Checkmate'verse by beadattitude
There is nothing about this story that I don't utterly love, from the transformation, to John's coping, to everyone else's coping, to Rodney the cat-person and John-person.
1.) John. He's--even as a cat, he's John, and I can't even describe how perfectly in character the cat is. It's so cracked it goes beyond crack and comes out on the other side. He communicates with his body more than words, he's reserved and quiet and this presence that fills every page even when he's not there. He's idiosyncric and irritable and indulging all those parts of himself the man's never allowed himself. He's neurotic, in a positive way of embracing it. I love how the change allows him more openness with people--requires it just to get what he needs. I think honestly I made the first dolphin-noise squeeing the first time he lets himself be petted; I literally had to stop and take a moment to do this little victory dance. I love how he interacts with everyone, from team to subordinates, how he alters his method but not his intent. He's still John Sheppard, being a good leader and a good friend. He's just learning new ways to do it, and some of them might even transfer over to being human again. That's good stuff.
Related, interesting note on touch; John's never been very touchy-feely with anyone outside his team. If I kept track, Rodney's gotten the bulk of casual touch from him, and he gets most of his from Rodney. That he'd be most comfortable learning about his newer--tactile requirements? Instincts?--with Rodney makes perfect sense, with someone who knows perfectly he's trusted with touch for a reason, knowing how to give John exactly what he needs in the least threatening way possible.
2.) Rodney. I can't even get *over* Rodney's awesomeness and competence and flailing that he's dealing with his best friend (and maybe crush) in the body of his favorite animal on earth. It's like peanut butter and chocolate! Two great things together! His shock and flailing (no one on earth does flailing like Rodney--it's an art form), fierce protectiveness, friendship, his sheer competence with John, able to still see his friend in a deeply pettable body. Er. Cat body that is. It's fantastic to see him off-balance when John throws him for a loop, hysterical to see him work to find the answers he needs, making a huge effort to learn the person living in the cat the way he couldn't quite do while John was human.
3.) Randomly, as preslash, it's possibly the most interesting courtship in history, though I'm not sure either of them really know that's what they're doing. They nailed meals and entertainment, cohabitation, getting to know each other without the normal ways of commmunication. John can't prevaricate with this body like he can with the other; Rodney is *motivated* to work on interpreting what John wants and needs, like he might not have thought he could with John in human form. As pre-ship, it's--actually pretty amazing how much territory they cover. They're dating. In a non-bestiality way. Basically, all they have left is marriage and sex--they're doing everything else a couple does. And well, talk about Dr. Who and more Batman. They can do that on the honeymoon. During sex.
4.) Teyla and Ronon (or Teamness) - I love them here. Teyla's care, letting John set the parameters of their relationship, working toward being comfortable with each other in their new forms, showing his feelings in action. Very John Sheppard; he's never needed words with his team anyway. They're *cute*, and I have these visions of John stretched across Teyla's lap dozing on movie night while she tries very hard to pay attention to the movie and not indulge in a orgy of petting every chance she gets. They're still them. Ronon was just as fun--his discomfort at first, not sure what to do or how to do it, uncomfortable with John because of their friendship, not sure of the limits. And John taking it into his
5.) John doing math as a cat never stops being the most awesome thing in history. I'm just saying.
6.) Carson and Elizabeth's faux pas never stop being funny. Irritating, and very them, and very cute, both in their worry over John and their contrition.
7.) I never stop squeeing for the cat toys. That's so many kinds of awesome right there I have no words.
8.) Any moment that John's getting his belly stroked. No words.
I'm looking forward to the end of this so much. It's just that awesome.
Other longer recs of fic are under the long recs tag. I think I have most of them under there now, but still hunting them.