Chapter 37: Hope

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Kushina Uzumaki looked at the man that stood before her, her mouth wide open in shock after hearing him call her mom. He had shaggy golden blond hair, just like Naruto and Minato had. His clothes were torn to shreds and his body was covered in dirt and grime. His eyes were shedding tears as if there were no tomorrow, but she could still clearly see the the single sky blue eye in one eye socket and a purple eye with multiple circles on it, something she recognized as the Rinnegan. 

"Who are you?" She asked, more confused than frightened, which would have been a normal woman's reaction. 

"I'm your-" Naruto started, but stopped himself as he looked down at the ground. "It doesn't matter." She didn't know him. While a different, younger, version of himself existed, he did not. He was just as much as a stranger in this world as he had been in the last. 

Kushina frowned. "I think it does." She answered, causing Naruto's eyes to widen by a fraction. "Everybody has a name that matters. Mine is Kushina Uzumaki, what's yours?" She spoke calmly and in a caring tone. Naruto used his sleeve to wipe away his tears, a chuckle escaping his lips. 

"I've only met you once before, but for some reason, it's just a classic-mom thing to do to care for somebody you don't even know." He said, meeting her violet eyes. "My name is Naruto Uzumaki, and believe it or not, I'm your son." 

Kushina was at a loss for words. What could she say to that? That it was ridiculous? Impossible even? She tried forming those words, but they died almost instantly the moment she tried to get them out. Why did she have a gut feeling that he was telling the truth? 

"A lot has happened," Naruto continued, unable to meet her eyes anymore, suddenly embarrassed as he tried to explain. "I was, um, from a reality where you and dad died fighting the Nine Tails and dad sealed him inside of me. I grew up alone, but I made a couple of friends that I could call my own. I got stronger with help from Kakashi-sensei, Iruka-sensei, and Pervy Sage and I was really happy for awhile before. . ." He trailed off. 

He shook his head. "Then I died and-" He was cut off as he felt a pair of arms wrap around him. His eyes widened as he fought the instinct to push away and fight, which had kept him alive for awhile. Kushina put her hand behind Naruto's head and held him, her eyes closed as she rested her chin on his shoulder. 

"It's okay, you don't have to say anymore." She whispered lovingly. 

"Y-You don't even know me," Naruto stuttered as his arms stuck to his side. 

Kushina pulled back and gave him a warm smile. "I don't need to," She said, her hand stroking his whiskers softly. "You're my son, I know that much. Though, I'm not sure that I like how you've grown so fast, and taller than your mother at that!" She joked. 

"Kushina!" Minato shouted in a panic, leading a dozen Anbu to his backyard and he scooped his wife up and dashed away, the Anbu surrounding Naruto with their swords drawn. He set his wife down and looked over her with worried eyes. "Are you okay? Did he hurt you?" He turned around and glared at Naruto, his eyes a dark yellow with a horizontal toad-like pupil, indicating that he was in sage mode. "What did you do?" He growled, marching towards the blond. 

"Minato stop!" Kushina cried as she grabbed Minato by the shoulders in order to stop him. "It's Naruto!" 

Minato stopped and looked back at his wife. Kakashi had said something similar to him before they had found out where the man was located, which had made Minato blind to reason from either his son or his student, wanting to protect his wife. He closed his eyes and focused, using sage mode to sense the mysterious man's chakra. 

It was identical to his son's chakra, only bigger and a lot more dense. Minato's frown deepened. "So you're Naruto? But older?" 

"Yes," Naruto answered truthfully. "But I'm also from a different timeline." 

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