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Profit and Loss


Production no.: 438
Written by: Flip Kobler & Cindy Marcus
Directed by: Robert Wiemer
Stardate: not given 
First satellite airdate: March 19, 1994
 
Mary Crosby ................
Andrew Robinson .........
Michael Reilly Burke ....
Heidi Swedberg ............
Edward Wiley ..............
Natima
Garak
Hogue
Rekelen
Gul Toran


A small Cardassian ship approaches the station, and it's in trouble. The engines are disabled, and life support is on reserve power. They don't answer the station's hail. Sisko orders it tractored to a docking bay. There, he and O'Brien meet three Cardassians who step out of the ship. One is a woman who introduces herself as Professor Natima Lang; the others are a younger man and woman, Hogue and Rekelen, her students. None are injured, but Natima says they were caught in a meteor swarm, and assures Sisko they'll be on their way as soon as possible. "We know having Cardassians on a Bajoran station may cause trouble. That's the last thing we want." Sisko says they can stay here while O'Brien fixes the ship, and if they stick to the Promenade, he's sure there won't be any trouble.

Garak and Bashir are at Quark's, having a friendly lunchtime argument, with Bashir as usual fishing for hints about Garak's status. Assuming he's not a spy, perhaps he's an outcast. "Or maybe I'm an outcast spy?" Garak smiles. "How could you be both?" asks Bashir, and Garak looks at him. "I never said I was either." Below, at the bar, Odo approaches Quark. He's heard Quark has gotten his hands on a small cloaking device, which is highly illegal. Quark, of course, denies it, and Odo serves notice that if Quark tries to sell it, he'll spend 50 years in a penal colony.

Then Quark sees Natima and her students walking down the Promenade. He rushes out and calls out to Natima. She stops and locks eyes with him. "I knew you'd come b -- " he begins, before she slaps him. "I told you never to speak to me again." And she walks off. Odo comes up to Quark and asks if he's all right. "All right?" the Ferengi breathes, holding his jaw. "This is the happiest day of my life!"

Quark catches up to Natima and blocks her path, practically begging to buy her and her friends a drink. Learning that she's a teacher now, and these are her students, Quark congratulates her on achieving her dream. Rekelen and Hogue say that Natima isn't just a teacher, but their inspiration. She teaches political ethics, and Rekelen adds, "Her teachings will change the future of Cardassia." Quark drags them back to the bar, and Natima has no choice but to follow.

After he sits them down and goes to the bar, a curious Odo asks, "So, how well does this woman know you? Just enough to dislike you, or well enough to really hate you?" Quark tells him she used to work at the station as a correspondent for the Cardassian Information Service, before Odo's time. "If you have to know, I was the love of her life." "Must have been some life," Odo mutters as Quark heads back to the table with only one drink, which he sets before Natima, telling the other two to get theirs at the bar.

"You know, you're as beautiful as ever," Quark says to Natima, who replies, "And you're as big a liar as ever." "You see?" he beams. "Just like old times." But he's not lying when he tells her he's missed her. Natima still refuses to show any sign of wanting to resume their relationship or even be friendly. Then she spots Garak coming down the stairs, and so do Rekelen and Hogue. And Garak sees them. He only nods politely and leaves, but Natima and her students make a hurried exit.

O'Brien comes to Ops with the ship's damaged navigational cell. He knows one thing for certain: they weren't in any meteor swarm. The ship was hit by Cardassian disruptors. At that moment, Natima and her students arrive to see about getting their ship back; realizing that the truth is out, she admits to it. She didn't tell them before because Cardassians don't involve others in their politics. "Being shot at by your own people goes a little beyond politics," Sisko says, and Natima answers, "We take our politics very seriously." If she doesn't get her students to safety soon, they will be killed, and so will the future of Cardassia.

She and her students explain further in Sisko's office. They are dissidents, leaders of a movement against the military regime on Cardassia, and they are fugitives because the military fears the spread of their ideas. Natima says she has to get her students away from the station as soon as possible. Sisko promises to dispatch additional work crews to repair their ship, and Hogue mentions that they saw another Cardassian in the bar. "Then we may have a problem," says Sisko. "Mr. Garak is a bit of a mystery to us." He will assign them guest quarters, where they should be safe until their ship is ready.

