'Law & Order: SVU': Benson and Stabler Get up Close and Personal in New Teaser

Law & Order: SVU fans may finally get their long-awaited romance. The show's latest teaser has fans giddy over a moment that appears to show Mariska Hargitay's Capt. Olivia Benson cradle Christopher Meloni's Detective Elliot Stabler's face like she's about to kiss him. The possible embrace is in the promotional video for the Jan. 26 episode of SVU, "Blood Out," aired after the Jan. 12 episode. Since the scene was shown, fans have wondered if there will really be a romantic relationship after 20+ years or if it's another fake-out attempt to get fans excited. 

Since the 1990s, Benson and Stabler have been experiencing slow but steady romantic tension. There have been more hints about their relationship in both the current seasons of SVU, which stars Hargitay and Law & Order: Organized Crime, which stars Meloni. On the midseason finale of SVU, a drunk Benson revealed to Detective Amanda Rollins (Kelli Giddish) that Stabler was her "home." She agrees with Rollins that Stabler's deceased wife, who was killed in the bombing during Stabler's return SVU episode, "Return of the Prodigal Son," was the "boundary" preventing their relationship. "With her gone it's like there's nothing but possibility, which is paralyzing," Benson says. 

On Organized Crime, Stabler confessed drunkenly to Italian cop and former acquaintance Tia Leonetti (Ayelet Zurer) earlier this season. Stabler wakes up on his couch after Leonetti visits for a late night of boozing at his apartment and learns he has revealed the truth to her. "You said there's a woman you're in love with," Leonetti says. "I did?" Stabler responds. During a recent episode, Stabler speaks about his rocky relationship with Benson during a visit to a therapist. "I recently lost a friend, a very close friend, partner," he says. "Through neglect on my part. Fear, selfishness." "Sounds like you're a man in need of a new beginning," the therapist replies. During a recent interview with Today, Hargitay explained how Benson's feelings for Stabler go beyond their partnership.

"Olivia being the product of a rape and raised by a single mother, hasn't had a lot of stability in her life in terms of a male figure," she said. "And Elliot Stabler was the first person that really came in her life, that really had her back, whose focus was to protect her. There was such a deep safety in that — knowing that these two people keeping each other safe and keeping each other alive was the most important thing that gave her such a confidence and a stability that she never had." Hargitay added, "So I think that spending that much time with somebody, but then knowing that it could never be... but, the chemistry has been undeniable, and has been a complicated factor in their relationship." 

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Also, speaking to Today, Meloni was asked when Stabler realized he loved Benson. "I think he's in the middle of realizing," he answered. "Yeah, I think it's more difficult for him. I think he's carrying a lot of stuff." Will Stabler finally come to terms with his feelings? Find out when Law & Order: Special Victims Unit airs Thursday, Jan. 26, at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.