When a damaged Cardassian ship shows up near Deep Space Nine, Sisko has it brought in and he and O'Brien greet the passengers. Natima Lang and her students, Rekelen and Hogue, claim their ship was damaged in a meteor storm and request repairs. They then visit the Promenade, where Quark recognizes Natima and greets her excitedly. Natima slaps Quark and states that she told him she never wanted to speak to him again, but as she walks away, Quark tells Odo, "Today's the best day of my life."
Quark and Natima were once lovers and it is apparent as he follows her that she still has feelings for him. However, the second he quotes a Rule of Acquisition, any such feelings seem to vanish. Garak and Bashir pass by and Garak acknowledges Natima politely, prompting her to panic. She tells Sisko that she and her students must leave quickly, but O'Brien has discovered that her ship was actually damaged by Cardassian phaser fire. Natima reveals they are political outcasts intent on reforming the Cardassian government.
While Natima talks to Sisko, Quark visits Garak's shop and asks for advice on Cardassian fashion. The tailor describes Natima's taste in fashion as "too radical" for his liking and warns that a poor choice in fashion can be detrimental to one's health. A Cardassian warship arrives shortly thereafter, ignoring communication attempts and targeting the station with its weapons. Garak visits Ops to explain that Central Command wants Hogue and Rekelen, whom he describes as terrorists. Sisko warns Garak that if the Cardassians try to take them by force, he will respond in kind.
Desperate to get Natima back, Quark offers Hogue and Rekelen a cloaking device to help them escape, but as part of the agreement he requires that Natima stay with him. Natima tries to reason with Quark, explaining that she cannot stay, and threatens to shoot him with a phaser. Believing she is bluffing, Quark dares her to do so; she fires the phaser but looks as surprised as Quark. Natima tells him she barely touched the trigger and did not mean to fire, after which she declares her love for him. As the two of them happily reminisce about the past, Odo enters Natima's quarters and places her under arrest.
The Bajoran government has agreed to turn Natima, Hogue, and Rekelen over to the Cardassians in exchange for the release of several Bajoran prisoners. A former rival of Garak's, Gul Toran, visits Garak's shop and tells the tailor that Central Command has changed its mind; it wants the prisoners dead. In exchange for killing the prisoners, Garak will be allowed to return to Cardassia.
Meanwhile, Quark convinces Odo to help Natima and takes her and her students to their ship. Garak greets them at the airlock, where he laments that he must now kill Quark as well as Natima and her students. Quark attempts to reason with Garak, but before Garak can respond, Toran emerges from behind a cargo container. Toran reveals that he only used Garak to learn Hogue and Rekelen's whereabouts; Garak then shoots him.
Before Natima leaves, Quark tries one final time to convince her to stay. She tells him she must return to Cardassia until her work is done. "So all I have to do to get you back is wait until Cardassia becomes a free and democratic society?" he asks. Smiling, Natima tells him they will meet again some day and promises to make it worth the wait. Once she leaves, Quark asks why Garak shot Toran, to which Garak asks why Quark helped Natima. "I had no choice â I love her," Quark says. "And I love Cardassia, which is why I had to do what I did," Garak responds.