Quark pays Garak a visit in his shop, to see what he's offering, so he says, and the two of them have a very loaded conversation. Garak indicates a dress which he says is the latest fashion on his homeworld. Quark's lady friend might find this style appealing. "Personally, I find this style a bit too radical, but your friend seems the sort who appreciates that kind of thing." "Different tastes for different people," counters Quark. "Nothing wrong with that, is there?" Garak smiles. "You'd be surprised how detrimental a poor choice of fashion can be. Take this dress. It may be all the rage now -- but in a very short time, it can become tiresome, an affront to the eyes. Certain people might even think it's objectionable." He rips the dress. "And then -- nothing but rags." Quark gets the point. Garak offers some free advice. "There's nothing worse than following the wrong trend." He suggests that Quark mention this to his lady friend. "She's chosen to associate herself with some rather flamboyant companions. It would be a tragedy if she got in the way when her friends go out of fashion." "If anyone tries to harm her," Quark says, "they're going to have to deal with me." But Garak isn't impressed by his bravado. "What are you going to do? Shortchange them at the Dabo table?"

Quark goes to Natima's quarters, where she asks what he wants from her, and he tells her he knows she's in trouble. He wants to help. He owes her his life for not having turned him over to the authorities for selling food to the Bajorans. Natima says she admired his courage. "I thought you were a man of honor." "I'm a Ferengi," says Quark. "You should've known better." She agrees. But instead, they fell in love, and spent a month together in bliss before Quark betrayed her, using her personal access codes to authorize payments for goods he never provided. Quark says, quite honestly, that that was the worst mistake of his life. "And you'd do it again in a second," says Natima. "I believed in you, Quark. But you were using me, like you use everyone. For profit."

Quark wants to make it up to her. He will help her for nothing in return, except her promise to stay with him forever. Natima can't -- her students need her. "If you don't stay with me," Quark says, "I'll have to follow you. And I will, wherever you go, until you agree to take me back." "I'm part of the Cardassian underground," Natima argues. "Following me will only get you killed." But he says he'll take that chance. He'll turn the bar over to Rom. Natima seems tempted for a moment by Quark's willingness to make such a sacrifice. However, she tells him, "It won't work, Quark. You say you'd do anything for me. Maybe right now, you even believe it. But I know better. In the end, you'd only care about yourself." "But I love you," he says. "I don't love you," Natima counters. He looks at her knowingly. "Now which one of us is lying?" Quark leaves then, at her request, but if she needs anything, he'll be waiting. "It'll be a long wait," she says.

A Cardassian warship approaches the station, and will not respond to hails. Taking up an attack posture, it powers its forward disruptors. Sisko calls for shields, and to prepare to return fire if necessary. Then, astonishingly, Garak shows up in Ops. "Commander? I think we should talk."

He and Sisko go into the commander's office. Sisko asks him why a Cardassian ship is threatening the station, and Garak says no one is threatening anyone. "The Central Command merely wants to make sure they have your undivided attention." Sisko assumes this has something to do with Professor Lang and her students. "'Students' is a rather benign term for them," Garak tells him. "'Terrorists' would be more accurate. The Cardassian government would very much like Hogue and Rekelen returned home immediately." But Sisko says they haven't committed any crimes here.

Garak says the Central Command would hate to see the Federation pulled into this insignificant internal affair, but Sisko isn't buying. The behavior of the warship indicates to him that the Central Command considers Hogue and Rekelen dangerous. "Not at all," scoffs Garak. "Annoying, perhaps. Inconvenient, maybe. But dangerous? Hardly. And if they were dangerous, would the Central Command entrust the situation to me, a simple tailor?" "Which only confirms what I have suspected all along," Sisko counters. "You, Mister Garak, are no simple tailor." Garak chuckles. "Really, Commander, that's another discussion entirely." All Sisko needs to know is that the return of Rekelen and Hogue is in Cardassia's best interests. Sisko asks if Garak really expects him to turn over Cardassian political refugees on his say-so. Garak replies that the decision is Sisko's; he's simply relaying a message. "Then relay this," says Sisko. "Tell the Central Command, if anyone attempts to take Hogue and Rekelen by force, I will respond in kind. Am I clear, Mister Garak?" Garak gives him an icy smile. "Absolutely. Thank you for your time."

