from the day he was born, he didn't think he'd be anything special.
it was fine, of course, because not everyone is destined for greatness. his parents are busy people, working to keep a household tidy, to keep food on the table, and money in the bank. they didn't spoil him, they didn't neglect him, in fact, they were fairly neutral on most matters. maybe that's why he's so apathetic now. (probably not, but he doesn't know the reason, so in some ways he blames his parents until he figures it out.)
while he hasn't felt special, he has always felt different. its the kind of thing that can't be explained, just feeling weird in your own skin sometimes. he's never been sure why, he's never been entirely sure--at least living back home--what it was. his parents were very strict about enforcing whatever strange roles they felt for him. they wanted him to do something in life that would make him comfortable while also financially stable. when he picked up volleyball as a hobby, they were proud their baby boy was getting into something more "manly" than admiring the fashion in his mother's posh magazines.
he realizes that his emotions tend to complicate things and, according to his father, strong emotions weren't befitting of an akaashi man. he remembers being five years old and crying at his skinned knee, his mother treating it for him, and his father's very stern, disapproving face. he remembers being told to shut up and stop crying, akaashi men do not cry. it wasn't an isolated event but it sticks in his mind as being the day that he realized he was apparently too much and the day he wanted to prove to his parents that he'd make them a good son. all tears shed from then on were done in private, where no one else could see him doing it. if they couldn't see it, then it wasn't happening.
his parents expected him to academically be the best. he wasn't, not always, because there was always someone better than him, but he tried his hardest. as he grew, his father grew more distant and hardened, and his mother grew to be much more of an enabler than he'd previously thought. when his father complained about something, she hopped to fix it right away. there was a constant power struggle between them wherein his mother rolled over and did what his father wanted. said power struggle bled onto him and, under his father's more domineering personality, he folded. what little emotions he'd been showing over the years basically dwindled to none; when he finally got to high school, people knew him to be almost entirely unfeeling.
however, just because he didn't show it, didn't mean he didn't feel it.
he wonders if people ever realize just how much damage they can do to a person with their disapproval. he chooses fukurodani because of its notoriety. he figures it'll be where his parents want him to go, even with their not-so-subtle hinting. he gets the "choice", but he doesn't really get to choose. such is generally the story of his life. while his parents never forced him one way or the other, they were very clear-cut in what they wanted him to do and what they wanted him to be. an athlete, his father says and his mother agrees with. but being a professional athlete doesn't really appeal. for him, playing the sport is about having fun. not everything has to be measured with money.
he learns everything about his teammates. he learns who likes what, who goes where, who has the strongest personality and who has the weakest. that's one thing he's always been very good at: reading people. while he, himself, is almost like a blank slate on any given day, the people around him are vibrant and colorful. he feels like a very drab bird in comparison to them all. suffice it to say, his self-esteem has never been lower. however, where he comes alive is on the volleyball court. its there that he shows the widest array of emotions that anyone's ever seen from him. its easy to tell that he has a passion for it, even if it may not be his ultimate calling.
when he was younger his parents taught him many things. his father taught him to be strong for others, not just for himself. his mother taught him not to seek other's attention and praise. they taught him to be humble and polite, to not boast or brag, but to be confident and self-assured. some of these things he is, most of them he is not. he is quick to be the one to cast a judgmental stare, he is quick to be blunt and speak just whatever is on his mind, whether or not it hurts those around him. he knows he is apathetic and there's nothing he can really do to change it. however, it is with his team that he realizes he, too, is just another kid. they all have their intricacies and he wants to figure them all out.
he doesn't know why bokuto latches onto him the way he does. they're so much the opposite; bokuto is loud and boisterous and almost overly-emotional. he's admired bokuto's strategy and his ability, maybe more so than any of the others. however, there's almost tension between them for many months until he learns that this is just bokuto. this is the way he will be and he has no right to judge him for them. the sooner he realizes that he can't judge other people the way his father judges him, the sooner he realizes that they're not just his teammates.
when he learns this, he learns all about his companions.
he is the setter of the team. he needs to know who to set the ball up for, needs to know their strengths and weaknesses like the back of his hand. he starts with bokuto. there is something so wildly enigmatic about him that he hates to think where this friendship is going. people often question just why they seem like the best of friends and he doesn't know how to answer that. opposites attract, that's what they say at least. frankly, he doesn't think anyone else could handle bokuto as well as he does. the way he seeks validation bothers him, and he never actually gives in unless he thinks that its something their ace truly needs. and, sometimes, he does.
he's seen bokuto go through wicked mood swings, something that drives him into full protective mode. he's seen that there's a strange, dark cloud in bokuto that mirrors his own and feels oddly comforted by it. not by his friend's depressive swings, but by the fact that he, too, is only human. somewhere along the way, he thinks he must have forgotten that they're all just human...even himself. when things don't go the way bokuto expects, he gets upset, and that's where he comes in. as the setter, and the one that knows them all better than maybe they know themselves, there's no one more suited to helping them all than him.
for once, he feels included, and for once, he actually feels special.