Captain Picard and Dr. Crusher prepare to look into a diplomatic request from the Kes, one of the planet Kesprytt's two societies, who wants entrance into the Federation. This is unprecedented because the planet's other society, the Prytt, wish no contact with the Federation or anyone else—even the Kes. Worf attempts to transport Crusher and Picard to the Kes, but they do not arrive there. Instead, they end up in a Prytt prison cell, where they realize they both have strange electronic devices implanted in the backs of their necks. Minister Lorin of the Prytt informs Picard and Crusher that they are being held because of suspected conspiracy with the Kes, and that the devices in their necks will soon reveal the truth. Back on the USS Enterprise, Commander Riker sets up a meeting with Kes Ambassador Mauric to address the abduction. Meanwhile, Beverly mysteriously receives her tricorder hidden in a tray of food. She notices that a map has been added to her directory and, sensing it may come from the Kes, she and Picard use it to make their escape.
Riker, Lt. Worf, and Deanna Troi meet with Ambassador Mauric, who tells them that since they have no formal relations with the Prytt, their best option is to insert a rescue team into the Prytt capital city. Riker first wants to try a friendlier method, but he allows Mauric to set up operations on the Enterprise. Meanwhile, Picard and Crusher follow the tricorder map through a maze of caverns where fireballs explode around them. They manage to elude the assault and continue through the caves.
Back on the Bridge, Riker is contacted by Lorin, who refuses to discuss Picard and Crusher and threatens an attack if Riker does not cease communications with the Kes. Even though Worf's analysis shows that the Prytt weapons are no danger to the Enterprise, Riker is at a loss until Mauric informs him that Picard and Crusher have been released by a Kes operative and are on their way to the Kes border. Riker is disturbed that the rendezvous will happen in a public place, but Mauric reassures him. Meanwhile, Picard and Crusher, who are still following the map, realize that the implants in their necks allow them to read each other's thoughts — whether they want to or not. When they separate to regain a little privacy, both are hit with a wave of nausea that renders them incapable of being apart.
The next day, Picard and Crusher continue their trek, reading each other's thoughts the whole way. When two Prytt troopers suddenly appear in their path, they decide to backtrack to ensure their safety. Mauric soon learns that the pair have not arrived at their destination, and summons Riker and Worf to angrily accuse them of conspiring with the Prytt. Riker assures him that this is not the case, but Mauric insists on leaving the Enterprise. Later, Picard and Crusher stop to rest for the night. Still able to hear each other's thoughts, they realize that there is not only a strong attraction between them — but Picard was once in love with Crusher, but he chose to suppress his feelings because of his friendship with her late husband Jack, who was an officer under his command aboard the Stargazer., and then later due to guilt over Jack's death under his command.
Determined to prove Mauric wrong and save his crew mates, Riker transports Minister Lorin aboard the ship against her will. He then sits down with Mauric and Lorin, but neither seems to care about Picard and Crusher. Instead, each of his "guests" is suspicious of the other, sure that the enemy society is banding with the Federation against them. Disgusted, Riker tells Mauric that, based on what he has seen, the Kes will be denied entrance into the Federation. He then tells Lorin that if Picard and Crusher are not returned, her insular society will be inundated by a flood of information requests from Starfleet investigators. At that moment, Picard and Crusher arrive at the Kes border and, while Picard makes it across, Crusher is caught by Prytt security forces. Her captors hail Lorin, who orders both Crusher and Picard to be transported back to the Enterprise. Safe at home, Picard and Crusher have the implants removed and share a dinner without reading each other's minds. Picard suggests that, given what they know, they should not be afraid to explore their feelings for one another. Crusher, in a rush of tenderness, leans forward and kisses Picard. However, her emotions threaten to overwhelm her, causing her to turn bright red and feel a bit fearful. She tells Picard that perhaps they should be more afraid and hints that they should go slowly, not to rush into any commitment. Picard agrees, understanding how shy and sensitive Crusher is. They bid each other goodnight and Crusher slowly leaves Picard's quarters, noticeably upset yet resolved in her decision. Meanwhile, Picard blows out the candles leaving him alone in his darkened stateroom. He stares into space, wrestling with his mixed emotions over Dr. Crusher's rejection.