It’s Phichit’s fault.
It’s always Phichit’s fault.
“I can’t eat the rice in the dining halls, Yuuri,” Phichit wines, flopping down over Yuuri’s stomach.
“Oof! ” Yuuri turns away from his phone to glare at his lump of a best friend. “Phichit! You have your own bed for a reason!”
“But you’re so comfortable,” Phichit protests, rolling off Yuuri so that they’re now laying parallel to each other. “Plus, I need comfort. I’m wasting money on a meal plan for shitty rice!”
Yuuri is well-aware of how bad the rice in the dining halls are. It’s part of the reason he gets take-out so often.
“It’s disgusting! They don’t make rice correctly!”
Yuuri hums in agreement. He absentmindedly cards his fingers through Phichit’s hair, only half listening to Phichit’s rant. He only snaps back to the present when Phichit suddenly stops talking and turns to face him fully.
Phichit rambling on and on about some trivial topic? Yuuri can handle that, no problem. Phichit suddenly going silent? That’s when you know you’re in trouble.
“Whatever it is,” Yuuri says, “the answer is no.”
Phichit pouts. “I didn’t even say anything yet!”
“You don’t even need to open your mouth for me to know that you’re about to ask me to do something incredibly embarrassing and or highly illegal.”
Phichit sighs dramatically. He pouts some more. Yuuri caves.
“Fine, fine, what is it?”
“We should get a rice cooker! Just for us! So we can make rice properly.”
“Phichit, we’re not allowed to keep rice cookers in our dorm,” Yuuri says.
“Yeah, well, we’re not allowed to keep water boilers in our dorm either but look at you, making tea at three in the morning,” Phichit points out. “You only get away with it because Alex has a crush on you.”
Yuuri flushes. “He does not! He’s just a cool RA.”
(Alex definitely knows that Yuuri keeps a water boiler in his dorm. Yuuri is waiting for the day that he decides to call him out on it. It’s coming soon, Yuuri knows. Every time they speak, Alex has this smile on his face like he knows Yuuri’s up to something.
“He’s smiling at you because he likes you,” Phichit says.
“No, he’s smiling because he’s waiting to catch me in the act. We need to find a better hiding place for the boiler.”)
“Alex lets you keep a water boiler. He’d probably let us keep a rice cooker if you flirt with him a little.”
Yuuri decides to ignore that last part. He sits up, glancing down at Phichit. “Keeping a rice cooker is a bad idea. I’m in.”
“Before you say no again–– wait, what?” Phichit pushes himself up onto his elbows. “Did you just say you’re in?”
“I hate the rice here as much as you do,” Yuuri says. “Besides, aren’t we supposed to be living the wild, American college student life? We can break a few rules.”
Phichit beams at him. And then he tackles him back down onto the bed.
“You are the best bestfriend ever!” he yells. “No more shitty rice!”
Yuuri laughs. “No more shitty rice!”
They buy a monstrous 20-cup rice cooker. It’s pastel pink and Hello Kitty patterned.
“We don’t need a rice cooker this big,” Phichit says, hauling the thing into their cart anyway. “Where are we even going to hide this?”
“Go big or go home,” Yuuri says. He pushes the cart towards checkout before Phichit can also convince him to buy a kiddie pool and a portable washing machine while they’re here. “Let’s go. This place weirds me out.”
“Walmarts past nine PM are liminal spaces,” Phichit informs him, skipping along next to the shopping cart. “We might end up crossing over into an alternate universe.”
“I hope it’s an alternate universe where Viktor Nikiforov falls in love with me,” Yuuri mutters. He dodges someone pushing along a cart stacked with nothing but Eggo frozen waffles.
“I hope we fall into the Berenstein Bear’s universe,” Phichit says. “Berenstein with an e.”
“We’ve discussed this already! The Mandela effect––”
Phichit cuts him off with a laugh.
Alex catches them hauling the rice cooker up to their room.
