Summary: The first time Minato met Youkou, it wasn't exactly planned.
Namikaze Minato was severely regretting his earlier agreement with Jiraiya to act as his POC. He had agreed because Jiraiya had been assigned a mission from the Sandaime Hokage and thus couldn't make it for this apparently very important meeting with a neutral spymaster. But how was he to know that this so-called spymaster was also the owner of a very well known and high-class resort geisha house? No wonder his former sensei had looked simultaneously regretful and gleeful when he dumped the mission on him.
Damn it, Jiraiya. You so owe me for this.
Located amid a vast orange orchard near hot springs, the geisha house was aptly named Tangerine Bloom for the building was festooned with bright flowers and delicately perfumed with orange blossoms. If Minato hadn't known better, he would have thought that the place was nothing more than a very luxuriously appointed holiday resort for the rich nobility…who sought to have a night with the famous and mysterious Tayu of Tangerine Bloom.
The Tayu was supposedly a great beauty but very fickle. They rarely took clients who were usually passed on to the other geisha in the building. At the end of the day (or night rather), the clients were happily soused and well entertained, willingly dropping several ryo into Tangerine Bloom's coffers. The owner himself rarely made an appearance.
Jiraiya had already made it quite clear that Minato was to go undisguised or risk being blocked by Tangerine Bloom's formidable fuinjutsu wards that prevented unwanted guests. Jiraiya had already booked Minato in Tangerine Bloom's guest list so he was already covered (and couldn't refuse because apparently to book a night at Tangerine Bloom was insanely expensive and it made his inner poor orphan cringe at the idea of wasting Jiraiya's money).
So. Right. He was now standing outside Tangerine Bloom's front gate and wondered how to approach the situation. He was quite familiar with brothels thanks to Jiraiya's inappropriate ideas of training grounds when he was a genin but Minato had never been in such a refined geisha house like this.
"Hey, hey, what are you doing out there? Are you a new guest?" A male voice greeted him from the open door. Minato looked up and saw a brown-haired man dressed plainly in a grey yukata. Not knowing what to say, Minato could only nod as he walked towards the stranger.
The stranger gestured to the shoe-racks against the wall once Minato finally stepped inside the building, "Take off your shoes and put them there. Wear these." He handed him a pair of wooden geta sandals and Minato obeyed – better not to risk offending any staff of the geisha house and ruin his chances of meeting the spymaster.
"What's your name, sir? You can call me Yoichi." Yoichi sat at the reception counter and briskly flipped through the registration book. Minato hesitated minutely, too used to giving false identities on missions before he truthfully replied, "I'm Namikaze Minato. I understand that Jiraiya should have put me down in the waiting list with the Tayu of this household."
Yoichi nodded and ticked his name off in the registration book before putting it aside, "Yes, yes, very good…your name has been registered, Namikaze-san. Welcome to Tangerine Bloom."
Yoichi bustled around for a few moments, tidying up the counter. Grabbing a key from the key cabinet, he beckoned Minato to follow him to his new accommodation for the night. After going up two stairs and wandering past several doors, Yoichi unlocked the door for Minato and gave him the run-down.
"You've been given the best room of the building, Namikaze-san. It's got quite a good view of the surrounding orchards and it's also the biggest room we've got with its own bathroom. If you want to relax in the hot springs, feel free to do so. If you've got laundry, just place it in the laundry basket and the cleaners will take care of it. If you're hungry or thirsty, you can take whatever you like from the mini-bar or just call up room service."
"Got it." Minato relaxed slightly, secretly relieved that the geisha house was more like a resort, when Yoichi cheerfully continued, "Oh yeah, yeah, if you're looking to have a good time with our ladies, you'll have to join the rest of the guests in the main dining hall and try your luck. If you're really lucky, you just might be able to meet Tayu-sama and have a mind-blowing night."
Minato turned and objected, "No I-"
The door slammed shut before Minato could even finish his sentence. Minato sighed and wished for the umpteenth time that he hadn't agreed to help Jiraiya out.
Minato was sorely tempted to stay locked inside his room, not looking forward to spending the night with flirty geisha and drunken civilians. But alas, duty called. The meeting with the owner was important, especially when the information they had to offer could decide Konoha's fate. Thank goodness that he had already taken a soak in the hot springs earlier to relax his sore muscles and soothe his nerves or he barely would have been able to make it through the night without a pounding headache.
