Aaron Stefflin is a character in the Ferris Access Channel and Dozerfleet Studios original miniseries Blood Over Water, part of The Gerosha Chronicles in Dozerfleet Comics. He was, along with his twin brother Mark, portrayed by actor Zach Foster. He returns for the novel remake.
Aaron is initially depicted as being the "younger" twin, constantly teased by Mark for being sloppy, disorganized, and frequently late. The two are able to maintain a high spirit with each other even amidst each other's put-downs, and they arrange to go fishing. Mark warns Aaron that he needs to check some levels in a pond somewhere, and does not elaborate beyond that. When Mark doesn't return a phone call the following morning, Aaron immediately suspects foul play and heads straight to Mark's apartment.
Aaron discovers the apartment ransacked, and discovers a "Confidential"-marked envelope hidden behind the mini-fridge in Mark's bedroom. He decides it must be important, and takes it home. Inside are redacted files which Mark intended to use to expose the corruption at Sleet Mountain. Aaron narrowly evades capture several times, desperately trying to piece together what the paperwork references while not entirely understanding the danger he is in.
Eventually, he tries to impersonate his brother to learn the truth; and he nearly gets himself killed in the process. His constant reminders to Chris of what good friends they and Mark used to all be to each other end up providing the moral conflict that becomes Chris' turning point and near-redemption, convincing Chris to betray his co-workers Kyle Tugrass and George Lawence. In the process, Aaron and his heroic acts also convince Chris to spare Monica's life; a courtesy the other two conspirators would not have shown.
Aaron decides to use the new lease he and Monica have on life to his advantage; so he discovers Mark's body and then tells the authorities everything. The original mini-series leaves open-ended what becomes of him afterward.
Aaron is friends with Chris Kennal, by virtue of Chris being Mark's best friend and coworker at Sleet Mountain. Aaron has also befriended Monica Shelly in a biology class the previous spring semester at Ferris. However, he does not initially know about Monica's relationship with Vance Lingolin, another Sleet Mountain employee. He is dating Meredith Celestine, an aspiring Christian contemporary / country singer whose songs emphasize theology over emotion. He decides to pursue the Music Industry Management major at Ferris, so that he can worm his way into a position of influence in the industry and improve Meredith's chances of success. His relationship with her has a direct impact on both his faith and on his personality.
He is first introduced at the Sleet Mountain company party held at Crooked Lake, when he is tricked into going on a boat ride with Chris and Mark to another part of the lake where drunken college girls are hosting a party of their own. Aaron chooses to say in the boat, while Mark and Chris venture ashore in search of sexual conquests. He tries to advise Mark, serving as a sort of conscience. Alas, Mark proves to be careless and disregards a lot of Aaron's warnings. While Mark dresses more like a stuffy businessman, it is Aaron who ironically has the more uptight personality.
Aaron also helps Meredith and her mother Wanda load up their moving van, as the latter two decide to leave Big Rapids permanently and move back to Nashville. He offers moral support to Meredith when her memories of being assaulted by record producer Tobey Moffin haunt and discourage her. He later gets involved in offering moral support to Monica when he becomes the only one who believes her theory that Vance was murdered by the other employees at Sleet Mountain. However, he does get involved directly in helping Monica prove the case against Clyde and the company until after he begins to have suspicions of his own that Mark may have also been murdered.
It is from that point onward that Aaron and Monica make it their personal mission to solve the mysteries surrounding their loved ones' disappearances. However, his doing so leads to a months-long game of cat-and-mouse between him and the George Lawence / Kyle Tugrass duo. His efforts culminate in a showdown in which he and Monica are both captured, about to be hauled off to an execution spot. It is in this moment that Chris is forced to decide which team he's really on. When Chris chooses to betray George and Kyle and leaves Aaron and Monica alive, they go their separate ways. Monica gives Aaron her findings, and he travels alone with the evidence to see Meredith. Meredith and Wanda then help Aaron hide from any further pursuit from Sleet Mountain or Gleeful-N'-Young. Meanwhile, they let Aaron give his evidence against Clyde to the FBI. The FBI, IRS, and EPA quickly descend on Sleet Mountain - only to discover that Clyde has vanished. Aaron considers transferring to a school not far from Nashville, so he can start his life over. He and Meredith eventually marry, and he gains a friend in the form of Ashley Phillips after Chris rescues her from a Gleeful-N'-Young brothel.