All three of them freeze. Phichit, mid-step, Yuuri, with the rice cooker in his arms, and Alex, halfway out of his room. Yuuri thinks that maybe if he doesn’t move, Alex won’t notice the illegal rice cooker.
“Um,” Yuuri says.
“So,” Alex says. He looks conflicted. Finally, he sighs and steps back into his room. “I didn’t see anything. Please, don’t start a fire.”
Once his door clicks shut, Phichit and Yuuri race into their room.
“This is the best idea you’ve ever had,” Yuuri says, stuffing his face with mango sticky rice.
“I know,” Phichit moans. He shovels an entire mango slice into his mouth.
“We should have done this sooner,” Yuuri says, not thinking about how his nutritionist is going to kill him once she finds out how many helpings of sticky rice he’s had.
They branch out from just sticky rice. Their entire text history devolves into sending links back and forth of different rice cooker recipes. They spend their breaks in between skating sessions talking about what foods to make next. Phichit makes them mac and cheese for dinner sometimes. For breakfast, Yuuri usually makes oatmeal and hardboiled eggs. As an experiment, one lazy Sunday morning they make a giant pancake.
(“This is innovation,” Phichit says, staring at the six inch thick slab of pancake that their machine birthed.
“This is the American college kid experience,” Yuuri says. He slices off a piece and pops it into his mouth. “Delicious.”)
Yuuri wins bronze at Skate America, just barely edging out an older Canadian skater, and comes home to find that Phichit made him katsudon.
“I know it’s not the same––” he starts. Yuuri tackles him into a hug.
“P-Phichit,” Yuuri says, overcome with emotion. “It’s beautiful. It’s perfect. Thank you.”
“I broke into Ciao Ciao’s apartment,” Phichit says, as if Celestino didn’t give them both keys, “to use his kitchen for the cutlets and stuff, but I made the rice here. With our rice cooker.”
Phichit serves it to them in their Hello Kitty bowls, the ones they bought specifically to match the rice cooker. Yuuri cries when he takes the first bite.
“Phichit,” Yuuri says seriously, “I would kill a man for you.”
Phichit laughs. “How about instead of committing murder, you just cook for me next time?”
“Anything you want,” Yuuri says around a mouthful of pork and rice.
“Anything?” Phichit asks. “How about chicken massaman curry?”
Despite Yuuri’s promise to cook for Phichit, the curry ends up being a team effort. The ingredients are a bit of a splurge, but Yuuri figures this is a recipe they’ll make a few times, so it’s not like they’ll go to waste. Plus, coconut milk can be used in a lot of other dishes.
They end up with some extra curry so Phichit gives it to the biology majors in the dorm next to them. The next morning they find two pairs of fuzzy socks and their washed tupperware placed neatly next to their door. There’s a note in shaky handwriting that reads “Neither of us have eaten anything besides instant ramen in two weeks. Let us know if you ever need anything.”
“They gave us socks, that’s nice of them,” Yuuri says. He claims the powder blue socks for himself and hands Phichit the purple ones. “We should give them our leftovers next time, too. I’m a little worried, if all they eat is instant noodles."
So, the next time Phichit makes mac and cheese, he brings some over to their neighbors. In exchange, Phichit gets a pack of pretty highlighters and Yuuri gets some color-coded notes for the english lecture he missed last week.
And so it begins.
“Text the collective,” Yuuri announces, striding into their dorm rooms. “I feel like cooking.”
Phichit grins and whips out his phone.
In the past couple of weeks, word got out that Phichit Chulanont and Yuuri Katsuki make the best food, and they’ll share it with you free of charge. Their specialty is massaman curry.
(That doesn’t stop people from leaving them small gifts labeled ‘sacrifices for the Katsulanont Curry Pot’ and Yuuri is starting to become slightly concerned with the type of ‘sacrifices’ they get.)
