When Josh's agent had told him that he was going to be a guest on some British panel show about music while he was in London for the Royal Variety Show, Josh hadn't really thought much of it. He'd done T.V. appearances before, after all, and, funny accents aside, he doubted that British television was all that different from what he was used to. Famous last words, and all that.
Nothing could have prepared him for Never Mind the Buzzcocks.
The show hit the ground running, wit and vitriol going every which way, and Josh was left with no choice but to flounder along as best he could. Afterwards, once the cameras had been shut off and the audience had been told to go the hell home, Josh slumped back in his chair with a pleased but faintly incredulous huff. He actually thought he held his own pretty well, despite the fact that being a smart ass was apparently a spectator sport in England.
He felt like he'd just run a marathon. With his brain.
Omid, their team captain, heaved himself out of his chair and gave Josh a hearty clap on the shoulder. "Well done, my American friend," he said, with an easy smile.
"Thanks, you too," Josh said, meaning it.
Omid carried on past him and Josh figured that it was about his turn to get moving. If nothing else, there were probably a few faithful fans hoping to see him on his way out and he didn't want to disappoint them. Before he could get to his feet, however, Simon hopped onto the desk, smiling at him in a decidedly unsettling way.
"Um?" Josh said.
"You're surprisingly likeable, Josh Groban," Simon said, in the same earnest deadpan that had had Josh fighting not to crack up all night.
It still made Josh grin now, even though he was never quite sure if that was the appropriate response to half the stuff Simon said. "Thank you?"
There was a laugh behind him and Josh twisted around to see Martin standing nearby, grinning openly at the pair of them. "It's definitely a compliment," he told Josh. "Simon was all set to dislike you for being American and you spoiled his fun. Right, Simon?"
"Not at all," Simon protested. "I'm perfectly capable of disliking people for themselves. You, for example, have got a rather funny face."
Martin laughed again. "Ta. Good game by the way, Josh," he said then. "It's been a pleasure winning with you."
"You too." Josh hesitated for a second before adding, "Even if you don't know Don't Look Back into the Sun."
"Ah, but if I did, we'd never have got to hear the reggae version," Martin pointed out, openly amused. "So clearly, I did us all a favour."
"Clearly," Josh agreed.
"How are you enjoying London so far?" Martin said then.
"It's been great," Josh said. "Really, really great. Done all the clichéd 'American in London' touristy stuff and bought a whole ton of souvenirs that nobody needs."
"That's the whole point of souvenirs, I think," Martin said.
"Yeah, probably. Everyone's been really nice, too."
Simon sniffed. "Clearly, you've been going to the wrong parts of London. It's usually quite miserable."
"Good thing you came here to balance out the experience," Martin added.
Josh laughed. "Guess so, yeah. I had no idea that this show was going to be so much fun. They'd never get a show like this on the air back home."
"Too high-brow?" Simon asked, kicking his legs absently. Josh edged his chair out of the way.
"Exactly," he said, still grinning. "It's nice to get to do something without worrying if you're being too off-colour."
Martin grinned a lot, Josh was noticing. "With Simon at the helm, usually you need to worry about being not off-colour enough."
"You're welcome," Simon said.
"No, seriously. The next time I come to England, I'd love to do the Buzzcocks again."
Simon made a noncommittal noise. "Really? I'm not sure you're a good fit."
"He's right," Martin said. "They try to avoid picking people with actual talent."
Simon aimed an absent kick at Martin that was more a spastic twitch of his knee than anything else. "None of your nay saying, Martin. I just don't think that enough middle aged women watch this show to make it worth our effort to have Josh on again."
Martin tilted his head. "Out of curiosity, who do you think actually does watch this show?"
"Prison inmates, mostly. And my parents."
"I could expand your viewership," Josh said. "Give all those middle aged British ladies a reason to watch."
Simon's mouth twisted into a little moue of distaste. "None of that. If we wanted those people, we could go be QI instead."
Josh turned a puzzled look on Martin.
"I'll explain later," Martin promised.
"Cheers," Josh tried, the foreign slang sitting awkwardly in his brain, and got an indulgently approving smile from Martin in response. He turned back to Simon, only to find the man beaming at the two of them like a proud parent.
