Clara goes out for the first time since recovering from her breakdown (in Season 2 of Lost & Found Music Studios) and returns to The Next Step Dance Studio, where she turns up at TNS East. Although Clara knows exactly where she is, in her mind she feels lost and doesn't know where she truly belongs. She has two choices: make a fresh start and return to dance at The Next Step, or resume her old spot at Lost & Found Music Studios (which Mr. T has assured her she will not lose) composing and producing music for James's band. Clara finds Daniel — her sister Giselle's former dance partner — in Studio 1, and the pair sit down to talk and try to work out what Clara should do. But ultimately, the final choice lies in Clara's hands...
Main characters and cast
- Jeni Ross as Clara
- Brennan Clost as Daniel
- Alexandra Beaton as Emily
- Briar Nolet as Richelle
At TNS East, Daniel was standing at a ballet barre in the middle of the dance floor carrying out a series of dance exercises. Although he didn't dance very much these days since becoming a choreographer, it was still important for him to keep in shape.
Having finished his exercising, Daniel turned round and looked across Studio 1 at the office where Emily could be seen through the window at her desk, busily sorting through a large pile of paperwork, having asked (or should that be 'ordered') him not to disturb her. Better put the barre back, Daniel thought. It's not going to be needed in today's class. Putting this thought into action, he began to move the barre against the wall where it had been before.
Having done this, Daniel once more turned in the direction of the office — only to get a shock when he found he was no longer alone in the studio. While he had been moving the barre, an attractive teenage girl had silently entered behind him. She was slim and short with a pale complexion, long wavy red hair and blue eyes, and was wearing a dark green hooded jacket over a pale yellow t-shirt and blue jeans, as well as a backpack. She wore runners on her feet, the rubber soles of which had enabled her to enter without Daniel hearing. Daniel recognized her instantly. It was Clara, Giselle's younger sister. She had attended The Next Step along with Giselle, until a new interest for music drew her away to Lost & Found Music Studios. Clara smiled, and Daniel smiled back.
"Hi, Daniel," Clara said. "It's good to see you again. Sorry, did I startle you?"
"Er... of course not," replied Daniel. "It's good to see you too, Clara. So, how are you?"
"Well, to tell you the truth, I feel..." Clara paused, trying to find the right word to describe the way she felt right now. Then, suddenly, such a word came to her mind. "Lost."
"Lost?" Daniel echoed. "How do you mean?"
"Well... it's a long story," Clara replied. "Have you got time?"
"Yes, of course. I've always got time for my friends." Daniel looked up at the clock on the studio wall. "We've got an hour to spare before dance class. So,why don't we sit down, and you can tell me all about it?" He led Clara to the bench standing against the wall, and they sat down.
Then Clara told Daniel everything that had happened to her after landing her spot at Lost & Found: from how her lack of confidence and timidity caused her to often experience stage-fright; right up up to when she started to write and produce music for James's band, but became overwhelmed by her own pressure to perfect some demo tapes for Lost & Found's Music Week — as a result of which she suffered a breakdown and ended up sobbing uncontrollably in John's arms on the floor of the Recording Studio, before she was pulled from Lost & Found by her parents and taken to the hospital for diagnosis.
"Things seemed to go wrong too often," Clara concluded sadly. "I even ended up fighting with Giselle about my not having any friends there. My own sister! Thankfully, we made up before she went off on tour and she video-calls every so often to say how she's getting on.
"This is the first time I've been out since recovering from my breakdown. The reason I feel lost is because I don't know whether I should make a fresh start and come back to dance here at The Next Step, or resume my old spot at Lost & Found — which Mr. T has said he'll keep open for me. That's why I came here: because it's where I started off, and because I needed a friend to talk to."
"You can't talk to your folks, then?" asked Daniel.
"Not really," replied Clara. "Dad's away on a business trip at the moment, and Mom works at home proofreading books for Clark & Ross Publishing, so she doesn't really have a lot of time to sit down and talk." Clara paused for a moment, and then continued. "My feeling of being lost has also started to represent itself in a dream I've been having lately. I'm outside my house, and it's foggy. I turn round to go inside, but the fog's now closed in behind me and the house has disappeared. The fog gets thicker and thicker, and I don't know which way to turn or go. Then, thankfully, I wake up."
Daniel moved closer, put a comforting arm around Clara's shoulder and she laid her head on his. "I also had my share of things going wrong for me when I was a dancer here," he said. "Thankfully, I've managed to put them all behind me. And so will you. Tell you what. A-Troupe will be coming in soon to perform their new routines. Why don't you stay and watch? Perhaps it'll help you work out what you should do."
Clara lifted her head, looked up at Daniel and smiled. "Thank you, I'd like that," she said. "I'd better call Mom, so she'll know where I am."
Daniel and Clara got up from the bench. Clara reached into the inside pocket of her jacket to take out her phone, but before she could do so, the office door opened and Emily emerged, striding towards them.
"O.K., Daniel. That's all the paperwork dealt with," she said in a bossy, efficient, no-nonsense manner. "Now we'll see how good A-Troupe's new routines are..." She broke off as she suddenly realized there was someone in Studio 1 who shouldn't be there, and regarded the newcomer (or "outsider", as she tended to think of those who didn't belong to TNS East — a term which Daniel himself hated, considering it hostile) with a hint of suspicion. "Who are you?"
Daniel stepped in hastily. "Emily, you remember Clara? Giselle's sister?"
A look of realization crossed Emily's face. "Oh... yes, of course." She smiled, and held out her hand to Clara, who accepted it. "I'm sorry, Clara," she said, more politely this time. "It's good to see you again. Welcome to TNS East. And how's Giselle?"
