Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Meryl Davis won "Dancing With the Stars" on Monday, but their victory tour feels like one of the longest ever -- perhaps because rumors that the couple are really a couple have been fueling interest.
Are they or are they not dating? The pair's sexy, emotionally powerful dance performances convinced many in the audience that the pro dancer and the Olympic ice-dancing champ were in fact an item.
The spotlight on them has also been bright because this was the first season won by Chmerkovskiy, a seasoned "DWTS" performer and bad-boy audience favorite.
After a bit of back-and-forth (apparently the mirror ball trophies are quite heavy), Wendy Williams cut to the chase when the winners appeared on her Thursday show.
"Are you guys smushing?," she asked.
"I really have no idea what that means," a somewhat bewildered Chmerkovskiy replied, apparently never having watched "Jersey Shore."
"Are you having sex?," Williams clarified. "Are you all boyfriend and girlfriend, or lovers or anything?"
With Chmerkovskiy looking at her, Davis jumped in with the answer: "We're not dating."
Well then, Williams wondered, was she dating anyone at all?
"We like to keep the personal lives personal," Davis replied.
(Williams, a "DWTS" alum who lasted two weeks in Season 12, recently accused the show of scripting what contestants say to the camera. So maybe she knows more than most about reality TV's illusions?)
But answers as straightforward as Davis' "We're not dating" don't mean relationship fans will believe what they're told. It's hard to give up on love entirely when shreds of hope are pulled from quotes like the one from a People source regarding the twosome's Thursday night celebration at New York City's Tao Downtown. (Dancers Val Chmerkovskiy, Tony Dovolani and Jenna Johnson were also there.)
"He was pretty touchy-feely with her, but if you know Maks he's touchy-feely with a lot of people," said the witness, who observed Chmerkovskiy with his hand around Davis' waist and delivering kisses on her forehead.
"Are they a couple? It's hard to say."
It was easier to say for an E! News source, however.
"In truth, there is no romance there," the source said. "They're good friends, but nothing more. The hype about it has been fun, but it's not real."