They are irrevocably linked as two of the hottest singers on the planet, but Chris Brown and Rihanna aren't linked romantically, the pair insisted to MTV News at the Kids' Choice Awards on Saturday, denying persistent reports that they are a couple.
"I won't say that we're just friends — me and Chris are really best, best friends," Rihanna corrected, smiling. "We both started our careers around the same time. He is one of the only people in the industry ... I trust and hang out with all the time. We are best friends, honestly, like brother and sister. If he was a boyfriend, I would say that."
"They keep asking me, 'What's the deal?' " Brown echoed. "I'm like, 'There's no deal. No deal.' We're just friends."
They may be the fantasies of an overactive fanbase, but a Rihanna/Brown pairing wasn't imagined from thin air. The rumors started flying after a series of photographs surfaced that seem to show the pair canoodling.
The photos capture a moment in time, but they don't catch everything, the pair asserted.
"It's actually funny, because I know the truth when I see a picture, but when they write a note with it, it's so crazy because people read it — of course they say that about a picture," Rihanna said. "I always try to read things from a fan's perspective. It's so believable, I just give up."
"I think we've got the worst luck with pictures. I think that's the thing," Brown added.
Still, neither can deny that a relationship would please some of their more ardent admirers. Rihanna would do anything for her fans ... but she won't do that, the singer laughed.
"I want to make my fans happy, but I make my fans happy with my music, and that's what they know me for," she said. "When it comes to my personal life, I make those decisions for myself."
As for Brown, how does he keep his private life private? What advice does he have for people caught in the rumor machine?
"Be yourself," he grinned, "and see as many girls as possible!"