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Ash and his friends have finally gotten back to Petalburg City, where May and Max are looking forward to seeing their family, and Ash is after another Gym Battle. As they walk through downtown, they spot yet another poster of Norman, and realize he must be pretty famous and idolized here as well. Max and May already knew this, of course, and that he's been undefeated for a while. However, Ash is pretty motivated and confident about beating him, especially after having gone to the Pokemon Center a zillion times. Max and May aren't too sure about that…
While Ash splits up and goes to heal at the Pokemon Center, Max and May drop by at home for a visit and a pit stop, and boast about their progress and captures. When they get there, a young lad named Kinji greets them at the doorstep. They all seem to know him, Max and May explain that this guy is one of Norman's best students, and he's a good cleaning man like Brock. However, Brock happened to meet him and get acquainted with him back when he was on his way from Pewter City to meet up with Ash and friends in Hoenn, so he knows him too. Max and May ask him if their dad knows that they're around, but then he quickly changes to a suspicious tone and says that he's out doing some… business. Then, he whispers to them something about not to worry, he'll explain everything soon, but now is not the time. This leaves them utterly confused, but before they can say anything, Caroline, their mother comes and greets them!
As they say their hellos, they trample her with hugs, and say that they've been on quite a big adventure. However, before they explain, they ask where their dad is… and Caroline stops dead at that mention. Kinji then hears what's going on, and quickly interrupts and change the subject and starts cleaning the area, and asks them to tell more about their adventure. So, Caroline invites them all in for lunch, and asks Brock to possibly help out a bit (of course, Kinji sighs about his job being taken away… déjŕ vu!).
Meanwhile, Ash and Pikachu have arrived at the Pokemon Center, and Ash is surprised to see that aside from Nurse Joy being there, Norman is leaning over the front desk engaged in a deep conversation with her. Of course, while that can be taken suspiciously in many ways, Ash is only psyched about having that battle, so the sight of Norman alone is enough to get him going. Ash quickly runs up to reunite with him, and is excited to prove that he's gotten stronger. He feels even more special that Norman actually remembers him, but then he realizes that's not really a surprise since he's a friend of his children. He sure does have a lot to talk to Norman about. His 4 Pokemon captures… his having won four badges… Norman's impressed with all that, and feels that he can now take Ash on in a proper Gym battle for once, 3 on 3. Joy then comments about how Norman is a great Gym leader (and also mentions something under her breath about his good looks). Norman slightly blushes and thanks her, while Joy happily heals Ash's Pokemon. NOW Ash is starting to come to his senses of suspicion.
Meanwhile, Team Rocket are hiding out in the nearby jungle, trying to devise a new plan to become popular, since last time didn't work. After much deliberation, Meowth remembers that the twerps are going to the Gym for a battle, and perhaps they can use the old hide-underground-and-snag trick…
Back at their lodge, Max and May are eating and bragging about their journeys, and adventures with Team Rocket, who are like Team Magma and Aqua, but don't function much here in Hoenn. Then May scolds Max for making an impression of bragging about an evil organization, and Max slightly apologizes. Then they tell them a little about their other friend Ash, who's a great trainer and has four badges, and he's here to challenge dad once again… and once again, Caroline stops dead in her cooking at that mention. Kinji then quickly walks in and steers them off that subject by asking to tell a bit more about their adventure, and what kinds of Pokemon they captured. May mentions that her best Pokemon now is Beautifly… and Caroline goes even sourer at the mention of Beautifly! Kinji, who can't think of a safe way to explain this situation, quickly stands in the way so they can't see their mom's reaction, while Max brags about how Beautifly got her to win some contests. Caroline is now nearly losing her temper, but Kinji can't let them see that, so he tries to console her and calm her down and not be that sensitive. So then, with a tone of sadness in her voice, she tries her best to act happy for them. But the mystery about why Caroline gets so uptight about Beautifly still remains unsolved.
After lunch, Kinji takes Max, May, and Brock out into the nearby woods where Norman trains to explain the situation. He begins to warn them that this may give them a nasty shock, but before he gets to it, Max jumps in excitement. They turn around, and notice their old friend Vigoroth hanging from a branch. Then they remember that exact same Vigoroth battling Ash's Pikachu, and know that he'll have to face it again. Max is pretty sure he won't stand a chance, that Vigoroth is pretty tough. May then notices him hugging it, and isn't sure if he's supporting Vigoroth or his dad more. Kinji is still waiting patiently for an opportunity to explain the situation… but is then interrupted by a Slakoth hanging from that tree as well! May, interested, gets a bit of data on Slakoth from the 'Dex. They explain to Brock that this is also Norman's, and Ash will have to face it as well. However, it's rather lazy compared to its evolution, Vigoroth. Kinji is now desperate to get to the point, but then Max points to a Slaking resting nearby! May grabs some info from the PokeDex again, and Max realizes that since this is Vigoroth's evolution, it must be their dad's best Pokemon. Now, Kinji is getting sick of waiting, so he asks them to kindly listen to him.
As they crowd around, he whispers that rumor has it that… Norman is in love with the local Nurse Joy! Max and May gasp (and Brock too, because he's jealous of Norman). Kinji explains that he's never openly admitted it, but he hasn't been to the house in a long time, and has been acting shady. And one time he accidentally overheard them doing some slight flirting with each other. Max and May are nearly too shocked to ask anything, but Max is still wondering about the Beautifly thing. Kinji explains that when they got married, their most memorable romantic moment was in a field of flowers and Beautifly, so whenever they think of Beautifly, they think of their romance. But now with all this, its no wonder she wouldn't want to hear about Beautifly, especially since that cute picture of them there was stored away by Caroline when she started going through this tough time. Just then, their buddy Ash finds them in that secret hideout, and then May and co remember where Ash has been…
Team Rocket are also in the woods, and they notice the twerps, and are ready to devise a plan to steal Pikachu. However, Meowth suggests they snag Slakoth, Vigoroth, and Slaking instead, since they would make good presents for the boss. Vigoroth to wake him up, and Slakoth and Slaking to help him relax after a long day's work. Team Rocket love that idea and decide to go through with it.