"Hi, Emily," said Clara. "It's good to see you too. And Giselle's fine — she's touring England at the moment." TNS East? Clara thought. Things have changed since I was last here.
"Clara's going to be my guest for dance class today — if that's all right with you, Emily?" Daniel said.
"Yes, that'll be fine, Daniel," Emily replied.
Having called her mom, Clara settled on the bench outside Emily's office to await the arrival of A-Troupe, while Daniel stood close by. Not long after, a buzz of conversation heralded the arrival in Studio 1 of the dancers. As they took up their positions, one or two gazed quizzically in Clara's direction — no doubt wondering who this mysterious red-haired girl in Studio 1 was, and why she was here. Daniel walked out onto the floor, gesturing for Clara to follow him. Clara did so.
"I'm sure you've all noticed we have a visitor today," Daniel announced. "A-Troupe, I'd like you to meet Clara. She's Giselle's sister."
"Hi, Clara," all the dancers chorused welcomingly. A girl with thick blonde hair then stepped forward, holding out her hand to Clara and smiling. Clara smiled back, and the girls shook hands.
"Hi, Clara, I'm Richelle, dance captain of A-Troupe. Welcome to TNS East," the girl said. "We've all heard of Giselle, and seen her performing at some time or other. She was a very good dance captain."
"Why, thank you, Richelle," Clara replied. "That's very kind of you." Clara then turned to A-Troupe. "And thank you all for your welcome."
"Clara, why don't you go and join Emily?" said Daniel, indicating the bench outside the office, near which Emily was already standing. "We're going to need the whole floor for the routines." Richelle went back to her position, while Clara returned to the bench and sat down. Daniel took up his choreographer's position on the floor and addressed A-Troupe. "OK, everyone. Just carry on performing as normal. As far as you're concerned, that's Miss Invisible who's here today."
Miss Invisible? Clara thought. Now I wonder where Daniel got that from?
Clara sat on the bench, thoroughly engrossed in A-Troupe's routines and reminded of her own dancing days at The Next Step. Everyone had been really friendly, and made her feel welcome. As she watched, the feeling of being lost slowly but surely began to melt away in her mind, leaving the final decision as to where her future truly lay...
Dance class was over and the A-Troupers, after having told Clara how great it was to see her and thanking her for coming, had disappeared from Studio 1, bound for the locker room, then to freshen up, before getting changed to either go home or hang out for a while at Neutral Grounds. Clara got herself ready to leave, while Daniel went into the office to tell Emily that he was going to give Clara a lift home, but would be coming straight back for their usual discussion about the dance routines they had watched. As Daniel came out of the office, he noticed that Clara now appeared a lot better than when she came in.
"Hey, Clara. How's it going?" he asked.
Clara smiled. "Fine, thanks, Daniel," she said. "I don't feel lost any more, and I now know where I belong."
"So, is it The Next Step or Lost & Found?" asked Daniel.
"Lost & Found, definitely," Clara replied. "I've realized it would be a mistake to try to return to The Next Step. While I have great memories of when Giselle and I danced here, they're best left undisturbed."
Before leaving, Clara went into the office to thank Emily, who was now back at her desk, for making her feel welcome at TNS East and allowing her to stay and watch the routines.
"You're welcome, Clara," Emily said with a smile. "I hope you'll come back to TNS East again some time."
"I hope so, too," Clara replied. "See you around, Emily. Bye."
As Clara made her way towards the exit where Daniel was waiting, for some unknown reason she suddenly recalled the hymn "Amazing Grace", which was sung at the Catholic Mass she and her parents had attended last Sunday (the family being Irish Canadians) — in particular the line "I once was lost, but now I'm found..." That could apply to me, Clara thought, smiling to herself. This lost girl is well and truly found.
- After having called this fanfiction Lost Girl, I later began to think that Clara's Choice might be a better title and considered changing it. However, in the end I decided to go with Lost Girl because the story concerned Clara feeling lost and not knowing where she truly belonged — The Next Step or Lost & Found.
- I decided to feature Clara as the main character because I wanted to write about what might have happened after she had recovered from the breakdown she suffered towards the end of Lost & Found Music Studios Season 2, and also because she hasn't yet made a crossover appearance on The Next Step (well, not at the time of writing anyway).
- The outfit Clara wears in this fanfiction is based on that worn by her in the Lost & Found Music Studios Season 1 episode "Day After Day". Clara's backpack was my own addition.
- The clock on the wall of Studio 1 that Daniel looks at before listening to Clara's story was added by me for this fanfiction. As far as I know, there isn't any clock in the studio (well, I haven't seen one in the TV show).
- Clark & Ross Publishing, the book publishers for which Clara's mom works as a proofreader, is an in-joke referring to Jordan Clark (Giselle) and Jeni Ross (Clara) respectively. Give yourself an A+ if you spotted this!
- Daniel's dislike of Emily's use of the term "outsider", which she applies to anyone who doesn't belong to TNS East, and which he considers hostile, is my own personal view.
- I must admit, the trickiest part of writing this fanfiction — apart from all the editing I had to do until I was finally satisfied with it — was deciding how I should end it. Eventually, I decided to have Clara suddenly recall from Catholic Mass the hymn "Amazing Grace" and its line "I once was lost, but now I'm found...", which she feels could apply to her. The idea of Clara's family being Irish Canadians derives from her sister Giselle having mentioned in the Season 2 episode "Better Than This" that she is of Irish descent.
- If you want to know what happened after Clara returned to Lost & Found, then check out the sequel Return to Lost & Found.
For the collective works of the author, go here.