A/N: Couple things about this story:
1) Norman is slightly OOC (or really OOC, actually), because I just loved the idea of him being completely serious for everything but his daughter's future relationship. That stemmed from several fanfictions and fanarts with similar ideas. You have been warned.
2) This is a weird mix between the games (Sapphire and Emerald) and the manga. I changed the timeline of events around a little at parts, I added things from the manga that weren't in the games, and it basically bounces around. And towards the end it derails from both completely. Get your seatbelts on. :P
3) The relationship between Norman and Birch is meant to somewhat mirror that of Turk and JD from Scrubs. I don't particularly like the show, but I love their "bromance."
4) This is meant to be crack. Hopefully it's well-written crack, but crack nonetheless. Enjoy?
Caroline couldn't believe what she was hearing. Her normally stoic husband shouldn't have thoughts like that. It was really quite out of character, and she wasn't sure how to respond. So she simply stared at him, one hand on her pregnant belly, and repeated, "You've already promised the Birches that their son can marry our unborn daughter?"
Norman beamed at his wife, positively ecstatic that she understood so perfectly, "Exactly! Isn't it a brilliant idea?"
She thought back to their first anniversary as a couple, back to when he'd proposed, their wedding day, the day she announced the pregnancy. And even through those milestones, Norman had never looked quite as excited as he did right now. Caroline raised an eyebrow, wishing not for the first time that her husband wasn't quite so close to his best friend.
Oblivious to her thoughts, he continued, sounding pleased, "Birch and I agreed on it years ago. Now it's finally coming true." And he beamed at her, his eyes glazing over at the thought of future years.
Caroline felt she owed her husband nothing less than the honest truth. "Norman… that's sort of gay," she replied, ignoring his crestfallen face as she turned over and went to sleep.
They met just months after the birth, when Brendan was almost a year old and May had cleared the six month mark. The Birches grabbed passage on the SS Anne, traveling to Johto to pay their old friends a visit. Norman immediately took charge of May, flocking off with Birch to allow their children time to meet, despite the fact that both were merely infants and wouldn't remember the encounter anyway.
Birch's wife took up position with Caroline, helping cook while they watched their husbands through the window above the kitchen sink. Birch was directing Brendan towards May, pleading with the one-year-old to stop eating grass and go meet his future wife. Caroline rolled her eyes.
"Do you think this is as stupid as I do?" she asked Birch's wife.
The woman laughed, "Yes. But my husband gets so excited about it, so I let him have his fun."
"They won't really get married, will they?"
"Probably not. But for their sake," she gestured towards the adult men, who were acting very much like giggling teenage girls as the two children finally developed a vague interest in each other, "I hope there's at least a little romance."
"I hope there isn't," Caroline replied, drying a nearby plate with a Pikachu-dotted dish towel. "It'd be fuel for a very strange fire."
Birch's wife glanced out the window again and chuckled, "Well, it looks like you won't have to worry."
Outside, Brendan was pulling May's brown hair with vigor akin to a gardener exterminating a particularly stubborn weed. May was sobbing and both fathers quite clearly had absolutely no clue how to handle the situation.
Caroline rolled her eyes at her supposedly competent husband and his best friend.
Life got in the way after that, what with Birch making a name for himself as the pokémon professor of Hoenn, and Norman bettering his skills as a trainer in order to become a gym leader one day. Caroline played the role of mother well, nurturing her child to be independent and strong. Norman taught May about pokémon, and it wasn't a surprise that by the time she was eight years old, she was already making plans to be a pokémon master.
When she turned nine, Norman decided she'd been kept away from her future husband long enough, so he started studying for the gym leader exam in Hoenn, preparing his mind and his pokémon for the battle ahead.
By the time May's tenth birthday rolled around, Norman had been promised his dream position at the Petalburg Gym, just two towns away from his beloved best friend and his equally-beloved future son-in-law.
It took another year, but he managed to convince his wife that a move from Johto would, in fact, be beneficial to everyone. And, seeing the sparkle in her husband's eyes as he spoke of Hoenn, she decided to humor him. So they moved to a tiny town called Littleroot.
Norman failed to mention that there were only two houses in Littleroot, one of them being her new home and the other belonging to the Birches. She was less than amused.
When May first met Brendan (at least, to her recollection), she was pretty sure he was gay. His room was too tidy, his appearance too clean, and though he claimed to be a trainer, he had sewing needles and fabric where his pokéballs should be.
