Wherefore art thou?
Set immediately after End of Days

It was as if a light had been switched off in the Hub. One day there was merriment and bickering ribaldry, the next nothing, a gaping void in the machinery of their activities. Without Jack to guide them they were lost to their own thoughts. Ianto had thrown himself into the archives and refused to come out. Toshiko was wedded to her beloved computer, running endless loops of analysis and prediction. Owen had taken to taunting the pterodactyl with the remains of last night's Happy Meal. And Gwen, well she was torn between going home to Rhys and an inquisition or staying at work on the slim chance things would get back to normal. Five days after their Captain had disappeared and they were still all in shock. Even the weevils with some sixth sense of theirs had noticed the change and were silent.

"I could swear that thing's putting on weight." She nodded towards the pointed beak with its rows of serrated teeth. "Are you sure you ought to be feeding it junk?"

Owen ignored the question. "Where's our teaboy?" He kicked the polystyrene tray out of reach. Ianto could clean it up later.

"Crying his eyes out over the filing cabinet and clicking that damn stopwatch. Honestly I'd confiscated it if I wasn't sure it'd make him worse." She sat down beside him but thought better of putting an arm around his shoulders. Poor Ianto. To have his beloved hero die on him, apparently resurrect from the dead, then vanish altogether had been too much for him to take.

"At least he hasn't taken to leaving Morse messages on the toilet seat" said Tosh looking pointedly in Owen's direction. He sniggered crudely without any discernable embarrassment. Repulsed she returned her gaze back to the console.  "At least some of us are trying to be practical. I've been doing an in-depth search on our Mr Bilis Manger."

"And?" asked Gwen with a sinking feeling she already knew the answer.

Tosh looked deflated. "Nothing yet. There isn't a trace of anyone of that name prior to 1941. Except…" She ran a hand through her hair, hesitating. "Except its such an unusual name it has to have some significance. Otherwise he could just have called himself John Smith."

"Of course it's significant," spat a voice from the doorway. Ianto appear clutching a newspaper cutting and looking slightly dishevelled. "Here." He waved it in their direction. It was a photograph of Bilis at the Ritz dated 1941 between Jack and Toshiko. The caption read "Manager Mr Bilis Manger of the Ritz entertaining the troops." From the smug look on Manger's face it was clear the photographer was under orders to take that particular picture.

"We've all seen that a hundred times." Owen said in a bored tone. "What's new about it?" Beside him Gwen suddenly stood up. She knew now what had been bothering her. So slow…

"Without that picture we'd never have suspected Bilis." Without the unusual name they'd never have linked the current caretaker with the wartime manager.

"At last! A modicum of wisdom" came a cultured voice from behind. Bilis Manger, cravat impeccably in place, looking to all the world like a retired headmaster had returned to the Hub.

Ianto and Owen both made a move on him from opposite directions. Manger merely disappeared from where he was standing and reappeared a short distance away. It was clear he was untouchable in his present form. Tosh's hands gripped the side of the keyboard tightly. "What have you done with the Captain?" shouted Ianto.

"I was hoping for a sign of intelligence." He raised a precisely plucked eyebrow at them. "Five days and still you don't have any idea." He looked sideways at Toshiko. "And Miss Sako was there in the thick of it. I believe you were supposed to be the analyst." Tosh looked down at the keyboard again as if for inspiration.

"Oh do I have to spell it out…" He clucked disapprovingly. "Well. What was the last thing you remember?"

"The rift—"

"Before that, my dear. Before that."

"Jack dancing with the other Jack?"

"Precisely." He looked back at Ianto. "And what do we know about that kind of thing in the 1940s?"

"It was against the law," Ianto muttered "Illegal."

"Quite right. The real Captain Harkness would have been immediately arrested and thrown in jail. He wouldn't have been free to die the next day in an aeroplane crash." Manger smiled again, condescendingly. "And if he didn't die – why, then your precious boss wouldn't have been able to assume his identity. A nice little time paradox don't you agree? Imagine – one brief dance and the whole of history unravels." He clasped his hands together.

Gwen shook her head. "But we know it didn't. Nothing changed. Things are still the same. Only Jack's gone."

"There was a wound in the temporal fabric. All that was needed was the right kind of doctor to fix it." Gwen's eyes widened. "And a paradox of that magnitude was always going to be a beacon for certain doctors."

"I came across the real Captain Jack Harkness by accident as he was trying to slip a local urchin three shillings for a quick fumble. Once I realised who he was it wasn't difficult to arrange a meeting. A parlour trick with a few photographs, some inter-temporal music and a bit of basic psychology. The rest, as they say, was history."

"I'm sorry Mr Jones. I haven't spirited away your leader. He went of his own accord. I was merely responsible for – shall we say – the taxi arriving?"

"Why?" asked Owen. "Why Abaddon, why Jack, why everything?"

Manger licked his lips. It was like watching a reptile in the zoo. Something supremely cold-blooded. "I have stood at the crossroads of history and looked in all directions. How can I die? I am outside of time. Only something of a similar nature could possibly end my existence and I am so tired. So very tired. There is no longer anything new under the sun."

"Your name…" Tosh interrupted, glancing up uncertainly. "It doesn't make sense. In Islamic eschatology there is a demon called Iblis. However. However that still leaves ‘Manger'. I've tried every language database on the planet, and a few more besides."

She was on a roll. "Nothing fitted. So I went back to first premises and assumed I was correct it was an anagram. I left it to the computer to suggest the most likely one." She turned the monitor to face them. On the display in large bold letters were two words.

"Millions of pounds and half a solar system of alien scrap and it took you five days to come up with that." said Ianto, staring. "You obviously don't play Scrabble."

"Christ, " said Owen looking at the screen. "Grim Lesbian! If the shoe fits…"

"Well I never," said Bilis Manger, his expression midway between outrage and distain as he disappeared. "Sticks and stones…"

For the first time in days the Hub heard laughter.