The first time Go gets a mixtape, it's from Ken. He's sixteen and being 'properly educated' on the importance of the American rap scene, courtesy of one widely grinning Miyake Ken. Go thinks Ken is being ridiculous, on the one hand, because neither of them speak English well enough to understand anything on the first try (or even the second and third tries), but on the other hand he still dutifully puts it in his Walkman and learns the rhythm and beats as he bikes to school. There are worse things to be doing, he figures. It's like studying, only more fun. When he tells Ken he likes it, Ken's smirk is only halfway sarcastic. The rest of it looks and sounds a lot like 'thank god', and Go pats Ken's arm distractedly as he fiddles with the rewind button.
The second time Go gets a mixtape, it's from Okada six months after their debut, and Go slips it to Tsuyoshi after a single song. "My brother broke it," he tells Okada, knowing from the sharp eyes burning lasers into his face that Okada doesn't believe it for a second, but then Tsuyoshi thanks Go so honestly for the mixtape it embarrasses them both, and Okada looks dimly pleased with himself. "Hey, at least somebody enjoyed it, right," Go says, which doesn't go over well. He always forgets that despite Okada's remarkably diminutive size and generally off-beat sense of humor, there's a full-bred Osaka tsukkomi under Okada's curly mop of bangs, and he ends up with a bruise on his forearm, which Go claims is the closest place Okada can reach (that earns him another punch, but gives him a remarkable momentary feeling of victory when Okada's face screws up into a scowl).
"Ken, Okada's abusing me," Go grumbles, hours later, and winces when Ken flicks the bruise without missing a beat in his no doubt riveting story about his battle in the grocery store for potatoes.
"I'm sure whatever you did, you deserved it," Ken says, and reaches out to muss Go's bangs in something like comfort. Go grunts, batting Ken's hand away, and settles back into the squashed cushions of the green dormitory common room couch, pushing his hands into the front pocket of his sweatshirt to fish out his headphones. Ken spares a glance when Go fits them over his ears and flicks the play button down, but Go closes his eyes and ignores him until he passes into a doze.
He only knows how much time has passed when the tape whirrs into silence, and he stirs at the sudden lack of sound, reflexively hitting rewind. The room has been darkened--the clock above the television is saying something like 4AM, so that makes sense--and the dorms are mostly quiet. Go's about to stumble from the couch to his bed for a few more hours of sleep, but then the tell-tale snuffling noise of Ken's snoring echoes through Go's right ear, and he turns to see Ken curled around the other arm of the couch, one leg up over it and dangling off the couch and one arm wrapped firmly around one of the grody brown throw pillows.
"Oi," Go says, "hey. Ken!" No movement. Go considers shaking him, but then remembers the flick to his bicep and pokes him in the side, instead. Ken jerks awake, mumbling something mostly unintelligible about Nagano-kun and an apron, and blinks slow at Go.
"Yo," Ken says, and yawns as he glares blearily at the clock. "Shit, 's that late?"
"Yeah, it's that late," Go says, keeping his voice low, "why didn't you just go to bed?"
Ken's brain only works at half-speed when he's just woken up; Go can basically see the gears moving as Ken worries at his lower lip in thought. "I wanted to hear you rap along some more, but then I got tired so I fell asleep," Ken admits, "you're getting pretty good, aren't you?"
Go flushes, abruptly self-conscious; he always forgets to keep his voice down when he wants to sing along. It's embarrassing to hear people complimenting his Digital Underground impression, but it's Ken, his mind says, and his mind is right about that, at least; Go shrugs. "Well, I'm done now," he says, rough but fond, and shambles up before hauling Ken after him.
