(CNN)Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello know their young devotees think they’re dating. And their MTV Video Music Awards performance was consummate fan service.

Let’s set the scene: The young pop titans were set to perform “Senorita,” their sultry summer duet. The Prudential Center was lit like the basement of a steamy club without air conditioning. Mendes and Cabello were bathed in the glow of a thousand phone flashlights. They watched each other sing with bated breath, as though they could hardly wait another second to finally lock lips.But kiss. They. Did. NOT. At least three to 20 times during the performance, the two sang maybe centimeters away from each other’s faces, only to pull away and deny fans the kiss they’ve waited for since the 2015 duet “I Know What You Did Last Summer.” It was cruel. Read MoreAfter about 3 minutes of twirling around each other, the twosome came back together for a final will-they-or-won’t-they moment. And it really seemed like it was about to be the one. The Canadian crooner pulled Cabello close. He ran his hand across her face. She felt his biceps. They lingered. Fans were panting. And then the song ended. Cabello nuzzled Mendes’ nose in a way someone might do to their dog, as if to say, “Good job, champ.” Whether or not their romance is legit, they were selling the fantasy.

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