I don't quite understand why you need a different approach to the same goal in your second snippet. I do think it's clever to have passed a count value for the first array as a way of dealing with the fact that Perl flattens lists, but references are built into the language, in part, to deal with that problem more conveniently. Passing a count is so... "C". ;)
However, if I were doing it, I would just use List::MoreUtils "zip" function (also known as mesh):
use List::MoreUtils qw( zip );
my @first = qw( can unlock secret );
my @second = qw( you the code? );
my @mixed = zip @first, @second;
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