The TARDIS hummed angrily. She had been sitting alone with the two girls for nearly half an hour and she didn't know how much more she could take. They stood, faces inches apart, shouting at the top of their lungs. The TARDIS had done as much as she could to distract them, but the girls were so absorbed in their dispute that they were completely oblivious to their surroundings. The TARDIS almost wished that the Doctor would return to end the dispute, but a bigger part of her didn't want her Doctor to see this and be hurt by it.
Finally, the TARDIS decided to do something she had never done before.
The two girls shouting at each other were vaguely aware of another voice, but paid it no notice until it commandingly cried out, "Children!" They stopped and exchanged a non-hostile glance before looking around for the other voice.
The voice came from the TARDIS's holographic interface. The TARDIS had never used this feature before and was now using it to referee a silly debate between two silly girls. What was more, she was breaking the rules with the appearance she had chosen.
The girls stared at the hologram. It was a woman, maybe in her 40s, smartly dressed, with red hair and one of the loudest voices they had ever heard. Together, they asked, "Who are you?"
"Donna Noble," the TARDIS replied. "You don't know me, but I'm going to travel with the Doctor, soon."
"You are not!" screamed the blonde girl. "That's my Doctor. We're going to travel together forever."
"Rose Tyler, sit down, and shut up," the Donna hologram said.
"Why would anyone want to travel forever with you?" the dark haired girl asked mockingly. "You know, he never even mentioned you when we were together."
Rose opened her mouth to reply, but the Donna hologram intervened. "Martha Jones, sit. Quietly."
She moved around the console and loomed over each girl, glaring at them. "You each think you're God's gift to the universe," she said. "I'm here to tell you that you're not. What you are is lucky. Lucky to be among the select handful of people who have been allowed to experience the universe with the Doctor. He doesn't need you, any of you. He invites you to travel with him because he wants to share the universe."
Rose sat, pouting. "The Doctor does need me," she said. "I destroyed an entire army of Daleks just by thinking it."
Donna snorted. "Nearly costing you your own life and forcing the Doctor to save your life by sacrificing his."
Martha piped up. "I did impressive things, too."
Donna rolled her eyes. "You may have handled yourself well where the Judoon and the plasma-vore were concerned, but you spent the rest of the time moping over the fact that the Doctor wasn't interested in you."
Rose and Martha wanted to justify themselves further, but Donna would have none of it. "You both think the Doctor belongs to you somehow. Because he chose to share all this with you, you act like you own it, own him. You don't understand. The Doctor doesn't love either of you. He lost the one person he loved a long time ago. You, Rose, you, Martha, even Donna, are only here because the Doctor is generous and wants to share what he's seen with others. He cares about you, would indeed die to protect you, but to think that a man like him, with everything he's seen and everything he's experienced, would love you, is ridiculous. He's nearly 1,000 years old. How old are you? You're children with an infatuation. I'm sorry he ever met either of you. The Doctor is so optimistic, he believes the best of everyone until it's proven otherwise. He'll never see how petty and selfish you both are. But I know." Donna fell silent and leaned against the console. "Let me show you something," she said.
As Rose and Martha sat watching, the image of Donna dissolved. Before their eyes, a series of women, and a few men, appeared and disappeared. Neither had bothered to count, but they were both stunned, Rose a little more than Martha. She wasn't just stunned, though. She was angry, angry that she wasn't the first one he'd traveled with. Martha sat there thinking that the Doctor hadn't mentioned any of these people. She wondered if she would just disappear like that. Finally, the image of Donna returned. "You see, you're not the first, and you're definitely not going to be the last." Donna faded, leaving a grim silence behind.
Martha was content to remain silent, but Rose soon began muttering under her breath about how badly the Doctor had treated her.
When the Doctor finally re-entered the TARDIS, he was met by Rose. "I thought we had something special! I will not be the latest in a long line of bimbos you keep around for your own temporary amusement!" She stormed toward the doors. "Goodbye, Doctor," she yelled. She left the TARDIS, slamming the doors as hard as she could.
The Doctor stood completely still, utterly stunned. He'd never realized Rose was so unreasonable.
Martha slowly approached him. "Why have you never mentioned any of the people you've traveled with before?"
"You never asked," he replied, simply.
"Oh," she said. "I'm sorry, Doctor, but I have to go."
He just nodded and watched her leave as well. He looked around for a few moments, unaccustomed to the quiet. It was a relief to be alone for a bit though. He hadn't quite figured out how exactly Rose and Martha wound up in the TARDIS together, but he decided not to worry about. One of them might be a bit out of time, but, in the grand scheme of things, what was a year or two?
He approached the console. He lovingly stroked the familiar controls, saying, "Well, it looks like it's just you and me, old girl." The TARDIS glowed, humming happily. She was glad she'd gotten rid of two undeserving travelers. She knew that soon the Doctor would encounter Donna Noble. Donna would be good. She wouldn't think the universe existed for her. Yes, the TARDIS liked Donna Noble.
In the meantime, however, she fully intended to enjoy this time alone with her Doctor.