Jake Sisko is standing on the upper level of the promenade watching passengers disembark a transport and trying to come up with character ideas based on what he sees. An alien female comes out of the airlock and catches the eye of Jake before walking away. Odo walks into his office to find Lwaxana Troi crying because she's pregnant with a male child and her husband, Jeyal, is a Tavnian. The problem, as Odo finds out, is that Tavnian children are raised by the parent that is the same sex as the child, never to be seen by the other gender until reaching the age of sixteen. Lwaxana wants to be a part of her child's life, and Jeyal said that would be possible, but apparently he changed his mind when he found out she was pregnant with a boy. Lwaxana has come to Odo for help, but Odo is reluctant.
Later, in the replimat, Jake is working on a story when the alien woman he saw coming out of the airlock sits down next to him and starts talking. Her name is Onaya and it turns out she has a thing for artists. Onaya talks about how she knew Tavor Kell, a famous Cardassian architect and how she helped him to "stop censoring himself". This grabbed Jake's interest. She reveals to Jake that she can teach him exercises to help bring out his creativity and help him be remembered as an artist; Jake is intrigued as he seems to have a case of writer's block and hesitantly admits that he wants to be remembered. They agree to meet later. Back in his quarters, Jake is working on a story when his father, Benjamin Sisko, shows up asking if he's packed for the trip he has planned with his father and Kasidy to the Bajoran outback. Jake says he doesn't want to go because he really needs to focus on this story, and his father understands–although his father doesn't know about Onaya.
In Quark's, Lwaxana is depressed and is telling Worf, Dax, and Kira how she feels like a prisoner in her own home. Being a telepath, Lwaxana's mood seems to be affecting the moods of all those around her. Quark asks Odo to get rid of her, and Odo abides, taking her on a walk. When the two arrive at Odo's quarters, Lwaxana tells Odo her food replicator is broken and asks if she can come in and use his. Odo agrees, but finds out it was just an excuse for her to spend more time with him. Exhausted, Lwaxana sits down on Odo's floor (since he doesn't have any furniture) and falls asleep in Odo's arms. Odo graciously transforms one of his arms into a blanket and the other into a pillow–he doesn't seem to mind the situation at all.
Jake arrives at Onaya's quarters, where he feels a little uncomfortable. Onaya assures him there is nothing to worry about–he's there to work. Onaya gives Jake the pen of a famous writer, and tells Jake to start writing–on paper. Jake says he's never used paper before, but Onaya tells him to write the first line, and then urges him to just keep writing. Onaya starts to bring out Jake's creativity while simultaneously draining his life little by little.
The next morning, Lwaxana and Odo are playing a game of hide and seek. Odo takes on the shape of an object in the room, and Lwaxana tries to guess what or where he is. Their fun is cut short when Odo is informed that Jeyal, Lwaxana's husband, has arrived on the station. Odo has Jeyal brought to his security office where he informs him that Lwaxana has no intentions of giving up her child to him. Odo then reveals a loophole in Tavnian law which states the male child is the property of the mother's husband and not the child's father. When Lwaxana has her baby, Jeyal will no longer be her husband because Odo plans to marry Lwaxana in a legal Tavnian ceremony. This will end her marriage to Jeyal and allow her to keep the baby. Odo and Lwaxana will remain married for a few months to satisfy Tavnian law and then get a divorce.
Jake is still busy writing his latest story, and Onaya is still slowly drawing out his creativity and draining his life. Jake comments that he can hardly keep up with the flood of ideas he's having. Suddenly, Jake has a minor nose bleed. Onaya tells Jake he should rest, but Jake is too determined to stop now and keeps on writing.
Odo arranges a surprise wedding with Lwaxana where he must convince Jeyal and all those present that his love for Lwaxana is true. Otherwise, someone can challenge the validity of the marriage if they doubt the groom's sincerity–and Jeyal will be one tough critic. The ceremony proceeds, and Odo delivers his speech which sounds superficial. Jeyal calls it a pale declaration of love, but Odo becomes more genuine and talks of how Lwaxana accepted him for who he was and how that changed him. Jeyal accepts the ceremony, and Odo and Lwaxana are married according to Tavnian law. The child is safe.
Jake is still writing and appears very tired. Onaya again tells Jake he needs to stop, but he refuses. Onaya forces Jake to stop by taking his pen and tells Jake his writing will be even better if he is well rested. Jake agrees and starts to head home, but decides to stop at the replimat for a drink. He orders an orange juice, but collapses before he can sit down. In the infirmary, Dr. Bashir informs Sisko, who is back from his trip, that Jake's brain has been stimulated and his cerebral cortex was on the verge of synaptic collapse. Dr. Bashir assures Sisko that Jake will be all right, but he needs to remain in a neural stabilization field for a while. Jake regains consciousness just long enough to say, "Onaya, where is she?" and Sisko begins looking for Onaya. During the night, Onaya materializes from an energy cloud in the infirmary and knocks out the nurse on duty. She wakes Jake up and tells him it's time to finish what he started and takes him to a jefferies tube junction near the reactor core. Jake is again determined to keep writing and gets another nose bleed while Onaya drains his life more quickly. O'Brien scans the infirmary and finds traces of psionic energy and informs Odo to tell his search teams to modify their tricorders to search for psionic energy. Dr. Bashir tells him they need to hurry because psionic residue decays within minutes. Sisko picks up a psionic energy trace and finds Onaya and Jake. Sisko, armed with a phaser, tells Onaya to get away from Jake and asks what she is. Onaya reveals that she unlocks the potential of artists and, in the process, kills them but gives them immortality through their art. The energy and life she drains from her victims helps her survive. Onaya turns into an energy cloud and flies off into space.
Back in the security office, Lwaxana informs Odo that she's going back to Betazed and that she's imposed on Odo long enough. Odo tries to convince her to stay, but she's afraid Odo would come to resent her with time if she stayed because of their differing feelings for each other. Lwaxana leaves the station so the two can remain friends. Later, after Jake has recovered, Sisko reads his story and tells him he has a good start on a novel, which he has titled Anslem, but the spelling is terrible. Jake agrees, but doesn't feel it's really his work. Sisko reminds him that they were his words–Onaya just helped bring them out.