Author Note: Dakota and her sexuality (aka — some much-needed context)
In regards to Dakota and the "shock" of what happened last chapter: I had many people reach out and question my decision to have her casually hook up with Wiat, claiming that it wasn't done well/foreshadowed enough and that I'm turning her bisexual with no warning, so I thought I'd hop on real quick and try to give a half-decent explanation:
In my opinion, sexuality is a super tricky thing to figure out sometimes, especially for Dakota who 1) is 16 and very inexperienced with sex/romance and 2) has had no reason to consider girls an option up until falling into the Avatar world, not recognizing her unusual awareness of Luka (I was super subtle about it, yes, but Dakota found her attractive in a sexual way from the START but of course she didn't understand it so therefore wouldn't "hint" at being attracted) for what it was.
I based her experience loosely on my own "revelation" moment, when I was kissed by a girl in my senior year of high school. Before that kiss, I saw women as pretty (something I had Dakota very clearly mention) but hadn't considered that my appreciation of women was different from any other straight girl. It took a girl kissing me to have the "OH DAMN, I THINK I'M A BIT GAY" moment. Even over five years later, I'm STILL figuring out who I am and what I want in regards to my bisexuality. As awesome as it is that there are people who firmly know from a young age where they stand sexually, it isn't like that for all of us — and that's OKAY.
Please keep in mind that this isn't about what the readers think is "correct" or "logical" — this is about Dakota and her way of dealing with grief/taking ownership of herself and ONLY herself for the first time since her Avatar journey started.
Is she bisexual? SHE DOESN'T KNOW YET! This is her first experience, after all, and sure it's exciting but she isn't exactly giving herself the time and space to analyze it (all that will come later, don't you worry). I made it clear in the chapter that she's still dealing with a TON of confusion regarding Zuko and her feelings for him and so she's in a bit of a "if I don't think about it, it'll magically go away/fix itself" mentality. Is this healthy? NOPE. But is it where Dakota feels most comfortable right now? YUP.
I'm not going to deny that it was sudden — but then again, big moments/changes are sometimes VERY sudden so I don't think it's that far out of the scope of reality. I understand that not everyone will enjoy this shift in character but then again, are we enjoying Zuko kissing/being with Mai — aka not being the person we know him to be after 2 books of development? Both Dakota and Zuko are making selfish decisions when it comes to intimacy because they are HURTING right now and are going to do whatever they can to feel wanted/validated. Again, it's not pretty and it's not smart but when we're hurting, human beings are exceptionally illogical.
Zuko and Dakota built their romantic relationship slowly — not cuz I wanted them to, but because Zuko was an absolute ass to start off with and Dakota was a timid little mouse who was adjusting both to the magical world she fell into as well as the grumpy douche-bag she was forced to travel with. If I had rushed them into sex or romance with no warning it wouldn't have made sense because of who they both were as people as well as the nature of their connection. For Zuko and Dakota, the romance came from months and months of becoming friends and slowly realizing that they wanted each other in a romantic (and sexual) sense. The bond they have took a long time to build and so of course it was a slow burn/had tons of foreshadowing because their kind of romance isn't something that can (or should) be rushed.
Dakota and Wiat's situation was very different and much less intense/emotional: after seeing Dakota fight and stand up for herself, Wiat's interest was peaked and so she spent a week getting to know her a bit and liked what she found, leading her to decide to see if Dakota was interested by kissing her, followed by Dakota responding positively to it because it felt good, she was attracted to Wiat in a way she hadn't felt before (HELLO DISTRACTION BY EXPLORING NEW SENSATIONS) and she wanted to remind herself that she's more than just the girl who's in love with Zuko...idk, to me it makes SENSE?
Why does Dakota having this spontaneous (HOT) experience suddenly mean she's for sure bisexual? Is sexual experimentation suddenly a foreign concept? LET HER LIVE, DAMMIT. We'll get her thoughts (and other peoples' thoughts) on it — and what it means for her sexuality — in future chapters but yeah...JUST LET MY BABY GET SOME ACTION/FIGURE OUT HER SEXUALITY AT HER OWN PACE CUZ SHE'S HURTING AND WIAT'S SMILE MELTED HER LOINS A BIT, SUE HER.
I'll end my note (and get off my slightly irritated high horse) with this: people not understanding/agreeing with my decision to have Dakota explore her sexuality/deal with her grief in this way doesn't make it any less a valid and important chapter of her story. Just because someone kisses/enjoys kissing someone of the same gender doesn't mean they're magically and fully bisexual — that's not taking into account 1) motive, 2) if there's a desire to be romantic and 3) the personal analyzation of the experience — which Dakota is very purposefully AVOIDING cuz lol to having tough conversations with yourself when your life is already stressful as feck.
I hope this helps some of you understand why I did the things I did, even if you don't agree with it — I fully support everyone having their own opinion and don't expect people to see things exactly my way. Please don't hesitate to PM me if you want to discuss this further because honest communication is king!
Lots of love, as always, and I hope to see y'all next chapter!