Aaron is portrayed as being a (usually) very laid-back romantic. Details of his love life are not well-known, but it is known that he has a strong bond of family loyalty to his twin brother, as well as a firm sense of friendship loyalty with Mark's Sleet Mountain co-worker Chris Kennal. However, he also has a fairly firm sense of right and wrong, and is able to relatively reliably comprehend danger when confronted with it. In the miniseries, Aaron is contrasted with Mark; a stuffy office worker with very little known personality, who is shrouded in mystery. Mark requires glasses to see, unlike Aaron. The reason for this is never explained; but it is assumed that Mark's frequent computer work at Sleet Mountain has damaged his eyesight, while the more outdoors-oriented Aaron doesn't share that problem.
When frightened, Mark prefers to remain as calm as he can and take the rational approach. Aaron, however, is far more emotional in his responses; especially his responses to threats. Aaron has also shown himself capable of far more survival skills than his brother ever demonstrated. Nevertheless, the two of them are equally willing to throw themselves into dangerous situations to expose corruption. He also appears to be good friends with scientist Monica Shelly, though their relationship is never fully explained in this version.
Aaron's miniseries personality is expanded on, showing the depths of his survival skills as well as elaborating more on his religious and moral convictions. He is also shown to have a romantic interest, albeit one who lives a distance away from him. Meredith Celestine is named after Meredith Doyle, the same former hallmate from Brophy/McNerney that the Dozerfleet founder named Ciem cameo character Merdie Dolon after. She is given a personality somewhat modeled after that of Megan Barker, with her appearance modeled on Taylor Swift. It was seen as necessary that Aaron be given some sort of romantic pursuit, especially to show how his choices in how to handle romantic leads differs from those of Mark. Some more background is also given to his friendship with Monica. He may not approve of Monica's past activities with Vance, but he is sympathetic to her cause of bringing justice to those she believes are responsible for his disappearance. When Mark also goes missing, they have a mutual quest to expose what's really happening at Sleet Mountain.
Aaron is shown to be nervous, cautious, and otherwise a friend to most living things. He is not amused by Mark's and Chris' "player" antics, especially during the beach party on Crooked Lake. However, he does his best not to appear "uppity" and self-righteous about his disapproval. He is gracious when dealing with Monica, and explaining why his path of love with Meredith is superior to her path with Vance. Due to how kind he is, as well as her own openness to learn from mistakes, she becomes very accepting of him. They only part ways as close friends when they decide that they must split up if they want to protect their families whilst continuing their quest to take down Clyde.
Like his miniseries counterpart, Aaron is reluctant to show even a tinge of malice towards any living creature. That includes the very Sleet Mountain villains he feels a need to expose to the FBI, even when said villains are in the throes of trying to kill him. Aaron's clothing style, in spite being more uptight than Mark, is much more casual. Mark has a larger playboy personality, but still prefers to dress up.
For the miniseries
Aaron was originally known in development merely as "Twin A," meaning, he was the "Alive Twin." He eventually acquired the name "Alvin Monaco" for the Mountain of Cabal working title. His twin "M" (for "missing") being named "Mike Monaco." "Mike" and "Alvin" were renamed "Mark" and "Aaron" to appease the director's vision. In the Remastered Recut of Blood Over Water, Mark and Aaron do not have listed last names. Production of the first two cuts by editor Kyle Mayer listed Aaron's surname as "Stieffel," over the Dozerfleet founder's objections. In addition to "Monaco," last names for Aaron and his brother have ranged from Sterplin to Stefflin. In the final approved-for-cable release, Aaron's last name was changed back to Stefflin and Zach's real surname was masked behind a pseudonym of Zach "Finster." For YouTube, Zach's real surname of "Foster" was listed properly in the end credits. This ending is retained for the 3D cut.
Nearly all of Aaron's mannerisms for this version were based on ideas that Zach had for how to portray the character. He nearly always described Aaron in terms of how Aaron contrasted with Mark in personality. Aaron was the "down-home, relaxed, somewhat-mistrusting-of-gays, otherwise friendly and relatable twin." Mark was described as the "stuffy-suited, aloof, and otherwise worldly twin." The novel would later take cues from these descriptions to flesh the characters out further.
For the novel
Other than the above-mentioned changes, primarily superficial details were altered to make it more obvious that Aaron and Mark chose two contrasting lifestyles. Aaron is given a love interest, and doesn't stutter as often in this version. He is also better about controlling his weight than Mark, whereas they had identical physiques in the original. He is otherwise not altered that greatly from the miniseries, though he is portrayed as using more common sense. To compensate, his adversaries are also made smarter. This forces him to still rely on luck to get out of several situations.