Sisko and Kassidy playfully tease each other about balancing duty and their relationship. After she leaves, Sisko blissfully smells her pillow.
Eddington briefs the staff about protecting a shipment of industrial replicators from the Maquis (former Federation citizens whose colonies were ceded to the Cardassians against their will). Sisko sends Worf to patrol the Badlands on the Defiant, to show the rebels and smugglers the Federation means business.
After the meeting, Odo and Eddington awkwardly approach Sisko with bad news — they lay out circumstantial evidence that suggests Kassidy may be a Maquis smuggler.
Sisko is momentarily defensive, but suggests the security team find a plausible reason to search Kassidy’s ship.
A crowd is watching Kira play a sport something like handball. Bashir is into the game, but Garak is watching Ziyal — the daughter of his nemesis Dukat and a Bajoran mistress.
As Sisko cooks a meal for Kassidy and Jake in his quarters, Sisko casually peppers Kassidy with questions about her flight plans. When she pushes back a bit he sets his suspicions aside and enjoys dinner.
Garak finds himself alone in a turbolift with Ziyal, and breaks the awkward silence by saying, “You’re not going to hurt me, are you?” She seems amused, and they part as friends.
When Kassidy’s ship (the Xhosa) is “randomly” selected for an inspection, she objects, saying she’ll miss her rendezvous with the persnickety Tholians. Sisko excuses her from the inspection, but, his suspicious aroused, he orders Eddington and Worf to trail her.
On the Defiant, O’Brien casually admires the strategy of the Maquis and shows sympathy for their plight. Worf huffs that terrorists have no honor and should be destroyed. Eddington says he has no opinion, he’s just following orders.
The Xhosa veers from Kassidy’s official flight plan, and makes a rendezvous with a Maquis raider in the Badlands.
Ziyal stops by Garak’s shop. The two have an awkward conversation. They both seem genuinely lonely, but we’ve never seen Garak in any relationship that he doesn’t see as somehow strategic, and we don’t know what Ziyal’s motives might be. She invites Garak to join her in a holosuite program that simulates a Cardassian spa.
Jake teases his father about missing Kassidy. After first snapping at Jake, Sisko insists “You and I. Things change, but not this.” He’s clearly thinking of how it will affect Jake if it turns out Kassidy is trading with terrorists.
Eddington reports the Xhosa beamed over cargo that was probably food or medical supplies. Dax tries to be supportive, but Sisko is in no mood for her advice.
When Kassidy returns, Sisko, clearly torn, sends her off to enjoy a holosuite program with Jake.
Sisko agrees with Eddington to wait until the Maquis rendezvous with her again and impound both ships. Eddington requests permission to remain on the station to supervise the transfer of the industrial replicators, admitting he’d rather not be in charge of the mission to capture Kassidy. Sisko agrees to command the Defiant for this mission.
That evening Sisko invites Kassidy on a spur-of-the-moment vacation. She says she’ll meet him on Risa, but after her cargo run. That’s all the confirmation Sisko needs.
In his shop, Garak is adjusting clothes for Quark when Kira storms in, warning Garak not to hurt Ziyal. Garak concludes that if Ziyal were planning to kill him, Kira would not be warning him away, and decides to go through with the meeting (though he insists it’s not a date).
After the Defiant has observing the Xhosa circling in the Badlands for hours, Odo suspects there is no Maquis ship on the way. Sisko leads a team that boards the Xhosa to confront Kassidy. She insists she was delivering vital medial supplies, but Sisko realizes she was bait to lure him way from the station.
Eddington tells a room full of armed security personnel that he’s been given new orders, to transfer the replicators to a different ship. After he dismisses his team, he calls Kira in for a private meeting, and stuns her with a phaser. After putting a junior officer in charge, Eddington boards the freighter with the industrial replicators, leaving his com badge behind.
Sisko has abandoned the Xhosa (against Odo’s advice) and rushes back to the station to find Eddington has made a clean getaway. Eddington sends a message explaining his motives. It’s an impressive monologue, mocking the Federation: “Nobody leaves paradise… In some ways you’re worse than the Borg…. You’re more insidious. You assimilate people and they don’t even know it.”
Sisko says he doesn’t care about Eddington’s politics, but he takes personally the fact that Eddington betrayed “your oath, your duty, and me.”
In the holosuite sauna, Ziyal celebrates the heat and welcomes Garak. She says she knows Garak tortured and executed her Bajoran grandfather, and that he could easily kill her. But “I’m an outcast back home,” says Ziyal. “I can’t go back and neither can you.” Garak produces a weapon, only to put it down saying he doesn’t need it, and — disarmed in more ways than one — he stretches out on the rocks to spend quality time with a fellow outcast.
Kassidy returns to the station alone, having dropped her crew off at a Maquis base. She refuses to apologize, and realizes she’s probably headed to prison. But she came back because she loves Sisko. They embrace, then Sisko calls in the security to take her away
Kassidy: “I’ll be back.”
Sisko: “I’ll be here.”