Camus' Bad Day

Camus had had many terrible days throughout his life, but at that moment he thought none of them had been as bad as the one he had just experienced.

From early morning, his whole day had been a complete nightmare. First, he missed his cell phone alarm, then he ran out of hot water and accidentally dropped his glass with orange juice. Later, he had to deal with a subway malfunction that forced him to walk all the way to the university, only to miss his first lecture and to be late for the second. Afterwards, the teacher of the third period assigned them with five problems due in two hours. Whoever handed in the assignment on time and with at least three correct answers would receive an additional five percent on their final grade. Unfortunately, due to his chaotic morning, Camus forgot both his book and his graphing calculator and only managed to answer two questions.

His last lecture was the static laboratory and he was not surprised to find out that he had printed an incomplete version of the previous week report (which, of course, was his turn to hand in that week). Instead of going back home, he decided to use his two free periods to complete the draft he had saved on his USB flash drive, which in the end proved to be useless, since the teacher had to deal with a personal emergency and could not attend the lecture.

Tired, frustrated and starving, Camus was on the verge of a nervous breakdown and, despite it being Friday at three o'clock, he decided to go straight home. Thankfully, the subway had been fixed and he was able to arrive to his stop in less than five minutes. Since he had nothing to eat at home, he decided to make a quick stop at the nearest convenience store. He craved for beef teriyaki noodles and, of course, a delicious cherry pie accompanied with a cup of hot chocolate.

It was still early, so the store was almost empty. However, his bad luck came back to him when he came across a classmate from university. His name was Milo and, even if they didn't study the same major, they shared two of their lectures, one of them being the static laboratory. Milo was not the worst of his classmates, but Camus hated to feel his heavy gaze during the entire length of the lectures. Did he think he had the right to stare at him just because he had a gorgeous pair of turquoise coloured eyes? Nonsense! The man was obsessed with him and whenever their eyes met Milo flashed him with a seductive smile or a cheerful wave of hands. Moreover, their meetings were not limited to the lectures, but also to the hallways, library and cafeteria. Sometimes he felt that the man was harassing him and more than once Camus trailed after him just to make sure he went into the subway before he did. The last thing he needed was Milo discovering where he lived!

Now that they were at the same store, Milo would know that he lived around the area. Surely, he must be one of his neighbours because, for what other reason would he visit that specific store? He didn't stalk him all the way from the university, did he? Camus examined Milo's basket. He already had several things in it and it was obvious he had arrived to the store at least ten minutes before him. He convinced himself that he only had to avoid Milo in order to get back home relatively undefeated.

Determined to do his shopping, he picked a basket and went to the instant soups aisle. From afar, he realized that there were only two cups of his favourite flavour left and, although he quickened his pace, someone else got ahead of him. Of course, that someone was none other than Milo. Camus waited for the man to retreat before adventuring to the shelves and ended up choosing the teriyaki chicken flavour. If he added enough soy sauce, he might not hate it as much.

Camus sighed and decided to go to the milk and chocolate powder aisle. Once he got there, Milo was already moving away from the shelf of his favourite brand. As he walked away, he read the box instructions for preparing a cup of bittersweet chocolate and, as expected, he had picked the last piece of the only flavour Camus enjoyed. He had to content himself with a box of Swiss chocolate and, just to make sure, some cocoa powder to compensate for its sweetness.

Camus peeked into the adjoining aisle where Milo seemed torn between several brands of disposable handkerchiefs and determined to take advantage of his distraction, he hurried towards the small pastry section at the back of the store. He searched everywhere for the cherry pies, but there were none left. Discouraged, Camus decided to settle for an apple pie.

When it finally seemed he could escape without being noticed by Milo, said man appeared behind him just as Camus placed the apple pie in his basket.

"Camus!" He said. "What a coincidence to find you here!" Camus murmured something intelligible, but Milo did not seem bothered by the odd reaction. "Do you also like the pies from this store? I'm addicted to the apple one."

What Milo didn't know yet was that Camus had taken the last apple pie. Great! He finally did something right! A simple dessert would not make up for the noodles and chocolate, but it was a good start. Camus had to lower his face to avoid drawing attention towards his triumphant smile.

"Well..." Milo murmured. "It seems there are no apple pies left." He had just finished his sentence when an employee appeared behind them and excused himself towards the shelves, where he piled up three freshly baked cherry pies. "Oh! I guess I'll take a cherry pie, then. I also like those."

Had Camus not been so irritated, he would have been a better person and offered Milo to switch desserts. However, he was so eager to steal the apple pie that he chose to remain silent. They walked together to the checkout line (why were they walking together, anyway?), where Milo asked him to go first. The cashier scanned his few items and indicated a total of nine euro. Camus took his wallet out of his backpack and started looking for his debit card. The seconds passed and he searched again. He gave it a third try and, finally, he remembered that he used his card to make an online payment the previous day and he forgot to put it back in place. Camus didn't use to carry cash with him and having no alternative he sighed bitterly, apologized to the cashier and asked her to cancel his purchase.

"Wait a minute." Milo interrupted. "I can pay." Camus twisted his mouth in contempt. He would rather not owe any favour to the chocolate thief!

"I assure you, it isn't necessary. Cancel the transaction, please."

"I don't mind." Milo assured. "You can pay me any other day."

Camus frowned and firmly placed his hand over the cash register.

"Cancel it." He repeated himself once more, making sure to convey that he wouldn't take no for an answer.

The cashier complied and in less than a minute Camus was ready to go home to put an end to his terrible day. Just out of curiosity, he looked back for a few seconds and saw Milo's aching face. Sudden guilt shadowed his already darkened mood as he became aware that Milo had always been courteous and that he never tried to overstep his boundaries. It was not his fault that Camus was so cautious (and paranoid). He decided to do his good deed of the day by showing him the discarded apple pie. "You can keep it."

In just a few seconds, Milo's melancholy disappeared from his face. He smiled broadly and his eyes, beautifully illuminated by the fluorescent lights of the store, seemed even brighter than before.

"Are you sure? Do you also like apple pie?" Camus looked away, but nodded. "If you want to we could go back to my dorm and I could give you a slice. I don't have much at home, but I can at least offer you apple pie and cup of hot chocolate. Oh! And teriyaki noodles!" Despite it being against everything he believed in, Milo's enthusiasm won Camus over and he agreed. This drew a captivating smile on Milo's face that made him regret not having his sunglasses on.

Later, they walked together to Milo's dorm. The instant noodles, hot chocolate and pie whose flavour he really didn't like combined into a fairly mediocre dinner, but the company was much more pleasant than he could ever imagine. He regretted labelling Milo a stalker when he simply was an open, sincere man who wanted to know more about his stern classmate.

In the end, Camus decided that that day was one of the best days of his life. Moreover, he was sure that if he was sharp, insistent and less prejudiced, it would turn out to be the beginning for more to come.

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Author's Notes: I want to dedicate this story to Tesco's supermarkets because they sold their apple pie for only one pound and basically it was the only gastronomical happiness I experienced during my masters. It sucks to be a student, but at least Camus gave Milo a chance and I'm sure everything will improve for both of them.

This fic was long due. It corresponds to the MiloShipFest 2018 commemorative fic for the winner couple: MiloxCamus. I'm terribly sorry for the delay, but I hope you enjoyed it. I also hope that you can participate in this year's Fest. The rules and prompts were published earlier today and you can read them at: miloshipfest /dot/ tumblr /dot/ com. Every single fanwork counts!

I still have to update a fanart along with this story, but life happened so I still owe you that.

Fic beta'd by Gochy, whom I'm sure also loves apple pie.