For once, can't the smoke just clear up and reveal absolutely nothing in its place?
Instead, once again, there was a fire.
Josh Duhamel and Fergie revealed Thursday that they separated "earlier this year" and had intentionally kept it private for as long as possible to sort out what was best for their 4-year-old son, Axle. Duhamel had lasted posted a photo of the two of them together on Instagram on July 19.
But now that Fergie's in the middle of a press tour in support of the Sept. 22 release of Double Dutchess, her first new solo album in 11 years, perhaps it was time to face the music.
And to illustrate just how much of a U-turn these marital stories can take overnight, the most recent rumor they faced had to do with expanding the family, as opposed to moving the family into separate houses.
"I have no idea what's in the future," Fergie said on Cubby and Carolina in the Morning less than a week ago. "Right now, I just turned all my videos in yesterday to everybody. It's like I'm birthing a different kind of baby. I feel like I'm birthing this thing out. It didn't come from my belly but it came from my soul."
She also answered the inevitable question about how she and Josh kept their marriage fresh after all these years, saying, "I have an Axl-safe costume closet where I have all my superhero stuff. That one doesn't have a combination. I do have one that's locked that's a little bit more mature."
So in the moment at least, all seemed status quo on the sexy front.
But sadly, Fergie and Duhamel, who met in 2004, got engaged in 2007 and tied the knot on Jan. 10, 2009, through no particular fault of their own have been one of those famous couples who always seemed to be running on borrowed time. Not in it for the long haul, despite their giddy early days. And yet their only-in-Hollywood meet-cute had strong legs.
She was Duhamel's dream girl after all.
The Win a Date With Tad Hamilton hunk had had an actual dream about the Black Eyed Peas singer before he ever saw her in the flesh, walking onto the set of his NBC drama Las Vegas.
"You're hot" was all Duhamel could muster at first.
"It sounds corny when you say it, but I think she knew I was sort of saying it tongue-in-cheek because she had already known that I had a little bit of a crush on her while she was there and it was sort of a way of saying something she already knew," Duhamel told E! News in 2014.
Indeed she did. And it apparently wasn't just a happy coincidence that brought her to Las Vegas that day. Fergie said in a 2007 interview with Playboy that she sought out her future fiancé on purpose because...well, word gets around.
"I had read in a magazine that he'd had a naughty dream about me," she said. "All my friends knew about him because he had been a soap opera star. I'm not into soap operas, but they told me, 'You gotta go out with him. Do it for the group. Take one for the team.'" She continued, "Time went by, and I saw on the schedule that we were taping a show called Las Vegas and I thought, 'Is that the show he's on?' We met, and I said, 'I read you had a dream about me.' He said, 'Yeah', and I asked, 'Was it good?' He said it was. So we pretty much hit it off straight away."
Duhamel concurred. Just as he was kicking himself for his lame intro, he told Best Life in 2007, "an interesting thing happened. She replied, 'Yeah, I read InStyle. So...how was I in your dream?"
(For the record, Duhamel told InStyle: "My recurring dream involves the lead singer of The Black Eyed Peas. Oh, my god, I've got the biggest crush on her! God, she is hot!")
"She's a real total star," he continued. "I'm more subdued than that. I'd rather sneak up on people. But that's what makes us work. We have similar fundamental values. We both grew up in similar families. She's just got a great soul."
They married in a religious ceremony at Church Estates Vineyards in Malibu, surrounded by family and a slew of celebrity friends, including Kate Hudson, Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O'Connell, Mario Lopez, Stacy Keibler, Kid Rock, Slash, Will.i.am, James Caan, Molly Sims and Vanessa Marcil.
"We grew up in very similar ways, you know?" Duhamel later told Oprah Winfrey. "My mother was a teacher. Both of her parents were teachers. We both had to work for what we got. We're both Catholic. There were a lot of things that were really compatible between us. But at the end of the day, she's just an amazing girl."
"He just wanted to get into my pants," Fergie cracked to Allure in 2015. On a more serious note, she recalled, "We just grew. And we grew into realizing that we wanted the same things in life. We wanted the same path. We both come from Catholic families."
And apparently the two of them shared an appreciation for cosplay from day one, too.
