Notes: Just a little pointless oneshot. Metaphorical nature BS, do I ever write anything else? Definitely not my best work and I better post it before I change my mind, but I haven't written MASH in so long I had to post it, just to get the ball rolling.
"If you're gonna be making accusations this serious, Burns, you better have something to back 'em up," Potter said calmly, not looking up from the paperwork before him on his desk.
"Everyone knows it, sir," Houlihan snapped immediately, coming to Frank's defense. "The whole camp's talking about it."
"Are you going to do something about it, or not?" Frank demanded.
"Well, for such a big problem that everyone knows about, you two are the only ones making a fuss about it."
"No one else cares enough to."
"Then I think you answered your own question, Burns."
"Colonel, it's for the good of the outfit! If they're not stopped, their corruption could spread! Heaven only knows what I've been exposed to, living with them. Not to mention the patients…."
"I'll think about it. Now don't you two have places you're supposed to be?"
It was a wheel web resting in the middle of a cherry blossom tree on the edge of camp, which Colonel Potter passed every day when he walked Sophie. Magnificent, at least seven inches in diameter, cartoonish in its perfection. Though he occasionally saw little winged insects caught in the delicate silk, Potter never saw the builder of the web—probably became breakfast for a red-backed shrike or squashed under some foot soldier's boot.
But her web remained, strewn between the thin branches and beneath the soft pink blossoms in full bloom.
"Colonel sir, how does a little old spider make somethin' that big? How do its little legs stretch it across the tree?" Radar asked him one day, squinting at the web glinting under a layer of dew in the early morning sun.
Colonel Potter chuckled. "Well, some folks say they can fly, but that's a load of meadow muffins."
"Do they throw it, sir?"
"You could say that," Potter explained, patting Sophie's nose gently. "She releases a thread that the wind catches and, if she's lucky, attaches to the branch. Mind, it's a sticky kind of thread. That's the first bridge. She's gotta cross it carefully, and she does that a few times, adding more and more of the sticky thread until it's nice and sturdy."
"Gee, sir, doesn't she fall? What if that first thread doesn't attach right away?"
"She tries until she gets it right. Once she makes a few more sections like that, she starts makin' the circular threads, until it's all done and she's ready to catch her prey. It's nice and sturdy but even the smallest bit o' damage can make it fall apart—" Potter snapped his fingers, "—like that. But it can always be fixed, if she's still around to do the repairin'."
Radar shuddered. "I'm glad she's not around. No offense but I don't like spiders, sir."
"I wouldn't exactly want one crawlin' in next to me in bed either, son."
"'ello gents," Hawkeye and BJ appeared behind them, standing inches apart, hands brushing.
"What are we doing gathered around this tree?" BJ asked.
"Learning about spider webs, sirs. It's pretty interesting, you know, even though they're creepy-crawly. Colonel Potter really knows his stuff."
"Major Burns and Major Houlihan could do with a little enlightenment on the subject, too," Potter muttered, and when Radar said, "What, sir?" he shook his head.
The younger surgeons wandered away in search of other activities to kill the boredom, Hawkeye's arm slung casually around BJ's shoulder. A friendly gesture, nothing to see here. Like everyone didn't already know. Despite what Houlihan and Burns may have thought, Potter wasn't blind, either.
He admired the glittering web once more, so intricately woven. He wondered how many times the spider had attempted it, what a relief it must've been to complete it so perfectly. He wondered how it'd begun for Hawkeye and BJ, how many times they'd thrown that silk into the wind, waiting for it to hit something, anything, and make the connection.
"I was always taught to leave the spider webs alone, son," Potter said to Radar then. "Just thinka how hard she worked on it. Who'd wanna rip up somethin' so pretty anyway."
Feedback makes the spiders happy, and keeps them out of your beds.