"Look at you," Professor River Song, Archaeologist had breathed, "You're young." He wasn't, not even then he wasn't. But to her he was, looking older but with younger eyes than those of her Doctor.
Very few people understood that, how he could look so young and be so old.
Jack understood it, but Jack was, well, Jack, and that was very complicated. He regretted not having been there for Jack during the 456 incident. Jack had needed him - the Earth had needed him - and he hadn't been there. He'd been on Mars at the time, even though that Mars was decades in the future from Jack's encounter with the 456, so timey-wimey, and... and the less he thought about that incident on Mars the better. He shuddered. Time Lord Victorious indeed, who did he think he was?
He'd thought he was better than them, that's what he'd thought. He was smarter than humans, and stronger, and he could see things they couldn't. But that didn't make him better... it just made the mistakes he made bigger. He'd heard a phrase on the telly once when he was on Earth, Disaster Magnet, and that described him pretty well, and he had been a bit taken aback to learn that it had described a character from an Earth comic book. Humans were so odd, even their mythological figures had horrible flaws. Perhaps that was why he liked them so much. They were (as a group) willing to forgive him anything, because they saw him as one of their own, but bigger. And Idris had said that she did it deliberately, brought him to where he was needed rather than where he wanted to go. So maybe they hadn't needed him during the 456 crisis.
The thought was simultaneously heartening and depressing, so he brought his mind back to the people - the people who understood.
Rory understood, sometimes, when he was the Last Centurion. And Rory - of all his former and current and probably future Companions - Rory was the least afraid to tell him when he was behaving... inhumanly. He was inhuman, there was no question, but he needed his human companions to tell him when he was being inhumane. Rory - and to some extent Donna, before he'd had to do the horrible thing he'd done to her - possessed the ability to tell him (as harshly as necessary) when he showed signs of turning into the Time Lord Victorious again. He loved Rory for that, and hated him, and he was sure the feeling was mutual. Amy had had too much faith in him to call him out, except the time when... well. He had gone all selfish on her then too. Rory had taken care of it, as he always had and always would, the Boy Who Waited waiting for the Girl Who Waited. They were so human, even when Rory had been the Last Centurion.
Not like him.
The man who still lived in the back of his head, the one he called Nine, he'd been almost distressingly human, for all he viewed humans as stupid apes. Nine'd had cause. But Nine... he'd been so hard to be, so angry and so... broken. If it hadn't been for Rose... if it hadn't been for Rose there might well have been another genocide, this time of the humans of planet Earth, because the rage and the guilt and the pain had been too much for Nine. Rose had been able to understand as well as any short-lived human could, and she'd been exactly what Nine had needed, she'd been soft and kind and innocent in many ways, but with a steel core that had led her to call Nine out on the most inhumane of his behaviour. Nine had loved Rose, in a very human way, and that love had kept him sane. At least... as sane as Nine ever was. By human standards all the Time Lords were nutters, but Nine had been insane even by Gallifreyan standards.
Maybe. Gallifrey had after all had very... broad standards of what constituted sanity. After all, the Master had been driven insane as a child by the elders of his own people in order to save themselves centuries later. And the vast majority of the Time Lords hadn't considered their brethren to be crazy. They were a selfish race, the Time Lords - he himself as much as any - and they viewed the extermination of entire peoples as simply expedient. Most of them didn't feel any shame or guilt. Perhaps that was another reason he loved and hated Rory and Donna and Rose and all the others who had been able to make him see his own selfishness. Maybe that was part of why humans were his favorite aliens; their emotional range was so complex for such a young and low-dimensional race. Not like his own people, who had only anger and fear and cruelty and selfishness. Oh, the Time Lords had the more... positive emotions... but they let themselves be constantly overridden by selfishness and lust for power.
And maybe that's what the humans did for him. They kept him from being too Time-Lordy for his own good.
Most of them were gentle about it... until pushed too far. One of the other men in the back of his mind, the most recent one, Ten, he had pushed some too far. Not so much Rose herself, who was now safely with a meta-crisis duplicate - a human clone - of Ten in another universe, not by then, but Martha, and Donna and... but no, he'd already decided not to think about Mars. Ten had also been considered attractive by human females (and Jack - but then Jack was... hmm... even less sexually discriminating than most 51st-century humans), as just about everyone tried to kiss Ten at one point or another. He felt bad about Martha; she'd been infatuated with Ten as many women - and Jack - had done, and it had been for the best that she had gone her own way. Reinette... Ten had honestly loved her, in an odd historical-figures-are-cool sort of way.
Even Donna - though the only kiss from Donna had been the life-saving kind rather than the romantic kind - even Donna had agreed with River in the Library that Ten was a Pretty Boy... and she'd said so rather quickly. He'd loved Donna, one of the few of his Companions who treated him as though... as though he were an errant younger sibling rather than a Time Lord centuries older than she. "Because sometimes you need someone to stop you," she'd said, and she'd been right. So right. But Ten had been forced to mind-wipe Donna or she would have died, burned up with the force of the Time Vortex inside her head. He still felt guilty for that, although he knew it was for the best. She had pleaded with Ten - begged - not to do this to her. When he closed his eyes he could see her face, imploring him please don't make me go back! He wished he could have helped her, taken the Vortex without the memories, but it was impossible. For a human. Her brain simply didn't work in that many dimensions. Not like River's...
River had died there in that Library. And Ten, bloody damn Ten, hadn't known her and she had sacrificed herself to spare him and over four thousand others. Looking back, he felt that it hadn't been simply noble self-sacrifice. He knew River now, as intimately as one being could know another, mind and body and soul, and sacrifice for strangers wasn't really her style, even then when she was older. But she... she loved him and he understood now the agony she had felt when she realised Ten had no idea who she was. It was the same pain that he himself felt now, knowing he must use his lovely River to kill himself and save Time. That torment had mingled sacrifice and suicide in River. And now he would have to cause her more pain. He would have to hurt her, his beloved River Song, and she wouldn't know him well enough to understand why.
And the young man with the ancient eyes decided it was time to end this farewell tour, and he sighed and climbed wearily into the blue box.