Depressed over his lot in life — especially being blacklisted by the Ferengi Commerce Authority — Quark goes to his homeworld of Ferenginar for some comfort from his mother, Ishka. The free-thinking Ishka is sympathetic, but clearly uneasy over his declaration that he will be "living" with her for an unspecified period of time. Quark soon learns the reason behind her uncertainty. When he enters his old bedroom, he finds Grand Nagus Zek — the Ferengi leader — hiding in the closet! It turns out that Ishka and Zek are in love.
Back on Deep Space Nine, Leeta and Rom decide to get married and begin to discuss their marriage details, with Rom agreeing to wear a Bajoran earring, but Leeta refusing to sign a Ferengi document that says she will give up all claim to money and properties.
Zek demands Quark keep their affair a secret, and Quark agrees, thrilled that his mother is now the beloved of the most powerful man on his homeworld. But when Quark hints that he would like Zek to reinstate his revoked business license, Zek refuses, reminding Quark that it is up to the FCA. Quark returns to his room, where Liquidator Brunt, the FCA agent who revoked his license, confronts him.
Brunt offers to give Quark a new business license if he breaks up Zek and Ishka. Quark agrees, and soon places doubts in Zek's head about Ishka's motives. The plan works — his mother is left heartbroken. Quark feigns sympathy, then contacts Brunt, who keeps his word and gives him the business license.
Zek offers Quark the position of First Clerk. Quark happily accepts — then discovers the Nagus is not the profit-making whiz he once was. By day's end, the Ferengi market exchange has experienced a drastic slide due to the Nagus's failing memory. A stunned Quark returns home, where Ishka reveals that she had been helping Zek. Quark realizes that his mother was more than Zek's lover — she was the power behind the throne. Ishka, in turn, realizes that Quark turned Zek against her, and may have destroyed the Ferengi economy in the process.
Quark encounters Brunt, who reveals that the entire plan was a set-up designed to help him become the new Grand Nagus. Quark is free to return to Deep Space Nine, but feels too guilty over what he has inadvertently done. The next day, Quark saves Zek by supplying him with enough brilliant advice to turn around the economic situation, but then reveals that the advice actually came from Ishka. After Quark admits to breaking them up, Zek and Ishka happily reunite.