"I'm sorry, Muse."
Melita lowered the cross as her heart melted at his sad eyes, his tone and his use of her beloved nickname. A lopsided smile gently replaced her annoyed look and a quick glance took in the mud on the tiles and Barbatos' old trainers. He seemed to be making an effort - and he could have appeared in Sarah's bedroom, she supposed. Still, Melita thought, she should call attention to his manners.
"Barbatos, what have I told you about doorbells?"
While he considered the question carefully, the unhappy creature gazed around the bathroom. His eyes rested on the scented soap at the white sink, the varied bottles used for unknown feminine purposes and lastly the happy looking rubber duck sitting near him. Reluctantly he met Melita's gaze again.
Melita grabbed his arm and pulled him towards Sarah's bedroom.
"Sarah honey, it's okay." She said softly. "You can come out now!"
There was a pause.
"Are you sure, Melita?"
"I swear everything's fine."
After a short wait, an old battered tennis racket was poked round the door. Sarah slowly followed. Worried eyes glared at the strange green apparition and then looked at Melita. The people she could see looked odd standing in darkness.
"This is Barbatos. He's a friend." Melita held out a hand to Sarah. "Really, it's fine."
Barbatos nodded in agreement and then felt that he should apologise.
"I'm sorry about the doorbell."
Melita couldn't help smiling. "You knew him when you were a little girl."
Sarah looked really confused now.
"What? You're joking, right?"
Tears welled up; Barbatos was heartbroken.
"You couldn't say my name properly."
Taking a slow step towards him, Sarah felt a glimmer of recognition. But she didn't know what to say about it. Several different sentences were started then stopped abruptly.
Barbatos tried again.
"You told the Gary-doctor about me once and shouted when he didn't believe you."
"I made you up."…Sarah shook her head. "I swear I made you up."
But there was something stirring in her mind.
"You used to call me…"
Full remembrance finally flooded forth.
"BABA!"… She cried. "Baba, the green man!"
Dropping the tennis racket Sarah ran recklessly towards her old friend. The massive being lifted her up and spun her about, causing Melita to step out of the way.
"I missed you little squirrel."
"Oh, I can't believe this." Holding onto his robe for balance Sarah smiled up into those liquid brown eyes. "My mum told me you weren't real. Just an imaginary friend."
Barbatos shook his head and Melita looked unhappy.
"You disappeared one day and I spend months looking for you." He reached up to touch her hair. "But then I realised that you were still there and I just couldn't see you. And it was Muse's fault."
"Because of the promise I made on the necklace?"
"Yes!" Melita inhaled sharply. It sounded like she was upset. "It was my fault."
Sarah looked up at Barbatos.
"It doesn't matter, it really doesn't… Not anymore. We all do what we can, we all make mistakes." She smiled quickly at Melita and looked back at the huge green man beside her. "Baba? Sorry, Barbatos? Do you have any kittens just now?"
Barbatos opened his cloak causing several dainty kittens to sit up and blink their eyes at the sudden light.
"I rescue them later."
Melita tried to explain.
"Angels, demons and the myth people live outside time. Or something like that, it's hard to understand."
Sarah nodded at Melita's explanation. There was a chorus of mewing from in front of her. She peered at the tattered cloth.
Another, sadder realisation dawned.
"Blast! I can't see them."