It makes me think that we need a fannish course in cliches, The Cliche 101. If I thought I could sum up and impart the qualities that distinguish good use of cliches from bad, I'd step up and do this. But I admit it's subjective--I mean, my first rule would be: don't use X, Y, and Z--or oh, say, childer, bondmates, and consorts--because they're nearly impossible to make palatable. And yet plenty of people do like these things.
So, okay, if someone wanted to use these ideas, the first thing I'd say is to come at it from an entirely different angle. Like, take Spike: he's a self-made rebel, and he'd mock that stuff as pompous ritual for sure. So if you wanted Spike and Xander, or Spike and Buffy, to infiltrate a gang of vampires and play master-and-consort, you should ramp up slowly. Giles should consult his books and ramble a bit iffishly about the impenetrable mysteries of vampire culture, this bit of apocrypha and that bit of lore, the diaries of Jonathan Dekker, who in 1883 lived for a year among the vampire families of Paris, smuggling out his first-hand accounts until one day, blah blah. And he consults Spike, who rolls his eyes and scathingly dismisses all those toffee-nosed ponces, while everyone listens, several of them obvious doubting Spike's ability to provide reliable information. And this whole vampire lifestyle is treated as ridiculous, and Spike should be snarking sotto voce all the way, but some elements should come as a surprise even to him, because vampire experience does differ, and he frowns and then, during some magical ritual, he gets all glassy-eyed and growly and feral and Xander--or Buffy--is backing away from him in dismay while trying to look nonchalant, while hissing and desperately trying to snap Spike out of it, but it fails and Spike bites his betrothed (except you don't want to use that word) and makes him/her drink his own bemagicked blood, and all of a sudden Xander/Buffy is feeling swoony and wild and enthralled, and they live happily ever after.
Hey, Nip/Tuck is on.
Edited to add: No, Nip/Tuck is *not* on, because it's Monday not Tuesday. Sigh. I think it's time for me to go to bed.