It goes like this:
They’ll decide that today is a Katsulanont Day. Phichit will text the phone tree and within an hour, there will be a stack of empty tupperware waiting outside their door. They’ll distribute the food into the containers and then Phichit will text the collective again to let everyone know that the food is ready for pickup. In the morning, a pile of offerings will be waiting for them outside their door.
“I hope this time they leave something useful,” Phichit says, once the last person has collected their curry. “I’m getting tired of only getting granola bars in return.”
“Text everyone that we’re out of dishwashing soap,” Yuuri hums. He turns back towards the batch they’d set aside earlier.
Time to bribe the authorities.
Yuuri knocks on Alex’s door hesitantly. He clutches the tupperware like a lifeline.
Alex opens the door. He blinks. “Oh. Hi, Yuuri.”
Yuuri thrusts the container into Alex’s hands. “We, uh, made this for you. N-Not using an illegal dorm appliance, or anything, just, uh. We made it. Here you go.”
Alex smiles. “Of course, no illegal appliances whatsoever.”
“It’s vegetarian. We made a separate batch because you told me you were a vegetarian, so. Uh,” Yuuri says, feeling awkward. He wants to go back to his and Phichit’s dorm room and eat their portion of the curry. “It’s a thank-you. For not seeing any illegal appliances.”
“You made a separate vegetarian batch just for me?” Alex asks. “Wow. That’s–– wow. Thanks.”
Yuuri nods and absconds quickly.
Someone leaves three hamsters on their doorstep.
Yuuri wonders what the did to anger the universe like this.
“They’re so cute,” Phichit whines. “We can’t give them up! Look at them!”
Phichit delicately places a hamster on Yuuri’s shoulder. Yuuri struggles not to scream.
“Phichit, we can’t keep hamsters in our room,” Yuuri sighs. “We already have a rice cooker, a water boiler, and some candles. We’re literally just making our way down the rule book and breaking all of them.”
The hamster on Yuuri’s shoulder nuzzles against his cheek.
“See, Arthur already likes you!”
Yuuri stares at him. “You already named them?”
Arthur squeaks a little. Yuuri turns his head and comes face to face with the most adorable face he’s ever seen in his entire life. He sighs, resigned.
“You keep them on your side of the room and if we get caught, I’m blaming everything on you.”
Phichit squeals. He cradles his hamsters close to his chest.
“Yuuri! We’re co-parents!”
“They are your hamsters,” Yuuri reminds him. “I am not taking care of them.”
A week later, Yuuri buys a deluxe, padded hamster carrier. He herds them into the carrier, ignoring Phichit’s amused smirk.
“Let’s go, nasty children, it’s vet time,” he mutters.
He shuts the door on Phichit’s laughter.
They start trading food with other dorms.
(The dorms close to the library make the best tamales.)
They end up resurrecting the trade-and-barter system. One time Phichit manages to get them a whole tray of pasta from the kids down by the tree grove. In exchange they give them rice cooker banana bread and some of their famous curry.
A list of some things they have been offered to trade food for:
- a new umbrella
- a ladle shaped like a dinosaur
- a pack of 500 scantron sheets
- 12 batteries and a pair of shower slippers
- Someone’s hand in marriage (“Um, for me or Phichit?” “Either of you. Or both. Please, both.”)
- an easy bake oven
One day, Phichit gets off the phone with his sisters and starts crying.
“Phichit?” Yuuri asks, alarmed. He places a gentle hand on Phichit’s heaving shoulder. “What’s wrong?”
“I-I just miss them a lot,” Phichit sobs. “I’m sorry, I’ll stop crying in a minute.”
“Hey, no it’s okay, let it out,” Yuuri soothes. He wraps an arm around Phichit and lets him cry into his shoulder, not minding one bit that the collar of his shirt gets soaked. “You don’t need to apologize for anything, remember what you told me?”
“Say thank you, not sorry,” Phichit mumbles. He clutches the material of Yuuri’s shirt tightly. “I miss them so much, Yuuri. I miss home.”