The first thing Ash says when he meets them is that he saw their father, Norman, and he seems to be doing good. He was also talking to Joy about something, but he couldn't exactly tell. Now, it all connects to the rest of them, even more evidence. Once again, they ask Ash if he managed to pick up anything odd in their conversation, involving romance. Then he mentions he saw them both blushing… and they stop Ash and thank him saying that's enough evidence. Then, while they explain to him what they know about what's going on, Brock puts on an act and calls himself “The master of love” and runs off to the center, and claims he's gonna get to the bottom of this (Yeah, right…). The others aren't so sure, knowing Brock and his antics when it comes to stuff like this, so they decide to follow him in case he does anything stupid. That is, everyone but Ash. He's still somewhat confused, and yells at them to wait up… but before he can catch up to him, Vigoroth falls on him from the tree, surprising him. Surely Ash and Pikachu recognize it from their initial battle with Norman, so they greet each other once again. Vigoroth happens to remember them too.
As the rest of them arrive at the center, they see Norman leaning over the front desk in a deep conversation with Joy, which is enough to make them nervous. Now, if the Joy back at N Petalburg recognized them, the Joy here would surely recognize them, which she does, and tells Norman that they're there. They all greet him, and pretend they don't know anything, as he asks about their journey. But they're too shocked to talk, but Brock is still a bit blind to what's happening and is a little jealous of Norman. Norman also knows Brock from when he visited that time, but he didn't know about how horny he is. Quickly, Brock runs and starts flirting with Joy as usual, but Kinji gets mad and pulls him away.
Back in the jungle, Team Rocket arrive at a door, which they think is the Gym. As they go in, they notice a machine, and immediately realizes it isn't. Jessie remembers that the Gym is in the other direction.
In another part of the jungle training area, it's finally time for Ash to meet its other two opponents, Slakoth and Slaking. He introduces himself and Pikachu to Slakoth, but Slaking is still sleeping. Hopefully he'll be ready to face them soon…
Back at the Center, Brock has finally lost is marbles, and blows up at Norman about how Caroline is worried sick at home about him, and some other crap about how Joy is meant to be with HIM instead of Norman (you the man, Brock). Kinji then gets extremely aggravated, and pulls Brock away again, dragging him out. Even May is stunned at Brock pulling something like that.
Suddenly, a very angry Caroline appears in the doorway, and tells him off for what she knows. Everyone is surprised to see her, especially Norman. When she asks for an explanation, he says he's just visiting, and they all fall over. They keep trying to squeeze it out of him, but he openly denies it and stays silent, even when Kinji asks him. He'd never lie to Kinji.
In the woods, Team Rocket see Ash and Pikachu sitting with the Slakoth line trio, and jump out at a perfect opportunity. They say their motto and stuff, and attack Ash with Seviper and Cacnea. He's gonna have to think fast…
Back at the Center, there's a big affair brawl going on. Norman feels bad about what he's done, and says he loves Caroline with all his heart, but its hard for Caroline to forgive him. The kids are of course on the side that they should unite as a family once again. As the argument continues, Max breaks out into tears, and goes on about how he misses living with them as a family, and he loves them both deeply, and that his father is like a hero to him, and he doesn't know what he'd do if they were apart (Aww… what an emotional moment). Caroline is actually really touched by Max's words, as is Norman. Now it looks like he's given them something to think about, since they both deeply love their children…
Seviper attacks Pikachu with Poison Tail, while Cacnea attacks the three sloths with Pin Missile. While they all run with Ash (except Slaking who's still asleep), Seviper fires another Poison Tail, breaking the door to that place down and knocking them all out. Suddenly, to his luck, Norman, Joy, Caroline, Kinji, and the kids come to the rescue! Norman is the only one that can control them, and he looks especially angry they attack with Poison Tail and Pin Missile, destroying that machine! With rage, Norman yells in a booming voice for Slaking to wake up. It may be heavy sleeping, but it can hear him. Slaking then charges at them angrily, and fires a Focus Punch, blasting them to oblivion.
However, Norman is still angry that his fireworks machine has been destroyed. That's a real disappointment to everyone else as well, but Joy happens to have the potential to fix it. Norman gladly thanks Joy, but Caroline looks a bit jealously paranoid again… until Brock comes and starts flirting with Joy, only to be dragged away by Max. When Joy finishes fixing it, they set off fireworks… and realize a few seconds later that the fireworks are shaped like Beautifly! Joy also feels bad about what she did, so she had these Beautifly fireworks all planned so they can celebrate the reunion of Norman and Caroline! Everyone cheers as they hug once again, happily ever after.
While Norman goes in to get some more drinks, Caroline tells them about their wedding and their honeymoon, and the symbolism of Beautifly to them. Then he comes back, thanks Ash for saving his Pokemon, and tells him that he has convinced him he is a worthy trainer, and he can have the battle tomorrow. Max, however, still insists that Ash doesn't stand a chance, but Ash is motivated as usual. May seems to have mixed feelings about who will win, and who to root for… well, that will all be determined tomorrow!
Thanks To Spinazak For Writing this for us
345: Love, Petalburg Style!
345: Petalburg Gym Crisis! Household Crisis!!
Ash & Co Arrive in Petalburg City