Hogue and Rekelen are at a side table at Quark's when Quark comes up with two mugs of kanar on the house, saying they're the drinks he promised them earlier. The two "students" don't want to associate with him; Professor Lang has told them Quark is not to be trusted. Quark says he finds their loyalty touching. He understands. "So, if you don't want to talk to the only person who can get you off this station in one piece, that's fine with me." "Wait," Hogue says, stopping Quark as he starts to walk off. Quark sits, and tests a few objects first to see if Odo is about, before he confides to them that he has a cloaking device. It's not in the best condition, but it will work long enough to get them away from the station. And it's a gift. All he asks is that they convince Natima to stay. Rekelen objects that Natima will never agree to do that, but Quark points out that they're the ones the Cardassian military is after. "He's right," says Hogue. "She shouldn't have to risk her life for our crimes." They finally agree to try, and tell Quark to meet them at their quarters in an hour.

Quark shows up on time, with the cloaking device, but only Natima is there; Rekelen and Hogue are waiting at the ship. "Perfect," says Quark happily. "I know my quarters might seem a little crowded at first, but tomorrow morning, I'll put in a request for something bigger." Natima tells him that won't be necessary. She's not staying. Quark says he and her students had an agreement. "Quark, you say you love me," Natima says. "Then give me that cloaking device and let me be on my way." Quark bares his soul. "Don't you understand, since you left me, not a day goes by that I don't regret what I did. And now you're asking me to lose you again." Natima doesn't have time for this. She pulls out a phaser and aims it at him. "I didn't want to have to get it this way, but I need that device." She will shoot if she has to, she says. Quark hears the uncertainty in her voice, and reaches out to gently take the weapon, but at that moment, she actually does shoot, and he falls, stunned.

Natima reacts in horror. She didn't mean to shoot, she tells him as he comes to, groaning in pain. He is reproachful at first, but softens, and she massages his chest for him. She's sorry for all the horrible things she said. "I love you, Quark. I've always loved you. Even when I hated you." They kiss passionately; Quark tells her that they're together again and have the rest of their lives to be happy.

"I wish it was that easy," Natima says sadly. She isn't the same person she was seven years ago. The movement is her life; she doesn't have time for anything else. Quark says they'll make the time. It's not right that she should be alone. "I'm not alone," she tells him. "I have my students, my dreams for a better Cardassia." "But are dreams enough?" he asks. "Can dreams make you laugh? Can dreams hold you close at night?" "No," she replies. "But my life demands that I make certain sacrifices." Quark says she's made them, but that doesn't mean she can't be happy. They reminisce about the good times they had together. Natima insists she can't abandon her students. "You've done enough for the movement," Quark argues. "You lit the match. Let them carry the torch. Or are you saying the movement won't survive without you?" She says it will, and he tells her to let it. And she realizes he really does love her. "With all that I am, Natima," Quark says fervently. "Forever." Finally, Natima agrees to stay, and Quark is in heaven. But then the door chimes.

It's Odo, looking reluctant about what he has to do. Natima is under arrest. "Commander Sisko will explain. I am truly sorry." Quark protests, but Natima tells him it's all right, and follows Odo.

In their cell, Natima, Rekelen, and Hogue listen as Sisko explains that they are being turned over to the Cardassian government. Cardassia has offered to hand over a half dozen Bajoran prisoners in exchange, and the Bajoran provisional government has agreed to it. Neither Sisko nor Odo like this one bit. Sisko tells them he is fighting it every way he can, and he isn't giving up. He will take this to the Chamber of Ministers. "But in the end, this is a Bajoran station, and I have to abide by their decision. No matter how much I disagree with it."