The first time Go makes a mixtape, it's for Aya-chan, and she emails him two hours later to tell him she loves it, a pretty text message filled with girlish kaomoji and exclamation points that somehow manage not to ring false because it's Aya. Ken and Okada mock him for glowing about it for days afterward, complete with Okada and Ken roleplaying as Aya and Go, respectively, in the middle of their dressing room (much to the amusement of the older three). Go gets them back by snapping a picture of them in mid-roleplay and letting them hear Aya's overly flowery, highly complimentary voicemail response; Okada seems largely unaffected at first, but then Aya starts in on how cute he would look in a skirt, and he colors so brightly Ken turns on him. Go throws in, of course, and once again things have shifted between them. Go touches his elbow to Ken's, and they share matching grins before they turn back on a groaning Okada.
Aya makes him a mixtape (which isn't really a mixtape because it's a playlist on his iPhone but she names it 'a mixtape for go-kun' so he guesses it counts) an hour before they break up, which is Go's only hint that it's even coming. It's a beautiful playlist, but none of it is either of their styles. It's all pretty ballads with sad lyrics, and the whole thing makes Ken mad when he does his weekly 'steal Go's phone and listen to his embarrassing most-played songs'. "Dude, these are all girly-ass lost love songs, what the hell," he complains, fast-forwarding with merciless taps to the touch screen, "it sucks. Tell her do something fast next time!"
"I don't think there's gonna be a 'next time'," Go says, and then stops breathing because that's the first time he's admitted it to someone in the agency aloud. Ken's eyes are as wide as saucers, following every twitch of Go's body as he fiddles with the zipper on his hoodie and rakes his fingers through his hair. When Go looks up from staring pointedly at his hands, Ken has moved from the plush leather across the floor of his living room to sit down next to Go's left hip.
Ken doesn't say anything, just offers Go one of the earbuds, and hits play on the mixtape's first song again. Go snorts, and pushes it inside his ear canal, stretching his legs out and curling his hands in the material at the front of his sweatshirt. If his shoulders shake around track 6, well, Ken pretends not to notice anything.
The first time Go makes a mixtape for Ken, V6 is hitting their 17th anniversary as a band, and the six of them are gathering around a small table in a family restaurant in nowheresville to celebrate their careers (and to throw a small members-only celebration for Okada's birthday a few weeks early, because if they didn't manipulate him out he would just disappear into thin air and never let them catch him outside of work). Go and Ken have given Okada their yearly joke gift of the swimsuit edition of Playboy and, in a less inflammatory way, a set of wood-painting tools, and the older members have worked their way much farther into their cups by the time Okada has finished flipping through the magazine with a practiced eye.
"There were actually a couple of good pictures in here," Okada says, finally, which is the most praise he's given them in years. Go and Ken flash each other, then Sakamoto, Nagano and Inocchi in turn thumbs up. Sakamoto is much drunker than his refined expression would say, and returns it with vigor. Nagano is similarly enthusiastic, but Inocchi takes five minutes trying to focus his eyes long enough to figure out what anyone was even doing, complete with drunken giggles. (Which, with Inocchi, aren't too far off from regular giggles, but Go figures he has no room to talk.)
They pile Okada into a cab with Tonisen an hour later, and Go lets Ken lean on him as they move down the block to the train station. "Aren't you glad I didn't let you drink that much?" Go asks, finally, and laughs when Ken tries to simultaneously glare at him and walk and winds up nearly falling flat on his face.
"Shut up," Ken says.
"I love you, too," Go answers, and then reaches into his bag to start rooting around for the CD. "Oi, give me your murse," Go says, chucking his chin at the leather bag over Ken's shoulder.
"It's not a murse, it's a tote," Ken protests.
"Dude, the fact that you even said that is humiliating. It's a murse--no shame in it! Now give, I've got a present."
"Unless it's more beer, I don't want it."
"Too bad. Just..." Go trails off as they approach the train turnstiles, and then picks back up when they settle together on a bench to wait. "Just listen to it later, okay? When you're sober?"
"Yeah, okay, fine," Ken mumbles, half-asleep already against Go's shoulder.
"Get off," Go says, trying to work up the urge to shrug Ken away and not quite succeeding.
He hopes the train is running a little late.