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Fan alert! Chris Meloni is open to 'Law & Order: SVU' return

If there's a holy grail for "Law & Order: SVU" fans, it's seeing Det. Elliot Stabler and Lieutenant Olivia Benson together again, at least once, before the show ends.

On Tuesday, Christopher Meloni, who played Stabler for 12 seasons, offered up a fresh, shiny hope: He's interested in coming back!

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(Then) Detective Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Det. Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) were one of TV's super duos on "Law & Order: SVU."

Of course, there are caveats.

"I have always said I would be open to it," Meloni told "Entertainment Tonight" at the NRDC "Stand Up! for the Planet" benefit in Los Angeles. "[The] circumstances have to be right, that is all."

RELATED: Mariska Hargitay, Chris Meloni are each other's Valentines in sweet new reunion photo

Stabler and Benson (played since the show's 1999 inception by Mariska Hargitay) were work partners in the Special Victims Unit for years, always sparking on each other but never evolving into a relationship (for one thing, he was married with kids). No matter: audiences felt they were the perfect on-screen couple anyway, and when Meloni departed there was widespread mourning.

Fortunately, Meloni and Hargitay are good friends in real life and often post selfies (allowing all of us to pretend that the detectives are still working together in some other universe). And as Meloni noted, they're well aware of how delighted fans are by those images.

"We don't live under a rock," he said. "We do [selfies] one time and suddenly, you know, she called and she is like, 'Do you believe what just happened?' Now we do it just to see the reaction."

Good times

A post shared by Mariska Hargitay (@therealmariskahargitay) on

Friends at Xmas.

A post shared by Chris Meloni (@chris_meloni) on

As for when he might return, sadly there is nothing in the immediate works. "We will see [if I return for the series finale]," he said. "It has never been brought up to me, so that is the kind of question that's kind of out of my hands."

RELATED: Christopher Meloni is 'going retro with my career'

Still, he loves knowing that Benson and Stabler remain in people's hearts.

And then that happened... Just when I thought Valentine's Day was over.

A post shared by Mariska Hargitay (@therealmariskahargitay) on

"It is lovely [to still see the fan support]," he admitted. "I always kind of felt it and knew it. I knew how important it was to people, how much it meant to people. Twelve years with your partner in crime is a long time."

But not long enough!

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