A Cardassian gul, Toran, enters Garak's shop. "How the mighty have fallen," he sneers. "They've made you a Gul," Garak observes coolly. "I didn't realize the situation on Cardassia had gotten so desperate." It is quite obvious that these two have no love lost. But Toran is here to make Garak an offer: an end to his exile, in exchange for seeing to it that Hogue and Rekelen don't leave the station alive. He has convinced the Central Command that this is the best course, rather than Garak's suggestion of a prisoner exchange. "Kill them and all you do is create martyrs," Garak points out, but Toran says, "You overestimate their importance." Garak will think of a way to arrange something, he's sure. "Lang's death will benefit us both. Unless of course, you intend to spend the rest of your life as a tailor." "I see your point," says Garak. "I knew you would," Toran replies, and leaves the shop.

Odo is reading a crime novel in his office when Quark enters to try to convince him to let Natima and her students go. He claims at first that it's because a freer society on Cardassia would benefit the entire sector and be great for business as well. Odo doesn't buy it. "I know you better than you think, Quark. This isn't about Cardassia. And for once, it's not even about profit. This is about Professor Lang." Quark admits it, and Odo asks why he didn't tell him that before. "What was I supposed to say? That I love her? That I would do anything for her? That without her, my life would be meaningless? Sure, I could say those things, but what good would it do? How could I expect you to understand? You've never had those feelings. You don't know what it means to really care about another person. You've never been in love. You've got all the emotions of a stone! No offense."

Quark offers to let Odo in on every underhanded deal his brother Rom is involved in. Odo's not interested. Desperate, Quark proposes that Odo do it for him. "Sure, sometimes we're on opposite sides, but that doesn't mean that we aren't close. I never told you this, Odo, but I consider you as dear to me as my brother." "And I've seen how well you treat him," Odo scoffs. But when Quark gets down on his knees and grovels, Odo gives in at last. In his view, Rekelen and Hogue have done nothing to merit death, so he will free them in the name of justice. Quark is so happy that he actually hugs Odo. "Let go," the shapeshifter growls. He takes Quark into the holding area, and releases Natima and the others. "Good luck," he says as they exit.

Quark rushes to the docking bay airlock with the three Cardassians. He has installed the cloaking device on their ship, he tells them. But when he opens the airlock, Garak is there, holding a phaser on them. "Exile tends to wear a bit thin after a while, even with surroundings as pleasant as these," he explains. Quark tells him to take Rekelen and Hogue, but leave Natima alone; Natima is outraged, but Hogue says he's right. However, Garak says that it's not his decision to make, or theirs. "Do you think killing us will change anything?" Natima argues. "Cardassia is slipping out of the hands of the military, and nothing you do will prevent it." Garak isn't here to debate. He tells Quark things would have been simpler if he had taken his advice. "A pity, really. Personally, I rather like you, Quark." Garak admits it's against his better judgment, but he must carry out the Central Command's verdict.

Then Toran steps out of the shadows, holding another phaser. He says he's making sure Garak carries out his assignment, but Garak guesses accurately that he plans to take the credit. Toran smiles contemptuously. "I can't believe that you were once considered clever. Do you think that by completing this one simple task, your reputation will be restored with the Central Command?" He takes aim at Rekelen, but then Garak fires at Toran and disintegrates him completely. "Some people should never be promoted," he muses. "Well, don't just stand there. Your ship is waiting."

Quark promises to see to it that every Ferengi on the station shops at Garak's store. "That alone makes it all worthwhile," Garak says sarcastically. Rekelen and Hogue board the ship, and Quark kisses Natima, who says she has to say goodbye -- not to her students, but to him. Maybe someday she can come back, but not 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?" Quark asks. "I'll make it worth the wait," Natima promises. He can't come with her; it's not his fight, and she couldn't live with herself if something happened to him. "I need to know that you're here, safe. That way, part of me will always be safe, too. I love you, Quark. I always will." And she disappears into the airlock.

Garak and Quark are left to contemplate their choices. They both did what they did out of love: Quark for Natima, and Garak for Cardassia. Quark says he doesn't understand. "That's the thing about love," Garak observes. "No one really understands it, do they?" The two lonely men leave the docking bay and go back to their lives.


  • The original title was "Here's Lookin' at You...".
  • The January 1994 Los Angeles earthquake took place at 4:31 am, during the second day of filming for this episode. Several actors who were having makeup put on (including Armin Shimerman) raced home in their cars to check on their loved ones, resulting in quite a few strange sights for fellow motorists. Due to damage on the set, it was two days before filming resumed.