why don't you let me tell you how bad I screwed up with Ephram? It'll cheer you up and not only will you be able to mock my stupidity, but you'll probably say something very wise which I could use with Ephram and pretend it was my idea. It's win-win.
When Harold says that apologies won't work, that they are no longer associated, Andy persists:
Andy: No, I don't [get it]. This is what we do. We joke. We torment, we argue. It's the only exercise we get. We've disagreed about cases before and we will again.
Harold: This was not a disagreement over medical care -- over some case. This was my daughter.
Not long afterward, Linda and Andy find they cannot stay together, and due to Linda's chronic medical condition, she cannot stay in practice with Harold. She leaves town without telling Andy goodbye... but Harold intervenes. No matter his feelings of anger, and perhaps of jealousy, he does the right thing, and gives Andy a train schedule for the Denver station.
Harold: I want you to know that this should in no way be construed as a gesture of friendship, rather a moral imperative.
Andy: You brushing up on your philosophy, Harold?
Harold: I've done my duty. Now what you do with this information is up to you.
Andy: But I don't know what this information is.
Harold: You're a bright man, at least by reputation. Figure it out.
Andy: Harold, this is a ...
Harold: Just be there, Brown.
Harold is unable to get insurance after Linda's situation became public; he opens a bagel shop, which fails. In the end, Harold is too exhausted to hold onto his anger. Andy's response is classic ('The Day is Done'):
Andy: Oh, come on. Don't give yourself so much credit, Harold. The truth is I miss having you across the street. I miss lunches with you when you pretend to ignore me. I miss you rolling your eyes in disgust at something I just said, but mostly on days like today I miss watching you screw up your life as much as I do, because when you do it, it's much funnier.
And immediately the conversation turns serious. Andy tells Harold a recurring dream he had had of late, how he'd give up all he had learned in Everwood if he could go back to his previous life. The conversation is somber and intimate; it's clear that Andy has missed this connection. And then:
Andy: Oh, I almost forgot the reason I came here.
Harold: To mock me.
To offer him a partnership.
Harold: I would need my own office and examination room.
Andy: Of course.
Harold: My own nurse?
Andy: I understand.
Harold: An equal partnership?
Harold: We would have to charge.
Andy: We could discuss the matter.
Harold: Dear God, I will live to regret this, won't I?
Andy: With any luck. Wanna shake on it?
Harold: I'll see you tomorrow
Andy: Bright and early, partner.
In the opening of the third season, ('For Every Action..'), the doctors squabble over Harold's purchase of things for the office (an ergonomic chair, a fancy coffee-make, an aquarium). They each apologize.
Andy: We're equal partners now. My moose is your moose. In fact that's why I came here this morning.
And he unwraps their new Brown & Abbott Medical Practice sign.
'Practically Canon' -- and the Women in their Lives
One of the charms of docslash is how little you have to change from canon to make it work. Once you choose to 'turn the corner,' it isn't much of a stretch to see exactly how their lives would lead to this, while keeping almost entirely in character. In fact, one comment I hear often is that Andy/Harold is 'practically canon.'
Andy in his flirtation with Harold seems completely comfortable with his sexuality. He knows that Harold is attracted to him, and suspects that Harold is only half aware of this; he doesn't hurry their relationship, though he is definitely persistent. Taken together, this leads me to believe that Andy knew and acted on his bisexuality a long time ago, in fact well before his marriage to Julia.
Julia's no-nonsense personality, and deep understanding of Andy, makes it virtually certain that she knew of his bisexuality and set a simple rule: you're with me now, you'll be true to me. It is clear that he loved her very much. This leads me to an understanding of his relationships with women in Everwood. When he has moved from his deepest grief about Julia's death, his first thought is to find a woman to fill her place in his life. It isn't like flipping a switch, after all: woman - > man. When these relationships (including one with Linda Abbott) end up going nowhere, well... there's Harold, already so important to Andy, who clearly has a crush on him. It might be time to pick up the pace in this flirtation. Hmm...let's see how this goes.
Harold's situation is much different: to say he is conflicted is an understatement. He is attracted to Andy yet shys away -- claims disdain -- but never truly leaves. He is also very much married. How does this fit together?
Harold is an eccentric, in his way. But I see him building a world of conventionality around himself. He belongs to the country club (golf and tennis lessons), and the local fraternal organization. He plays canasta with other couples. He feels threatened by the more overt eccentricity of his mother (motorcycle-riding, salty-tongued Edna).
Note the following:
Harold (to Rose): I'm scared. I don't want to change. I don't want you to change. I like things the way they are. ('Till Death Do Us Part')
Harold: You know, I never wanted excitement. Not really. I wanted... well I wanted just what I have. ('My Funny Valentine')
I see Harold as having an underlying anxiety, which leads him to want a safe and conventional life. Although certainly his mother's 'abandonment' is part of this, we also can look further.
Harold married his first and only girlfriend. They had already talked about marriage when they were very young, perhaps sixteen. I feel that Harold found Rose a safe haven, a part of the 'magic circle' that will protect him.
I see Harold as having had one or two homosexual experiences as a teenager.. which excited and frightened him. The fear, I think, came from a sense that he was already a misfit and dreaded having yet another strike against him. In my interpretation, he does fall in love with Rose, and that comes as a relief. He can be like others, he can have a conventional life, a life he can put in order and protect. When he marries Rose, his future is assured.
Enter Andy Brown, and Harold's carefully constructed world falls into disarray.
Andy/Harold works because the canon friendship works so well; they have tons of chemistry together and their scenes are a joy.
They are funny -- witty, smart. Their angstiness isn't teenaged angst, but has a life and world of pain behind it. Because they're equals, and not jockeying for power. They're playful in a way only grownups can be: unselfconscious, not afraid of looking silly.
Their love has consequences, and they know it.
The fandom and fic
Andy/Harold is a very small part of Everwood fandom, which is heavily weighted towards the teenaged characters. As far as I know, I am the only person who is currently writing docslash, and there is no general archive. There is no chaptered docslash fiction as yet.
Listed below are a few other stories that I found, some with a Colin/Ephram or Bright/Ephram component. By and large they are pre-slash/first-time stories, with the second and third Polly Burns stories moving on from there.
Five things you won't see on next week's Everwood
Talking Turkey note: added 24 May 2006
Cori Lannam - link broken, let me know if you find it archived
The Losers and the Lost
Threnody in Light and Dark
three by Polly Burns - links broken, let me know if you find it archived
Andy Brown Can't Swim
Honey in the Rock and the Sugar Don't Stop
A sample from my (chazzbanner) writing journal Bopsadaisy. There are also a number of drabbles and other docslash ficlets. I intend to add more.
Rules of the Game
Things Invisible to See
New York Plates
Seven Ways From Sunday
A Fine Mess
These are late second season and onward. Naturally the longer the series continues, the more AU this pairing will become. "Rules of the Game" is set in a slightly altered world, with all marriage/fidelity issues dealt with. It was written to show what their life might be like more or less as a couple, without the angst factor.
Colonial Boy - which is generally lighthearted, and closely connected to the episode We Hold These Truths
and the more somber
that which follows - a variation on the genre 'five things that never happened'
Here is a pair of stories, on current angst, and things left behind:
Jacob's Ladder (Andy)
and a turning point, faitly early in their relationship:
I would be happy to learn about other Andy/Harold stories, and encourage those who might like to write it to do so -- you would find a small but very grateful audience!