Yuuri hugs Phichit tighter. Yuuri holds Phichit until his sobs subside into the occasional hiccup.
“It’s my baby sister’s birthday tomorrow,” Phichit says, pulling back a little. “I wanted to be there, to give her a present. It’s a camera, because she said she wanted to take pretty pictures just like her big brother. Instead, I have to ship it to her. It won’t even get there for another week.”
“I’m sure she’ll love it anyway,” Yuuri says. He brushes a tear off Phichit’s cheek.
“I just feel so far away from her,” Phichit sighs, his eyes glassy.
Yuuri waits for him to fall asleep before he texts Phichit’s mom.
An hour later, he has a recipe and a mission. He slips out of their room quietly and makes his way to the twenty-four hour grocery store.
In the morning, Yuuri makes Phichit his favorite, tom yum.
“I asked your mom for the recipe,” Yuuri says, rubbing the back of his neck self-consciously. “I hope it turned out okay. I’d buy you a plane ticket if I could.”
Phichit takes a bite and closes his eyes.
“Thank you,” he says eventually. “This is the closest I’ve felt to home in a long time.”
Yuuri bumps their shoulders together. “Hey, that’s what bestfriends are, right? A home away from home.”
“Home away from home,” Phichit says, smiling.
Phichit and Yuuri have a fantastic season. They both place well at World’s and Yuuri only barely misses making the Grand Prix Final. Next year, he promises himself, next year.
The successful season means more media coverage, which means better sponsors. Yuuri’s with Phichit when he gets the call from a big sports gear company.
“They’re gonna sign me! I’m gonna be rich!” Phichit exclaims. “Well, not rich, but I won’t need to calculate everything down to the last cent anymore!”
“That’s amazing, Phichit!” Yuuri smiles. “Milk them for all they’re worth.”
“Yuuri Katsuki,” Phichit says dramatically, dropping onto one knee in the middle of the quad, “will you do me the honor of moving in with me?”
“We’re already roommates, you nerd.”
“I mean, move in with me into an actual apartment. We can both afford one, now. Think about it, more wall space for your Viktor Nikiforov posters!”
Well. When you put it that way.
“It would be nice to stop hiding our appliances all the time,” Yuuri says slowly. “And I know you’ve had your eye on that deluxe hamster cage for a while.
Phichit grins and jumps to his feet. He pumps a fist in the air and yells “he said yes!”
Yuuri rolls his eyes and drags him to class.
Back in their room later, Yuuri realizes something with a jolt.
“Oh,” he says. He turns to where Phichit is lounging on his bed, scrolling through Instagram. “What’s going to happen to the Katsulanont Curry Pot when we’re gone?”
“Um,” Phichit puts down his phone. “That’s a good point. We’ll take it with us?”
Yuuri shakes his head. “It’s a dorm tradition at this point.”
“Okay, we’ll leave it with someone.”
Phichit, ever the opportunist suggests they open it up to the collective. He announces that they’re moving out and will be handing down the Katsulanont Curry Pot to a lucky pair of roommates. He includes links to both their Amazon wishlists and mentions that they also take Venmos.
“I feel bad,” Yuuri says, shifting through his pile of riches. “But I’m also mildly concerned?”
He holds up a pair of hot pink sweatpants with the word “spicy” printed across the butt. “This is my exact size. How do they know what size I am?”
“Are those from Tom and Eric, down the hall?” Phichit asks. “Well, given how much they stare at your ass, I’m not surprised they know what size you are.”
Yuuri flushes bright red. He stuffs the sweatpants into the bottom of his closet. “Yeah, well. What number marriage proposal are you on?”
“This is the fifth!” Phichit informs him cheerfully. “But I did get a couple people who offered to officiate our wedding.”
Yuuri wrinkles his nose. “You know, getting married isn’t a bad idea. It would help us out on our financial aid applications.”
“Don’t give me ideas, Katsuki. Or should I say, Katsuki-Chulanont?”