And his aspiration—to win all the Contests in Hoenn? She laughed outright, ignoring his fuming expression and his clenched fists.
"All right, what are you going to do, then?" he snapped.
"I'm challenging the gyms, of course," she retorted, hand on her hip as she snickered at his dorky glasses and stupid hat.
Brendan folded his arms, "Yes, because that shows so much more. 'Ooh, I can battle!' Get in line, May. Everyone can battle."
May clenched her fists and punched him.
From ten steps away, hiding behind a particularly large bush, Birch and Norman exchanged proud glances. Obviously it was going well.
They didn't travel together, much to their fathers' disappointment. Caroline received weekly phone calls from her daughter, and Norman had to rely solely on what his wife told him, none of which pertained to a certain future son-in-law. Norman pouted at his wife through the video call.
"Why doesn't she ever call me?" he whined.
Caroline rolled her eyes. She swore that ever since May was born her husband had become completely bipolar. He could be utterly serious and battle with amazing strength one second, but the minute anyone mentioned his daughter and Brendan, the man became a quibbling mess.
"Because, dear, every time she talks with you, you pester her with questions about him." She reminded Norman patiently. They went over this about once a week. "In case you haven't noticed, May doesn't really get along with Brendan."
"Nonsense!" Norman yelled, startling a trainer who was waiting anxiously to challenge him. Caroline snorted and diverted the conversation.
But the seed of doubt had been planted.
When May became strong enough to finally challenge her father, she was nervous and excited and scared and thrilled all at once. She couldn't wait to show him how strong she'd become, how vigorously she'd trained her precious pokémon for this battle. If she could beat him, it would be a milestone on her journey. All the other gyms had just been preparing her for this moment.
Norman looked up when she walked into the gym, casually getting to his feet upon seeing his daughter. He studied her for a moment, silent, and she gripped a pokéball with determination.
"Dad, I'm here to challenge you to a battle."
He said nothing for a moment, looking her up and down, and then he replied, almost eager, "I'll give you the badge if you go on a date with Brendan."
She gaped at him, incredulous and a little offended.
And Norman beamed, certain she'd accept his ingenious offer.
"Maybe if you'd battled her the right way, this wouldn't have happened!" Caroline snapped, gripping her husband by the arm and pointing to the news program, which depicted a fierce battle between May and a character dressed in blue along the perilous summit of Mt. Chimney. The person filming was obviously on a flying pokémon, taping the action as their daughter progressed through the ranks of Team Aqua members to confront the leader, who was standing beside a strange machine.
Norman was silent, watching his daughter decimate each and every person who stood in her way, and rather than be frightened for her, he felt a swell of pride. She would have defeated him in battle anyway, and he knew she'd be back to challenge him at the Petalburg Gym again once she finished on Mt. Chimney.
His eyes drifted, and he noticed a new person running towards the battle she was about to start with the leader of those hooligans. And his smile grew as he recognized Brendan's white hat, and the Marshtomp he'd sent out in support of May's Combusken.
"She'll be fine," he finally assured his wife, watching as the happy couple easily pounded the Team Aqua leader into submission.
He supposed this would have to be sufficient for now. After all, a double pokémon battle was practically a date anyway.
May was pretty sure it happened when he pushed her out of the way of Archie's attacks, sending his Swampert to battle the pokémon that had very nearly drowned her. They fought, Brendan completely trusting his pokémon to hold off the Carvanha while he tended to the soaked and chilled May.
"Thanks," she said, shivering as she recalled her Blaziken. "It didn't stand a chance against the water pokémon."
He rolled his eyes, "Obviously not, idiot," he replied, but he wrapped his jacket around her anyway, helping her stand.
She scowled at him, "Aren't you supposed to be participating in some contest somewhere? Why do you keep popping up?"
"Because you can't do this alone," he said, and his eyes, so dark they were almost crimson, told her that it wasn't an insult, but a plea to let him help.
She decided then that she didn't completely hate him, after all.
But toleration was as far as it went.
The two of them turned back to the Team Aqua leader, united against a common enemy.
Birch and Norman regrouped for their monthly meeting, the obvious topic of discussion the same as always.
"They're not dating yet," Norman huffed. "They aren't even travelling with each other."
"They have different goals," Birch replied logically. "But they saved Hoenn together—that has to mean something, right?" His tone wavered slightly; he wasn't quite sure he completely believed himself, but it was the best explanation he could procure to his son's dissatisfying actions.
Norman nodded along, "If not now, then certainly once they achieve their ultimate goals and come back home to settle down."
