While investigating the disappearance of a J'naii shuttlecraft, the crew finds reason to believe the missing ship is stranded in an abnormal pocket called "null space." Riker and Soren, a member of the J'naii race, begin preparing to rescue the craft, and the two strike up a friendship. Their relationship develops quickly as the pair question each other about mating habits, since the J'naii are androgynous and do not identify themselves as either male or female. Despite this difference, sparks begin to fly between them.
Heading toward the null space in a shuttlecraft, Soren wonders to Riker if a J'naii and a human could be sexually compatible. She then tells him that this would be illegal in her society, where gender-specific relations are strictly forbidden. However, after she is injured during the mission, Soren becomes bolder. She insists on completing the mission, and also insists taking an even greater risk by telling Riker that she is attracted to him.
The following day, Riker and Soren locate the J'naii shuttlecraft and successfully load the injured J'naii onto the ship. Soren's colleague Krite thanks Riker for his help and invites Riker to join them for a celebration that evening. As Soren and Riker say a discreet goodbye, Krite notices the sparks between them. Later that evening, Soren and Riker sneak away from the dinner for a walk in the woods, where, hidden from everyone, they exchange a passionate kiss.
Continuing to work together to remove the J'naii shuttlecraft from the null space, Riker and Soren present a purely professional front to the crew. However, when Riker arrives at Soren's quarters for a pre-arranged meeting, he is informed that she has been taken into custody as a result of their relationship. Riker finally finds Soren in a civic chamber, sitting before a panel of judges. After admitting to her belief of being female, she is taken away by guards to be brainwashed.
Desperate, Riker concocts a plan to rescue Soren and returns to the planet to find her. Unfortunately, when he does locate her, he is too late. Having already undergone psychotectic therapy, Soren no longer has any belief in gender differences or any romantic feelings for Riker. Sadly, Riker returns alone to the U.S.S. Enterprise.