Dressed in a formal yukata, Minato felt distinctly naked without his weapons. He ignored it as best as he could. Yoichi saw him coming down the stairs and waved him over, "Ah, hey, hey, Namikaze-san! Tayu-sama would like to see you now. Come quickly! You mustn't keep Tayu-sama waiting!"
Minato blinked, wondering why such a famous courtesan wanted to meet him. He frowned and asked, "Why does the Tayu want to see me?" Yoichi shrugged, "Who knows, man? Whatever the Tayu says, it's law round these parts since he's the boss yo."
…The Tayu was the owner? Now it made sense.
Satisfied, Minato nodded and followed Yoichi to the Tayu's chambers. Soon enough, he was led to a room that was surprisingly spartan. Aside from a luxurious bed, the furniture and decorations in the spacious room were minimalist and bespoke functional design and comfort. He could not see the Tayu anywhere inside the room before he spotted a small side-door. The Tayu must be inside there.
Wait a minute. That was a fuinjutsu seal on the wall, a very strong privacy seal from the looks of it. Minato also hadn't seen that particular style of fuinjutsu before and he went over to examine it closely, his inner fuinjutsu nerd emerging.
"Hah, it's the first time I've had a guest look so interested in that mark! Not even Jiraiya was that enthusiastic."
A voice commented in amusement, startling Minato. He hadn't even heard or detected anyone appear in the room. Instantly spinning around to face the newcomer with the beginnings of a rasengan appearing in his palm, Minato stopped short when he saw the person and the rasengan faded into wisps. The Tayu smiled at him.
The Tayu wasn't a woman like he had been expecting (wait, didn't Yoichi mention something like that earlier?). Instead, the Tayu was a redheaded man in a russet yukata that left him scandalously exposed with his upper torso bare. The Tayu's violet eyes were lined with red eyeliner and he had painted his lips red. The Tayu gestured for him to sit on the chaise lounge as he perched himself on a chair beside him.
"I've been expecting you, Namikaze Minato. I am the Tayu and owner of Tangerine Bloom, Youkou. It's a pleasure to finally meet you after hearing so much about you from Jiraiya." The Tayu finally said with a smile.
Youkou means crimson but it also sounds like another japanese word youko, which refers to a humanoid fox-demon with fox ears and tail.
In this AU, Naruto is also back in the past ala "Meet Uzumaki Naruto, Kushina's fake-twin-brother-who's-to-be-the-next-jinchuuriki", but ends up in a later time period where Minato has already become a jounin but hasn't gotten a genin team yet. On a whim, Naruto decides to set up an inn which somehow turns into a geisha tea-house along the way, thanks to the geisha he kept rescuing during his travels. Thanks to his travels and networking within the geisha world, Naruto builds a formidable spy network that could rival Jiraiya's spy network. With his delicate features and rare appearances, Naruto also gains a reputation as the beautiful Tayu "Youkou" (even though he's MALE) and he gleefully abuses it to get juicy gossip from his clients. Through genjutsu and fuinjutsu, he tricks his clients into thinking that they had sex when they actually never did. As a backup for the very very rare scenario that both measures fail to work on his client, Naruto constantly vets the people that come to his geisha teahouse to make sure that there are no unwanted guests.
Jiraiya of course gets wind of the mysterious Tayu and decides to try his luck. He is incredibly disappointed to discover that "Youkou" is actually a man (though he does make for a very convincing woman if he bothered to wear women's clothes and makeup). They decide to trade information and one day, Jiraiya decides to give the overworked Minato a short vacation at the geisha teahouse while also playing a prank on him at the same time. Naruto secretly freaks out a lot when Minato shows up at his place for the first time, not actually expecting to see him at all in this reality when he had decided not to get involved in Konoha's affairs in the first place so as not to mess up the timeline too much. But against Naruto's plans, he can't help but enjoy Minato's company and getting to know more about him.
Once Minato got over his annoyance at being duped by Jiraiya and his surprise that Youkou is actually a man, he is also surprised to find himself enjoying the other man's company. He actually relaxes for the first time in ages at the geisha teahouse and doesn't mind going back again as Jiraiya's permanent replacement. He doesn't have many friends in Konoha who could give him sound advice like Youkou can and make him laugh. The rest of this AU focuses on Naruto/Youkou's impact on the world as a Tayu/spymaster (and his relationship with Namikaze Minato because I'm biased like that).