Birch grinned at the idea, "Exactly. They can't avoid each other when they live next door."
"Of course not."
But both men knew there was always another option with their kids. They hadn't done anything the normal way up to that point, and they probably wouldn't follow the pattern after May became a pokémon champion and Brendan a proficient Contest winner.
After a few minutes of silence, where both of them came to that same realization, Norman's brows furrowed, "We need a new plan."
Caroline picked up the phone, smiling as the image of her daughter flickered onto the screen before her, "Hello, May."
"Hey, mom," the young girl looked around warily. "Dad's not around, is he?"
"No, he's at the gym again."
"Good. Mom, I have to tell you something, but you can't let dad know, all right?" she sounded nervous, her fingers fiddling with her bag as she avoided her mother's eyes. Caroline frowned, immediately assuming worried-mother-mode. She waited for May to continue, imagining every worst possible scenario.
"Brendan…" May cringed, obviously displeased with the memory, "kissed me."
Caroline stared at her daughter, unsure of how to proceed. On the one hand, she was ecstatic that her daughter finally had her first kiss, and that it was to a good friend and not some random guy at a wild party. But on the other hand, did it have to be Brendan she kissed? The woman had nothing against him—he was a level-headed, if not a bit odd, young man, and the two of them fought like a married couple, which was amusing to see—but if Norman caught wind of this…
Caroline groaned, imagining her husband's ecstatic reaction. She wouldn't see him for a week, he'd be so busy rejoicing with Birch.
But May, obviously unable to read her mom's thoughts, only heard the groan. She winced in response, "I know, it's a bad idea. We're friends, sort of, and this would just complicate things. Not to mention I'm about to challenge the Elite Four, and he just left to win the last of his contest ribbons, and the timing couldn't be worse since we're both about to become really famous, and—"
"May, sweetie," Caroline cut her off. "If you like Brendan, I think you should look at this as a positive experience."
May bit her lip, "I do like him, I guess. I mean, when I don't hate him, that is."
"Then nothing should hold you back," Caroline replied, giving her a reassuring smile. May's lips quirked in response, and she nodded.
"But honey, if you let your father know about this, I will ground you until you die."
It was over. They were champions, in their own rights. May had conquered the Elite Four with grace and style, although there were a few moments in the final battle against Steven that gave her pause. Brendan's beautiful pokémon wore their Master Rank ribbons with pride, even though his final win was a narrow one against some glamorous gym leader with a Whiscash.
They returned to Littleroot for a short period of time to reconnect with their families and remember life before their impacting journeys. A secret romance bloomed, and the fact that they kept it a secret until May's thirteenth birthday was nothing short of amazing, considering their fathers had reached the stalker point somewhere along the line.
And when May had a party to celebrate growing a year older, Brendan's gift was to give her a swift kiss on the lips and announce to all the guests present that they were officially dating.
May and Caroline stared at him in horror, and their glances slid to Norman and Birch, who had tears streaming down their faces at the declaration. "Why would you do that?" May hissed to Brendan.
He blinked, "I thought we both agreed it was growing tiresome to keep it a secret. I figured now was the best time to let everyone know so we don't have to hide anymore."
"Now is not the best time," May snapped. "There is never a 'best time,' not with these two hanging around," she jerked a thumb at their fathers. "Don't you realize they'll be demanding details until we're married?"
Brendan looked at his father for the first time, noticing that Birch was already uncorking a rather expensive bottle of champagne dating twenty-one years back. From the way Norman was bouncing around, he guessed they'd been saving it for this exact moment (he couldn't know that they bought it when they made the pact to wed their children). He paled, finally understanding what he'd just done.
"They won't let us be, will they?" he whispered.
"No," Caroline answered for her daughter, clenching her fists. "I've half a mind to skin you myself, Brendan."
"We can't keep dating," May said resolutely. "I'm sorry, but it'll just cause a world of hurt."
He nodded, quirking a grin at her, "Friends, then?"
She regarded him critically, the spark of a rival once again igniting in her blue eyes, "Maybe."
In the background, finally registering the undoing of years of hard work and blatant obsessing, Norman and Birch stared at their children and cried, but for an entirely different reason now. And Caroline met Birch's wife's gaze, and the two mothers laughed happily.
A/N: Crack. So yeah, there are plot holes. But hopefully it was somewhat amusing for you all. :)
And I love reviews, even though this particular pairing doesn't appear to have a very wide fanbase. :P