"He just dances for me in private, in some very interesting outfits," Fergie also revealed to Playboy. "He bought me these amazing boots at the Hustler store. They're thigh-high patent leather with a big long zipper. They're hard to get on, but it's worth it."
But despite the hot-'n'-heavy nature of their relationship, theirs wasn't an entirely uneventful courtship, in a bad way.
In 2009, the National Enquirer reported that Duhamel had a fling with an Atlanta stripper while he was in town filming Life as We Know It with Katherine Heigl—and the dancer herself, Nicole Forrester, insisted it was a true story.
The actor did admit to visiting a strip club, but Duhamel's rep unequivocally denied anything untoward happened on multiple occasions. Forrester apologized to Fergie via an Extra interview, saying she wished she hadn't blabbed, not having thought ahead of time how her actions would affect other people.
"When you go through difficult times, it really makes you stronger as a unit, as a partnership," Fergie told Winfrey. "It does for us, anyway. Our love today is a deeper love. We're stronger today definitely because of anything difficult that's happened with us. We deal with it, we communicate. Communicating's the most important thing."
Duhamel added, "I'm actually happy that all that happened, because we wouldn't be as strong as we are now. As much anger as I carried about it before, I'm actually thankful that it did happen, because in a lot of ways, it made me straighten my ass out."
Even when they seemed to be at the height of their happiness, in hindsight another bite from the interview stands out, too.
Asked when they planned to have kids, Fergie said that she had talked Duhamel down from wanting to have five. "We negotiated that early on," she said. "Two is our number." They welcomed Axl in August 2013 and Duhamel quickly established himself as one of Hollywood's most doting dads.
As it turned out, however, one was Fergie's number, at least for now. Sources tell E! News that the conflict over priorities persisted, and ultimately that wore on their relationship. "I felt that it was either going to be another baby or an album," Fergie told Allure in 2015. We now know she was readier for another album.
"It caught up with them," one insider told us. "It just became very clear that they are not no the same page and don't see things the same way."
Duhamel had been hoping to give Axl a little sibling for awhile, telling Access Hollywood in 2015, "I'd love to [have another baby], hopefully in the next year or two."
Asked if he had any preference, boy or girl, he laughed and said that having three younger sisters "taught me that I would be really happy to have another son." But of course, "girls are great. I would be totally happy to have a girl, but... they get to those teenage years, that independence isn't always easy, you know? Especially for the mother."
Still, married life seemed to be going along swimmingly. "I would say it's working because we have a lot of fun," Duhamel said. "I genuinely like her! She likes me, you know? I'm nobody to give advice on relationships, but for whatever reason, we just really like each other."
Couples counseling helped as well.
Fergie also told Allure at the time that they were in therapy together. "He doesn't feel like he's not man enough," she said admiringly of her husband. He's "not afraid."
And while Duhamel gets a lot of the "Axl's daddy" attention because, well, hot actor + adorable baby = Instagram heaven, he has sung Fergie's praises as a mom too—including recently, when now we know their marriage was on shaky ground. (Us Weekly reports that Duhamel moved out in early spring.)
"The thing that really amazes me about her is her incredible patience and absolute dedication and love for him," Duhamel told AOL.com shortly before Mother's Day this year while out promoting Transformers: The Last Knight. "She puts him above anything else."
But is the next thing he said another clue?
"For a girl, which everything has always been about her, to see what the love of a child can do is pretty amazing," he added. "She would do anything or that kid. She's an amazing mom." (Someone could pluck a backhanded compliment out of that observation.)
But really there's no quibbling with his admiration for his wife's parenting skills. "I think she gets it from her own mom because she [Fergie's mom] was a speech therapist for kids with speech impediments," Duhamel continued. "To see her mom teach him [Axl], then to see Fergie do the same thing and then have him learn it and become a really, really good speaker for his age...That to me is incredible."
And that, ultimately, is what will matter moving forward. The two couldn't be more committed to doing what's best for Axl, with a source telling E! News, "They have a lot of love for each other and for each other's families, and there's no bad blood." Another source said, "Fergie still has the most respect for Josh and they will continue to have a healthy relationship while co-parenting."
In the May/June 2017 issue of Haute Living, Duhamel stuck to the same script as to why he and Fergie worked as a couple.
"We genuinely like each other and have a lot of love for our son, and have a good time together. And that's about it."
Indeed it may have been.