See the thing is, Spike only changed, became a better person, because he fell in love with Buffy. The chip had a huge effect, but it was only the start. The chip alone would not have turned him into the vampire he was in s6, it was his love for Buffy that brought him to the likeable amoral guy he was at that point in time.
Take out the buffy love and you take out all the characterdevelopment for Spike. And no, placing Xander in Buffy's place would not have the same effect. Because Xander isn't Buffy. That's not a bad thing, because Buffy isn't Xander either. But it does make a difference in how Spike responds to him.
Part of why Spike fell for Buffy is her strenght, the fact that she can kick his ass without a problem, yet still be kind underneath. (wether you agree or not, Spike saw compassion and an ability to love in Buffy)
Having him fall for Xander would make a difference.
And if you have him fall for Willow, you damn better show Spike in Tara's place and make it clear that Spike unlike Tara would not have the strenght to finally say "enough is enough" and leave for his own good. Because Spike didn't leave Buffy, so he wouldn't leave Willow either. No matter how much she'd abuse that love and would try to control him or mess with his mind every time they had the least bit of a fight.
Yes, I know, I'm biased, but there is a reason why Willow/Spike is one of the few Spike ships that I refuse to read, except in very few exceptional cases (looking at speakr2customrs here)
Willow would destroy Spike and I love Spike too much to see him go through that.
That aside though. I don't see the need to ignore a previous relationship, just to write a char in a new ship. I don't like Spike/Dru and hate Buffy/Angel, but if I write Spike/Angel, I'll give both those ships their due. Not because I like the ships in question, but because of the effect they had on the chars. Because of the depth they give the characters involved.
If I just ignore Spike/Dru and say it meant nothing compared to the new ship, then I diminish Spike. I take away his immense ability to love. She was a huge part of his life and to ignore that destroys more about Spike than it wins. No matter what the new ship you try to put him in is. Hell I personally see B/A as all about Darla, but that doesn't mean that Angel didn't love Buffy in his own limited way. She was important to him. Saying she wasn't makes Angel less real. (plus I like Buffy too much for that*g*)
Anyway, I have once again, no good way to end this rant, just had to get it off my chest.
Another thing. I keep seeing comments in various lj's about manips and fanart and it's starting to make me worried. Should I keep my fanart to darker_spike?
Am I annoying people with those teaser pics and should I put everything behind a cut on my lj or should I just forget all about the manips because they suck?
What should I do with my fanart?