“Chulanont-Katsuki,” Yuuri says, testing it out. “Nah, we should stick with Katsulanont. Also, we can’t get married because Ciao Ciao would kill us. And we still haven’t decided who gets the pot.”
“I know!” Phichit exclaims. “A fight to the death!”
“Okay, I think Alex might put his foot down at literal slaughter.”
“If you just flirted with him, just a little bit––”
“No , Phichit, I’m not flirting with our RA so you can hold your own gladiator fight. What about a curry cooking competition? The winner gets the pot?”
Yuuri nods. The game is on.
“Welcome to the first annual Katsulanont Hunger Games!” Phichit crows.
They’re in the shared dorm kitchen, all twenty of their dorm mates plus Alex who is pointedly reading a book in the corner and definitely not aware or supervising the illegal cooking activities going on. Everyone is armed with a spatula and varying levels of bloodlust.
“The Hunger Games?” Yuuri raises an eyebrow.
“It’s a pun,” Phichit explains, “because, you know, food?”
Yuuri sighs heavily. He turns back to address the group.
“You’ll all have an hour to make the best curry you can with the ingredients provided. Whoever makes the best one, as judged by Phichit and I, wins the pot.”
“Sabotage is not only allowed, but highly encouraged,” Phichit chimes in. He hoists up his phone, an alarm set for exactly one hour displayed on screen. “Okay, on my count. Three, two, one, cook!”
The room erupts into chaos. There are snarls and hisses. Yuuri thinks he sees Alyssa assembling a summoning circle out of ketchup and carrots in the back corner. Phichit cackles gleefully.
An hour later, a victor emerges from the bloodbath. Wobbly and clutching a bent spatula, Kubo is crowned the official winner of the very first Katsulanont Curry Pot Hunger Games. They have a ‘passing of the torch’ ceremony. Phichit cries.
Celestino helps them go apartment hunting. He keeps vetoing options because of ridiculous reasons like “the water is poison” and “the last tenants died.” Honestly, Yuuri thinks this is just a ploy to get them to move in with him so he doesn’t need to hire a dog walker anymore.
(“It’s not a bad idea,” Yuuri tries to convince Phichit one day. “He’ll probably just add in rent to his coaching fee and we get to hang out with his dog all day.”
Phichit looks at him pointedly. “Yuuri, I would just like to remind you of the number of times you’ve come home from a party missing half your clothes. Do you really Ciao Ciao to find you trying to unlock the door with your pants on your head and a phonebook’s worth of numbers written on your bare chest? Because let me tell you, as someone who’s woken up to that site on multiple occasions, it’s not pretty.”)
The apartment they eventually settle on is not too far from the rink. It gets the official Ciao Ciao seal of approval, mostly because it’s so close to Celestino’s apartment and he says that this way, at least if they call him to pick them up from the next town over at three in the morning again, he won’t have to drive all the way back to campus to drop them off.
Move-in day is an ordeal.
“How do you have so much stuff?” Yuuri asks, astounded. He’s just hauled up eleven of twelve heavy cardboard boxes, all of them Phichit’s. “I don’t remember us having this much stuff in our dorm room.”
Celestino comes up with the last of the boxes and a brightly colored gift bag on top. Mack, his corgi, pads along loyally behind him, her tongue lolling out the side of her mouth. Yuuri collapses onto the floor, half out of exhaustion and half because he wanted to be close to Mack.
“Yuuri, get up,” Phichit whines. “You’re getting sweat all over our new floor.”
Yuuri ignores him and rolls over onto his back. Mack hops onto his chest and knocks the breath out of him. He doesn’t mind.
“C’mon, kid, get up,” Celestino huffs. “I bought you two something.”
At this, both Yuuri and Phichit perk up. As two broke college kids, there is nothing better than receiving free things.
Yuuri picks up Mack and goes over to the couch, depositing her onto Phichit’s lap. Celestino grabs the giftbag he was carrying earlier and joins them.
