These days Ed's journals are actual proper travelogues, no coded shit or anything.

…okay, no, there's still some coded shit because alchemy is an inseparable part of travelling for him and that's just too damn dangerous to leave out in plain sight. Especially since he can't just transmute the covers shut anymore.

Besides, old habits are hard to break. Though at least he's trained himself (with Winry's enthusiastic "encouragement") out of accidentally writing shopping lists and stuff in code too, just because half his mind's still occupied with figuring out a transmutation or three dozen.

But anyway. Somehow he keeps finding that there's so much to write about these days whenever he arrives in a new place, or even when he visits those they've been in before.

(Fine, yes, probably that does say something about how much of a one-track mind he'd had, before – but getting his and Al's bodies back had been really fucking important, okay?

That was putting it mildly, even, and he'd always consider it a worthy exchange even if it did make him wonder sometimes if there were other things he'd missed back then.)

He doesn't mail out excitedly longwinded accounts of his journeys like Al does, complete with local recipes, pressed dried flowers, and photos or meticulously-labelled illustrations in place of them. Or that's what he hears from Winry, at least – when Al sends Ed letters it runs more along the lines of alchemical notes that are thoroughly annotated (and even more thoroughly coded), though sometimes dried flowers still find their way into the envelope because his brother is a ridiculous sensory-addicted dork and Ed loves him to pieces despite the constant risk of pollen allergy.

Luckily the flowers are usually flat enough to double as bookmarks for his journals, which is also a convenient way of marking the progress of his journey against Al's. So there's that.

Though letters between them don't happen very often, what with how very very frequently they change towns (or even countries) entirely.

He's pretty sure there's now an urban legend about that time Al's letter had to be redirected a whole fifteen times before it reached him, and he's definitely certain the postal system of Amestris and beyond actively hates them both by now.

(Which is seriously uncalled for, since Al always puts more than enough postage to account for the inevitable redirections? But by this point Ed will personally vouch that people everywhere can be unreasonable about the weirdest stuff. Turns out Amestris doesn't have a monopoly on that. Possibly not even the biggest market share.)

And of course it's almost always Al doing the sending. Contrary to what Mustang believes Ed is actually capable of semi-tidy handwriting when he needs to be – how the hell else would he draw transmutation circles and not have them blow up in his face?

But one time Ed had just gotten so immediately carried away that he'd written his reply on whatever he'd had on hand right then, which amounted to three crumpled-then-flattened-again receipts, a map from the last town, and the back of the envelope that Al had sent his letter in.

(Al's answering letter had come with five crisply-folded sheets of blank paper; Ed could practically hear the sigh coming from it.)

So now that they've acknowledged that letter-writing isn't Ed's strong point even when it's about alchemy, and since Al's all for being super-organised about everything – the resemblance the Hawkeye is really starting to get terrifying – and makes plans in advance far more than Ed does (which is to say not at all), Al now includes also-coded lists of telephone numbers in his letters, along with the dates when he expects to be contactable at each place.

This way Al can continue taking however long he likes to compose each letter (and he definitely adds to them over different days, Ed can tell by the writing) while Ed can call right back to discuss seven different theories at once, and woe betide anyone who tries to bug their phone calls without at least a university library's worth of theoretical alchemy to back it up.

It's a great arrangement, and Ed doesn't have to write any letters. His brother is a genius.

The resounding success of this arrangement also reminds Ed that there are more ways to say hi, still not dead! than just letters (because, once again: impossible), since so many people have insisted on expressing completely unnecessary worry over his decision to travel alone.

(Hawkeye had only expressed an offer to teach him self-defence via firearm, and when he turned that down she'd instead produced a wallet of alarmingly convincing fake documents under a half-dozen not-Edward-Elric names. "Just in case," she'd said, which still hadn't explained why there'd been a pass from Xing proclaiming him to be a diplomat and thus immune to Amestrisan law.

Hawkeye is the best, hands down.)

For Winry he scribbles down the compositions of metal alloys and composites by region alongside rough sketches of interesting-looking designs, and most of the time he even remembers to record all this through an engineering lens rather than an alchemical one. He collects the scraps of notes and mails them once he's gathered enough, which he usually does every few weeks, though he saves the actual material samples for when they meet in-person because they're just too damned troublesome to mail. (He doesn't really send anything separate for Granny Pinako, except for that one magazine clipping from Creta that had dedicated one full-page spread to Rockbell Automail's advances, along with a hastily-done translation on the back.)

Mustang's team gets the occasional joke souvenir; Ed knows that Breda and Havoc have a betting pool going (because of course they do) on who can most accurately guess where he'll go next, so he always makes sure to get things that aren't obviously tied to any place, and addresses the parcels to Hawkeye directly because he trusts her to thoroughly destroy the postmarked evidence.

(During their last phone call Al had pretty much admitted to dropping red herrings about Ed's plans in his letters back to the team, and Ed had laughed so hard he'd needed to sit down.)

But that's pretty much the most regular of it – Al, Winry, and sowing chaos in Mustang's office from afar – and no one's complained yet, so Ed figures this is good enough. Maybe someday when they're all back together again they can borrow some of his journals to read if they want to; he knows that Winry does enjoy reading about Al's travels, and if nothing else Al will certainly have fun spotting which parts are actually about alchemy and cracking them.

That's still some time off anyway.

Right now, though, he's got a new idea about that alkahestry fusion that Al had written about, and – how the hell do you even dial from Aerugo to Xing?

Ed has no idea, but there'd better be a way or he's gonna make one, see if he doesn't.