Credit: Instagram

While the Dancing With the Stars 2013 competition is fierce, we never expected to see Derek Hough to take his need to win this far.

After a particularly grueling rehearsal, the blond pro Instagrammed the above picture of partner Kellie Pickler’s bruised legs, writing, “Why do I insist on beating my partners up? Sorry @kelliepickler.” What the what?

Have no fear, Derek fans — the Season 16 pair was just being playful. Though Kellie’s bruises are definitely real, she looked to be recovered in a later picture featuring her gorgeous white prom dress! And of course, she also replied to her partner with a silly threat, writing, “@derekhough I'm gonna let it slide this time but if it happens again you're getting Pickler punched (insert evil laugh & scary fist)!! Ha!”

Aww. We adore them. Considering that they’ve been in the Top 3 for the past two weeks, these bruises are likely well worth it. They’re pegged as one of the pairs who can win it all, and for good reason — they’ve impressed with intricate, jaw-dropping routines that clearly require intense rehearsing!

Do you think Kellie and Derek could take home the Mirror Ball trophy this year? Sound off below!