“So, I heard about all this… curry pot… nonsense.”
Yuuri and Phichit gulp.
“About how you paid off your RA and kept banned cooking appliances in your dorm room.”
“In our defense,” Phichit cuts in, “the dining hall food is horrible.”
Celestino gives him a look. “And I heard about how you two have been breaking your diets.”
Yuuri winces. “Coach––”
“Which is why I decided that you two deserved this.” Celestino pulls out a Hello Kitty soup pot from his giftbag. “It’s time you used real kitchen appliances, now that you’re not limited to the dorm rules.”
Yuuri stares. It’s the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen.
“Ciao Ciao,” Phichit says, overcome with emotion.
“I also had your nutritionist gather up some recipes,” Celestino continues. “And––”
Phichit interrupts him by tackling him into a hug. “Thank you, thank you, thank you! You’re the best skating dad ever! It even matches our bowls! Ciao Ciao, you shouldn’t have!”
Yuuri takes the pot from Celestino’s hands and lifts it up to the light to admire it. Phichit releases Celestino to crowd against Yuuri, making grabby hands for the pot. Celestino watches on in amusement.
“Ah, I remember when you two were too shy to talk to each other,” he says, his eyes mysteriously wet. “And now you’re moving in together and creating secret underground dorm food trading networks. I’m so proud.”
Phichit announces their move on Instagram with a photo of Yuuri carrying him over the threshold, bridal style. He captions it “We actually have a kitchen now LOL.” It gets has more likes than all of the pictures on Yuuri’s account combined.
The next time finals roll around Phichit and Yuuri discover that they’ve created a monster.
One of their old dorm mates, Ketty, invites them back for a potluck to celebrate the end of the semester. Phichit insists they go to make sure their rice cooker is being put to good use.
It’s become a deity. It’s transcended.
Enough RAs have been bribed that there’s no real risk of walking around with a giant tray of food. They hold the potluck on the patch of grass outside the dorms. Yuuri’s pretty sure they need a permit to be doing this but no one’s said anything, so he figures it’s fine.
A cheer erupts when Yuuri and Phichit are spotted. Someone insists they bless the rice cooker. Someone else asks Phichit to sign their spatula.
“I’m not sure Sharpie ink on a cooking utensil is safe,” Yuuri mutters.
“It’ll be fine,” Phichit says, waving a hand.
The guy turns to Yuuri, offering him another marker and smiling shyly. “W-Would you sign it too, Yuuri?”
Yuuri doodles a small dog next to his signature.
(After that they get invited back after every semester to re-bless the pot. The Katsulanont Curry Pot becomes an official Wayne State meme, which Phichit is extremely proud of. They even make it onto the Wikipedia page.)
All good things must come to an end.
(Well, it’s not really the end though, is it? There’s no way Phichit is letting go of Yuuri that easily and he knows that he’s number one on speed dial on Yuuri’s phone. They’ll be okay.
It’s only ten thousand kilometers between them, and when it comes to Yuuri and Phichit, that’s nothing.)
After the Grand Prix, Yuuri is quieter. More homesick. Phichit can see this, so it’s no surprise that after finishing up his degree, Yuuri decides to move back home.
“This is home, too,” Yuuri reassures him. “You’re home, too.”
Phichit nods. “But you miss them. I get it, it’s been five years.”
Yuuri smiles, but it’s an echo of his usual smile. He pulls Phichit into a tight hug. “I’m going to miss you so much.”
They make the most of their last few weeks together. Phichit convinces Yuuri to choreograph a pair skate to a cheesy 80s ballad as a going away present for Celestino. They almost drop each other multiple times, but it’s okay.
They always help each other back up.
They eat at all the food places they promised they’d try but never did. They drive up to Canada with Celestino and Mack one last time. They go skating at a public rink and cling to each other and pretend they don’t know how to skate, giggling like school children.
On Yuuri’s last night in Detroit, they cook curry together one last time.