Martin sighed heavily. "Alright, Simon, out with it."
"Oh nothing," Simon said, in a tone of voice that meant anything but. "I was just thinking that you and Josh would make a lovely couple, even if he is American." He cocked his head and asked, liltingly, "Have either of you considered trying out cock?"
Josh just about choked on his tongue.
Martin pinched the bridge of his nose with a sigh. "We're definitely too high-brow for American telly."
Simon shrugged. "It's not my fault you're so similar. You're lucky I didn't start calling you by each other's names partway through." He paused thoughtfully. "Or some inappropriate portmanteau of the both like 'Mash'."
"How about 'Join'?" Josh offered.
"Sounds too much like John," Simon said, without missing a beat. God, but he was quick. "And then everyone would be getting mixed up."
"We wouldn't want that," Josh managed, determined to keep up. "Giving us a pet name might have made the other team jealous, anyway."
"I've always enjoyed blatant favouritism. What do you think, Martin? Mash or Join?"
"I think you lost me at about the point where you said Josh and I are hard to tell apart," Martin said. "Because really, between the three of us, it's not the two of us who look alike."
Simon looked affronted. "Of course you do. You're both all smiley and you've got that," a flailing arm in their general direction, "scruffy beardy thing going on. And I'm sure you own at least one jumper that looks like Josh's. You seem like a jumper kind of chap."
"Leaving my wardrobe aside for the moment, have you noticed that I'm the only one here who's both blond and rather more substantial than a piece of spaghetti?"
"I don't believe in stereotyping," Simon said.
Martin snorted. "Of course you do."
"Okay, yes I do." Simon pursed his lips thoughtfully. "Which I suppose means that we're the gay threesome version of Ab Fab."
"I really, genuinely want to see you pitch that to the BBC."
"Which means that you should probably try the scruff look as well," Josh said to Simon. "So we match. And then you can appeal to all those middle aged women who are going to start watching your show."
"No, no scruff for me. I'm not down with the beat like you cool kids."
Martin rolled his eyes. "Correct me if I'm wrong, Simon, but I'm fairly certain I'm a good bit older than you."
Simon drew himself up, easing out of his slouch until he fairly towered over both of them. "I may have the body of a 29 year old, but I have the spirit of a crotchety old bugger in his dotage."
"Well that part's true at least." Martin glanced at his watch and then at Josh. "It's still early yet. You have any plans for the evening?"
Josh shrugged. "Watching T.V. in my hotel room, mostly."
"Well that's a rubbish way to experience London. Come on, we'll go round to the pub for a pint. I'll go grab Phil before he buggers off; he's always good for a drink." Martin turned to look at an expectant-faced Simon. "What about you, Simon? Do you even remember what a pint is?"
"I think it's that thing where you open your mouth and liquid goes in," Simon said. He cocked his head thoughtfully. "Although I might be getting it confused with blowjobs again."
"Oh, is that how you convinced the BBC to let you host a quiz show?" Josh asked and felt a little glow of satisfaction when it made Martin laugh.
"Knowing him, it's always possible. What do you say, Simon? You coming along?"
"Oh, alright," Simon sighed. "But I refuse to enjoy myself."
"Fair enough." Martin turned that disarming smile on Josh again. "So I'd wager that you've got some excited-"
"Groba-bitches!" Simon chimed in.
"Grobanites," Josh corrected.
"-fans," Martin said over both of them, "screaming your name outside, so I'll leave you to deal with that and we'll sort ourselves out afterwards."
Josh nodded. "Sounds good."
"Brilliant. Don't traumatize him too much while I'm gone, Simon."
Simon waved a dismissive hand. "Pish. I'll leave that for when he's drunk."
Josh laughed, even though he absolutely wouldn't put that past Simon. "You sure know how to make a guy feel welcome."
"Imagine if he didn't like you," Martin said. He threw Josh a wink. "See you in a mo."
"Come along, Josh Groban," Simon said, once Martin had gone. He hopped off the table with a vaguely awkward pin wheeling of arms and turned an imperious look on Josh. "Let's go delight your adoring public."
"Right behind you, Simon," Josh said, still apparently unable to stop grinning. If he'd known that England could be like this, he'd have pushed for getting international acclaim years ago.