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Disclaimer: I don't own Xmen: Evolution.


Crap, crap, crap, crap…. Todd's mind was racing. Tabby had seen the book, and now the others were staring at it too! He at least wanted a chance to try alchemy before he was made fun of. But it looked like that wasn't gonna happen; four pairs of eyes were locked on him waiting for an answer. Maybe he should just come clean… No! There was no way Lance would let him try alchemy, he barely trusted Todd with making water balloons! He had to come up with a story quick. Think Toad! Think!

"Uh, you mean this book?" he weakly pointed at it.

"No Toad," Pietro drawled. "She meant the invisible one on your head. Yes that book!"

"It's, um…" Oh no, Lance was getting that look…

"Toad, what is that book?"

"I don't know!" Todd blurted out, almost instantly realizing how stupid that sounded.

Lance narrowed his eyes. "You don't know?"

"No it's…in German." Gah! That was so stupid! Stupid, stu- Wait a second that could work!

"Why would you have a book in German?" Pietro asked.

"I stole it out of Blue-boy's locker yo. Thought I'd see if he'd pay money to get it back." Please believe it, please believe it…

Pietro's eyes widened a little. "Toad that's… Brilliant! Well, brilliant for you anyway."

"Wha?" They really believed that? "I mean, you think so?"

"Absolutely!" Pietro ran over to stand next to Todd. "I knew you could be sneaky but this is just devious!" He placed an arm around Todd's shoulders and pretended to wipe away a tear. "I'm so proud!"

"Holding a book for ransom…" Lance shook his head, chuckling. "I think I've heard it all now."

"You better find a good hiding spot Toady," Tabby said as she went back into the living room. "Once Blue figures out his book was stolen you're gonna be his prime suspect."

"Then he'll know what address to send the money too!" Pietro called after her. He turned back to Todd. "So have you thought about how much you're going to demand for it?"

Todd was about to reply but the speed demon cut him off. "Remember not to ask for too much or too little. If you only get ten bucks out of it it's barley worth it. But if you demand too much then Fuzz-butt's probably just gonna ask Baldy to get him a new one."

"You sound like someone who's done this before," Lance smirked.

"And what if I have?" Pietro scowled when Lance's smirk grew. "Hey! You'd be amazed how much people will pay to get their stuff back! If they're too dumb to go to a thrift store, why shouldn't I make a few bucks from it?"

Freddy watched with a little amusement as the two boys carried on. None of them noticed Todd sneaking the rest of the way up the stairs.

XxXxX

Todd let out a sigh of relief as he closed his bedroom door. That had been way too close. He was going to put the book on one of the shelves, but then wondered if he should hide it. He thought about it for a moment, then shrugged and placed the book on the shelf. The others hardly ever came into his room anyway. Besides, he thought as he stretched, he was too tired right then to even think of a decent hiding place.

Tossing his clothes on the floor, he jumped into bed and buried himself under the blankets. He relished the warmth. As sleep began to take him, he cast one last glance at the book, barely registering that the words on the cover were emitting a faint glow.

XxXxX

The fallowing morning Todd woke feeling completely energized. It was like someone had changed his batteries or something. And he liked the feeling. He couldn't have felt better if someone told him Kelly was fired! He paused at that thought. Ok, maybe that could make him feel even better. But he still felt pretty darn good!

He looked over at the clock, it said 7: 15. He started to get dressed, then did a double take. 7: 15? It was Saturday morning! Why did he wake up now? He always slept in Saturday! For a brief moment he was tempted to just go back to bed. But he felt so… Not tired that it would've felt too weird. He knew without doubt the others were still asleep. So that meant he could do pretty much whatever he wanted without worrying about the others barging in. But what could do? He wasn't hungry enough for breakfast yet… Slowly, his eyes traveled to book on his shelf, and he grinned.

Snatching the book off the shelf he opened it and immediately started reading. He was confused at the strange writing, then realized he was holding the book upside down. Slightly embarrassed even though he was alone, he turned the book the right way around. He began to read the first chapter: The basics of Transmutation.

The common belief about transmutation is that it is simply turning one substance into another. That is true but that is not all transmutation is. It is also a purification. Taking a substance and causing it become its highest most refined form. There are also healing applications. But those will be discussed in later chapters. For the beginner alchemist it is always best to start with simple transmutations that don't require high levels of energy. We will start be taking a stone and turning it into a gem. All you will need is the stone, the correct symbols, and some metal to create the spark necessary to get the needed energy flow. Some metals work better for alchemy than others, but any metal will do for this task. The symbols for stone and gem can be found in the glossary in the back of the book.

Todd flipped to the back, and quickly found the symbols he needed. He noted that some of the symbols looked familiar, while others looked like they came from another world. He went back to the first chapter and continued reading the instructions. They said to draw the symbols where the transmutation would be done. For lack of a better spot, he chose the middle of the floor. The book also said that there were preferred inks to use, but that any ink would do. So he grabbed a sharpie out of his backpack. The book explained that the symbols were to aid in the alchemists' concentration, and create a focal point for the energy.

After making sure he drew them correctly, Todd then headed for the obvious place to find stones: The back yard. Thanks to Lance's occasional lapses of control the back yard was loaded with all kinds. Instead of going through the house and risking waking the others up, he simply hopped to a nearby tree branch from his window. Once he was on the ground he began searching for just the right stone. He didn't want some dinky pebble, or a huge boulder. He'd never get that up to his room. He looked around for what he figured was about ten minutes. He was about to just give up and use one of the pebbles, but then he found it. Not too big, not too small, not too jagged and not too smooth. It was perfect. He grinned and snatched it up.

He quickly scaled the tree and hopped back through the window. He placed the stone on top of the symbols. Ok, all that was left now was the metal. Was there any he could use? Lance's tools were metal. They were also in his bedroom. It was way too early for a suicide mission. Tabby had a lot of metal jewelry, but there was that whole too early for suicide thing. He wondered if silverware would do…Wait, weren't the studs on his wristbands metal?

He walked over and picked them up off his nightstand and examined them. Yeah, they were definitely some kind of metal. What kind, he had no idea. Well the book said it wouldn't mater, so he wouldn't worry about it.

Going back to the stone, he picked up the book to see what to do next. It said to just hit the symbols with the metal, and to visualize all the energy going into the stone.

He was careful how he held the wristband, so he wouldn't hit it wrong. He was bringing it down, when he stopped. Why was he doing this? Magic and voodoo and whatever were all Wanda's things. Not his. Yet there he was trying to turn a rock into a gem. But then, maybe alchemy wasn't magic. It didn't feel like magic anyway. At least not the magic Wanda did. He hated it when she tried to cast spells. He always got a bad feeling, and the house always felt wrong after one of her rituals. But what he was doing now didn't feel wrong, he realized. It felt good, natural, even safe. With that thought in mind, he raised the wristband again, and brought it down right on the symbols. He certainly didn't expect what happened next. The symbols began to glow a pure white light, and the stone was quickly swallowed up by it. It stayed that way for about ten seconds. When the light died down, he couldn't believe what he saw.

The stone was gone, and in its place was what looked like a beautiful ruby. Hand shaking slightly, he reached over and picked it up. He turned it over examining all its sides, trying to see if it was real. And was amazed when he found that it was real. Really real. Pure euphoria ran through his body. He did it! It worked! He turned a rock into a ruby! He felt like hopping around and screaming it to the heavens! He, Todd Tolansky, could do alchemy!

"He always fails!" Pietro's voice rang through his mind.

Todd paused, and looked down at the ruby still in his palm. 'Not anymore Pietro' he smiled.

'Not anymore.'