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The Noodles are Great, But You're Better

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"No, no no, please! I promise I'll be better, just please let me back in!"

"Sorry, Tang, but you've violated dorm policy one too many times. I can't let you stay."

Slam.

Tang stood there for a moment, trying not to cry. Really, he knew that he was at fault here. He'd bent the rules as far as his RA had allowed, and then bent them even further, until they broke. She was a great person, he knew she wasn't being mean, but... he was still mad.

And after his parents had seen his Pride Month posts, they'd told him not to come crawling back to them.

He was trying not to cry, right? Well, he failed at that. Tears tracked down his soft cheeks, soaking into his shirt.

Well. Nothing much to do about it now. Tang picked up his suitcase and slung his backpack over his shoulder and started walking. Where he would go, he wasn't sure, but he had to go somewhere. He opened up his phone onto a social media feed and scrolled for a moment. An advertisement caught his eye.

PIGSY'S NOODLES
Home of the world's longest noodle!

Come down to 76 Guanyin Avenue to try the ancestral recipe of Pigsy's Noodles!

The ad was complete with a cartoonish image of a smiling pig. Tang smiled at the simplicity of it all. None of those flowery phrases were used, and the inside of the restaurant in the second image looked traditional and homey. He decided it would be worth checking out.

By the time he made it to Guanyin Avenue, the tears had somewhat dried, leaving his eyes red and puffy. He opened up the curtain into the shop, which had a few people inside. All were slurping noodles from ceramic bowls, looking content. The smell was wonderful - savory, slightly smoky, and comfortable all the way through. 

"Welcome to Pigsy's Noodles! What can I get ready for ya?"

The gravelly shout came from behind the front counter. When Tang looked over, he saw a short, stout pig demon in a button-down shirt and black pants. He had a round face, with a slightly tired grin.

"Hi," said Tang, immediately cringing at how hoarse his voice sounded. He looked over the menu for a moment. "Can I get... um, the zha jiang mian?"

"Ah, great choice! I'll have that ready in just a moment." The pig demon - presumably Pigsy - stepped back into the kitchen, chopping vegetables and ladling broth and noodles into a bowl. Tang watched him work with fascination - he'd always loved noodles, but he wasn't very good at cooking, so he usually just stuck to cheap instant ramen.

"One bowl of zha jiang mian! That's 33 yuan," Pigsy said. Tang smiled at him before opening his wallet and handing over the money. The noodles smelled delicious, and they were affordable too? Great!

Tang pulled the noodles into his mouth with his chopsticks, and... wow. They were marvelous. Exactly the right texture, flavored nicely from the broth, just positively lovely.

"Hey, just wanted to ask... are you okay?"

Tang looked up from the warm bowl to see the pig demon staring at him, a concerned look in his eyes. "I'm not gonna pry, but ya don't look so hot, y'know?"

Tang sighed. "Yeah, I just got kicked out of my dorm." He choked up again during the statement, and began willing his eyes to stop watering.

"Oh," said Pigsy, his eyes widening. "I'm so sorry. But I night have a way to help? There's an empty apartment next to mine in my unit. You seem pretty nice, I don't think people would mind you moving in."

Tang smiled in gratitude. "T-Thanks. My name's Tang, by the way," he said.

The other man smiled back. "Nice to meet you, Tang. I'm Pigsy, although you may have guessed that already."

Tang laughed a little, feeling bubbly and warm inside. Whether that was from the warm meal in front of him or the sheer joy of having a place to stay, he wasn't sure.

---

Twenty-one years later, leaning on the shoulder of his beautiful partner, he knows why he felt so warm that day. And despite all the chaos that has happened since then, he wouldn't trade any of it for the world.